We’ve all seen the twitter streams that read something like: Buy my book. Check out this review. Buy my book! Pretty please? Tell your friends.
I usually don’t bother following back folks like this because, for me, twitter is all about content. If I don’t like your content or find it to be redundant or annoying, I’ll delete your follow notification without a second thought. Same with blogs that are solely focused on promotion.
I used to think these people were desperate and/or looking to make a quick buck. But as I started getting some of my own stories published, I realized promotion is hard.
Well, yes, I know that is rather obvious. But knowing it and experiencing it are different. At least for me.
I was fortunate enough to have a couple of stories come out around the same time. And of course I wanted to share the news with the readers of this blog. Since I’ve been posting approximately once a week, these more promotion-oriented posts became more prominent, simply because there wasn’t my more standard content to balance them out.
I could have delayed the announcements, spread them out a bit more, but there’s also the publisher’s expectation that I’ll be promoting my work as well to support the publication.
What to do? On the one hand, I’m diluting my own content with promotion posts. On the other, I’m not exactly forcing you to visit the blog from your google reader or what-have-you, so there’s no reason to not post what I want to post.
Then with the Kickstarter campaign for the Memory Eater anthology (which was successful!), I not only posted an interview with the editor and a contest opportunity, but I was also tweeting just under once a day about the anthology and the crowdsourcing campaign.
When I saw how much the Memory Eater tweets were taking over my stream, I started being more diligent by including other types of content (daily writing observations, RTs and other resources) to better space out the promotion tweets. That way I was still doing what I could to support the campaign, but I wasn’t totally drowning my followers with promo either. At least that was the intention.
And all this hand wringing and promotional effort went into just a couple of short stories.
I’m beginning to understand why folks with a book (or books) that they’ve devoted so much time to creating get so darn aggressive in promoting the hell out of them.
So here are my (admittedly limited) insights into balancing promotion:
Promotion is sometimes necessary, and that’s ok. After all, why blog or tweet in the first place if you’re not promoting yourself? Give yourself permission to celebrate your victories. Publishing is hard enough without feeling guilty about promoting your achievements. The people who are interested in you and your work will be interested in learning about your successes.
But don’t forget about your primary mission in blogging and tweeting. Here, my goal is to talk about the writing life, which covers a wide range of topics. I need to remember that some people appreciate my more resource-oriented posts versus ones where I talk about my story ideas. So we’re back to balance, in all things.
When gearing up for a promotion blitz, try not to dilute your normal content/brand too much. You don’t want to be that person people start to unfollow because you got too aggressive pushing your work. Remember the line: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Consider promotion as the medicine, and your job is to have enough sugar going on, people don’t mind the medicine part so much.
Try to find ways to add value to your promotion efforts. This can feel like a transparent strategy, but it is a good way to talk about your publications without lowering your standards for quality content. Interviews with an anthology editor, the submission process for finding the right fit, the worldbuilding behind a particular story… These are all posts with more substance than just “Read my work.”