Saturday, March 28, 2015

I can't promote, I have no book yet

I hear that a lot.

"I can't do a website, I don't have a book to promote."
"I can't go talk to groups, I don't have a book to promote?"
"I can't be interviewed, I don't have a book to promote."
And on and on . . .

Actually if we wait until we have a book to promote before we start trying to build some name identification and get some visibility, we are way behind the curve. By the time we manage to get our name out there the peak selling season for our new release may be over.

Not to mention the fact that "platform" is now very important to publishers of all sizes when deciding what to acquire. It used to be that platform was only important in non-fiction books and it still is a primary factor there, but these days it is important in fiction as well. I've gotten responses on a lot of submissions that said it was a good book and well written, but the author has no platform.

Did you get that? BEFORE they even take on the book they are wanting to see an author with some sort of following or some sort of name identification.

The famed showman P.T Barnum said "I don't care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right." There have been convicted felons elected to office strictly because the name sounded familiar to people. For people browsing bookstores name familarity is one of the largest purchasing factors. Name recognition is huge.

How do we get it? Social media? Attending conferences and events? Developing topics and seeking places to speak? Family? Churches and organizations we attend? Having a website and a blog? Yes! All of the above and anything else that will get out name out there.

I think it is a waste of time trying to figure out what is good publicity and what isn't working for us. Like P.T Barnum said, the key is to get all the visibility we can get. We never know WHAT put our name on a readers mind when our book is out there and they finally see it, just that they recognized the name and picked it up. Nobody can buy a book without first being attracted by the name or the cover and picking it up.

And one of the easiest ways to get our name out there is to visit other people's blogs AND LEAVE A COMMENT, preferably something that will cause someone to take note of you. Same thing on social media. We shouldn't just follow people but should make comments on posts that interest us.

Sure, this can use up valuable writing time, but it's an advance payment on your book by getting name recognition now. When is the right time to start doing this? At least ten years ago, but if we haven't started until now . . . now will have to do.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Can we write ourselves into our fiction?

I don't think we can write credible fiction without it.

We can't write a character without getting inside their skin and imagining what they would do and say in the situation we are putting them in. That means our own experience and history, our own dealings with other people in our life come into play in fleshing them out.

Does that go for the antagonist too? Oh yes, even more so. No hero can be stronger than the villain or situation they are up against. Captain America called in the find out who is stealing someone's newspaper would be a very small story no matter how strong a hero he is.

For a writer this is rather like "going to the dark side." It doesn't mean we have done wicked things we can call upon to write about, but we can imagine them. Sometimes it can be scary how well we can imagine them.

I hear writers all the time talking about "I cried when I wrote that," or "I scared myself with that scene." I've done that. But it's a good thing. How can we expect to raise emotions in someone else that we haven't experienced ourselves? We have to be writing our own emotions into the piece.

So we are drawing on our own experiences, on our own emotions, and we are probably drawing on our own friends, family and acquaintances as well as those we come into contact with to flesh out characters and give them life. I know a number of authors who like to go the the mall or airport or some other public place just to watch people and get ideas for characters.

Putting ourselves into our characters shoes to imagine what they would say or do, the operational word is "ourselves." No matter how much we are trying to be someone else, it's still us. And when we are writing some character doing some really wicked things, you may stop as I have and say to yourself, "Wow, where did that come from?"