Over at the Erotica Readers And Writers site my piece, Thinking Outside Your Box, just went up - and on the brilliant WriteSex site my brand new essay, Meet Me Halfway, also was just posted. Here are teases of both:
Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.
I'm not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.
A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick ... but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won't do it.
Not that having some form of presence online isn't essential – far from it: if people can't find you, after all, then they can't buy your books. But there's a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.
Balance is the key: don't just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that ... even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something ... interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics ... you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.
Let’s open with a joke: a guy pleads with god over and over: “Please, Lord, let me win the lottery.” Finally, god answers: “Meet me halfway – buy a ticket!”
Back when publishers only put out – gasp – actually printed-on-paper books I was known as a writer who would give anything I did that extra mile: readings, interviews, PR events, press releases … you name it, I’d do it. To be honest, I’ve always had a small advantage in that my (unfinished) degree was in advertising and I’ve less-than-secretly really enjoyed creating all kinds of PR stuff. I’ve always felt that a good ad, or marketing plan, can be just as fun and creative as actually writing the book itself.
Sure, some of my PR stuff has gotten me (ahem) in some trouble … though I still contest that the “other” M.Christian who staged that rather infamous plagiarism claim over the novel Me2 was at fault and not me, the one-and-only; or that my claim to amputate a finger as a stunt for Finger’s Breadth was totally taken out of context…
Anyway, the fact is I’ve always looked at publishers as people to work with when it comes to trying to get the word out about my books. Sure, some publishers have been more responsive and accepting than others and, yes, I still have bruises from working with a few who couldn’t have cared less about me and my books, but in the end most of them have been extremely happy to see my excitement when one of their editions hit the shelves.
Duh, things have changed a lot since then – but in many ways things haven’t changed at all. Books are still books, even if they are now digital files and not dead trees, and bookstores are still in the business of selling those books, even if they’re now Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo instead of brick-and-mortar establishments … and publishers still want to work with authors who want to work with them.
Not going into the whole publisher-versus-self-publishing thing (in a word: don’t) one thing that has totally changed is the importance of marketing, social media, and public relations. Simply put, it’s gone from being somewhat necessary to absolutely essential.