When I started promoting Ashes to Water, I had no idea the old ways were...well, old. Since July, I've been traveling from bookstore to bookstore, and my investment (in time, money and good will) has been enormous. (No, my publisher doesn't help, but that's a screed for another day.) Yes, I'm investing in the long term, building infrastructure, reconnecting with friends and family, and all that is well and good. But if you're a writer (or an artist of any kind), and want to promote your art, you have to go online. A lot. Even then, to catch a break, you'll need diligence, persistence and new relationships to lure Lady Luck to your door.
I was lucky to have found social media expert, Rebecca Schinsky of SocialMediaU, right here in Richmond. She took me by the hand and brought me up to date with social media.
Noah Scalin turned me on to Tweetdeck, and shared his mantra: "It's all about relationships." And I heard about Goodreads.com on NPR. If not for these three resources, I would be a diaper-wearing drooler by now.
There's tons of information out there on how to use Twitter to "advance your mission," and I read a lot of it. You've heard Twitter is full of self-promoters, right? True. If you don't know what you're doing, you'll feel like one person screaming in a crowded room where everyone else is screaming. It seems a senseless tool at first, an endless loop of buy me, bring me, hire me. But once you figure out the rules of the road, you uncover the method to the madness, and if you're not in there, you're going to miss something. Case in point:
Last week, I noticed a tweet come across my screen from @crimespreejon. "The next author to tweet me gets a full page book cover in the next issue of Crimespree Magazine." So I tweeted something snarky, like "What's the catch?" I got a reply. "You were first. You get a full page picture of your book cover in the next issue. Putting it in right now."
And that was that. Luck? Only insofar as I had just canceled a meeting. Had I not been at my desk, I would have missed the opportunity. But I was at my desk, putting in the time, doing what I needed to do. I made that opportunity.
Another case in point.
Rebecca put me in touch with TLC Book Tours. TLC found 13 book bloggers willing to read and review Ashes to Water and post their reviews online. One of those bloggers was Jen Forbus who also writes for (drum roll) Crimespree Magazine. So, as it happens, her review (which was positive, thank Ford) will appear in the same issue of Crimespree as my full page book cover. A coup, right? And none of it would have happened if I had not learned how to use Twitter.
This blog isn't intended as an ad for Twitter. It's intended as an ad for diligence, persistence, and...
New relationships. I heard an author talking on NPR, about the power of "real reader reviews" and that the new online place to find them was at Goodreads.com. But you can't just go on Goodreads and say, "Hey everybody, read my book!" You have to build relationships. I invested a lot of time on Goodreads. I like the sight. It's like Facebook for readers. You read a book, you rate it, you write a review if you want. Then you go in search of the people who hate the same books you do.
Which is how I found Gallycat. I wrote a review for a book which was supposed to be the summer blockbuster, and I thought it was meh. I gave it two stars. Many readers gave it four and five stars, except for Galleycat. We were like-minded in our opinions, and I friended him. Well, darned if Galleycat didn't look up my website and take an interest in Ashes to Water. Turns out, he's a city editor for a 55 newspaper chain, and his review (which comes out Sunday) will be available to all 55 newspapers, should they decide to pick it up.
Diliigence. Persistence. New relationships.
My next online world to explore? Libraries. In order to get Ashes to Water in libraries, I'm going to need to catch a break. Or perhaps I should say, I'm going to need to make an opportunity. Come January, I'm embarking on a library tour of Florida. Once again, I'll be laying the foundation, investing in the long term, building relationships. But it's going to take the power of the internet to lure Lady Luck to my door. If you'd like to help a girl out, call your public library and ask them to acquire Ashes to Water. It's a good book.
You should read it. : )
And if you enjoy it, I hope you'll share that online.