All to establish a brand, build a platform & get an agent to look at you
When I started writing my book, Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows, in summer 2014, I never guessed that I would need to engage in so much self-promotion just to get a literary agent and a publisher to take a look at my manuscript. Had I known then what I know now, I might have chosen to spend my time at the beach instead.
First, the brand
…the graphics, photos, fonts and colors that comprise my logo and unify the look of my website and social media home pages. No more changing profile pictures at whim.
Next, the website and blog
…GoDaddy and WordPress accounts; multiple domain names—ellaprichard and ellawallprichard.com, .org and .net. Then the commitment to churn out several hundred words a day with accompanying photographs. Mastering the technical aspects has been far more challenging than the actual writing. Hardest of all is finding an audience (in the eyes of agents and publishers, a head count of potential book buyers). When I wrote for the Baylor Lariat and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, I knew what the circulation was. I knew I had readers. Now I send stuff out into cyberspace and have no clue how many people read it. I wonder how many billions or even trillions of bits of text are launched each day.
Which leads to social media
…Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest at the moment, possibly google+ and GoodReads sometime in the future. Instead of casually scrolling through Facebook when I have coffee in the mornings, I now go to my laptop to re-post my blog. (I know—I need to figure out Buffer or Hootsuite to automate this step.) Again, who is actually reading anything? Sometimes Facebook gives me a count of everyone who was “reached,” but I have no idea how many from all four social media accounts actually click the link to the blog.
And that’s what matters
…the count. That’s what agents and publishers care about. How many “likes” does my public Facebook page have? How many people follow or re-tweet me on Twitter? How many LinkedIn connections check my occasional updates there? How many on Pinterest check my board or re-pin my post? It is sloooooow.
So far I have resisted paid advertising and promotion, and I have tried to control—not always successfully—social media’s blanket “invitations” to my contact list and my personal FB friends. I haven’t worked Twitter hard enough to connect strongly with communities of widows and writers, but I have made a small dent there. Though its aggressiveness embarrasses me, LinkedIn has been a nice surprise. I could do more there.
Pinterest seems impossible, but other writers report that they have terrific luck there. I have changed the names of my boards to match the categories of my blogs. That way, if you are only interested in my travel blogs, or thoughts on writers and writing, or on living alone, Pinterest will be a good option, though right now a couple of boards are empty.
What I really need
…if you are on Facebook, please “like” my public page and click the link to the blog every day when it pops up. You don’t have to read it. Just click on it. If you don’t do social media, go to my website, enter your email address and click to subscribe. Your email is completely private, but you will get an automated email every morning with a link to the new blog.
Photo: My desk at the White Elephant–nice to face a window looking out on the water instead of at a wall.
Have you used social media effectively to sell yourself, your cause or a product?
What about blogging?
Any advice for a novice?