Tag Archives: publicity

Working the Convention Circuit

This is one of those “you should” blogs that, if you know me, you know I generally hate. But I’m going to do it anyway because I’m willing to take the heat for being a hypocrite for a topic I believe is worth the sacrifice. So here goes, and it’s a bit of a daisy chain, so bear with me.

If you’re a new writer, with at least a handful of published short stories to your name or even a novel or two, then you should give serious consideration to working the convention circuit.

Back in July of 2009, I got laid off from an IT gig and decided to chase a writing career. The first thing I did was write some short stories and submit them. I also wrote a novel—the less-than-well-known Chemical Burn. Over the past four years, these efforts have borne fruit. However, if they were all I accomplished in that time, the odds are I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now for the simple reason that the folks at The Fictorians wouldn’t know who I am.

Let me explain.

In October of 2009, I attended MileHiCon, a local and well-established genre and writing convention with a strong author-track. As a result of my participation, a number of wheels were set in motion. MileHiCon is where I met Kronda Seibert and the “heart” of the local steampunk population. As a result of that meeting, I was able to write three episodes of a steampunk Internet radio show and laid the foundation for the Penny Dread Tales anthology series. I wouldn’t be writing steampunk if it weren’t for that convention.

At MileHiCon I also met Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency (which had benefits later) as well as David Boop who has introduced me to much of the Front Range writing community in one way or another. This also led to my involvement with the Broadway Book Mall.

At a convention in 2010 I met Peter J. Wacks, which opened the door to a contract for Steampelstiltskin with Fairy Punk Studios and laid the groundwork for a relationship with an international best-selling author (more on that later). I also started picking up a fan-base and found a home with the steampunk community. As a result of that, I established a recurring attendance invite with AnomalyCon and locked in “premiering” each new Penny Dread Tales (PDT) anthology at the convention. PDT has now become a staple at the con, with a growing list of “bigger-name” contributors as a result of its growing exposure. It was in this cycle of cons that I also met Guy De Marco for the first time, and that relationship opened up even more doors.

2011 was more of the same, and in 2012, I extended my reach a little and—thanks to Guy—hit OsFest in Omaha Nebraska. That’s where I met Travis Heermann. It was also in the 2012 con season that I met Angie Hodapp (also of the Nelson Literary Agency), and that opened doors to making a proposal to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Board of Directors as well as teaching a seminar on writing action scenes (with Travis Heermann) at the Colorado Gold Conference this year.

2013 saw my reach deepen into the writing community. I’ve met writers, agents and publishers. I’ve got a growing list of contacts, fans, and even editors asking for my work. My relationship with Angie Hodapp and Sara Megibow over at the Nelson Agency opened the door for me to submit a query directly to Sara, and while she didn’t accept that manuscript, the door is open for me to submit directly to her when I finish my next manuscript.

On top of it all, at CoSine in Colorado Springs this year, I met for the first time Kevin J. Anderson. You may know that name. As a result, I now do book designs and eBook conversions for Word Fire Press, and as a result of that chain of events, I’ve been able to work on books by authors like Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson and, coming soon, Alan Drury. I even did a WordFire Press version of the eBook for Clockwork Angels. My work with Anderson also got me into Superstars, which led to me being invited to become a Fictorian.

The daisy chain goes on and on, so what’s the message here?

That if you’re planning a career in the writing biz, you should start meeting, greeting, and carousing with people in the writing biz. That’s how you make contacts. It’s how you open doors. That’s how you create opportunities for your writing projects.

Most people think the writing business is all about getting “picked up”… about writing a manuscript in solitude, submitting a query, and finding out six months later that you’ve been offered a contract by an agent or even one of the “Big 5.” I won’t deny that this method works… but you’d have as much a chance trying to get struck by lightning in a thunderstorm.

The odds are against you, so how do you up the odds?

You hit the convention circuit, plain and simple.

 

Q

Mignon Fogarty: Social Media Mistakes That Make You Look Like a Newbie

 

A guest post by Mignon Fogarty

Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can be great tools for marketing your book, but you can also look like a tool if you make these common mistakes:

Don’t Jump in Without Exploring

Don’t join a network and immediately start posting. Take a couple of weeks to poke around, watch the experts, and see how things work. Every network has its own quirks.

In general, your goal should be to make friends genuinely. Answer people’s questions. Respond to their posts. Build relationships so people begin to recognize your name. If the first post I see from you is promoting your book, all I will remember when I see your name again is that you only care about promoting yourself.

Don’t Send Direct Messages to People You Don’t Know

Unless you have an exceptionally good reason, don’t send a direct message to someone you don’t know. You don’t need to thank people for following you, you shouldn’t send them an “introduction” link to your site, and for God’s sake, don’t ask them to check out your book or like your fan page.

What does it mean to know someone on social media? If I see your message and feel happy to hear from you, we know each other. If I see your message and wonder who you are, we don’t know each other.

Don’t Promote Your Book Without Giving People a Reason to Care

If you’re asking people on social media to take action (e.g., review your book, like your fan page), give them a reason. There are at least two reasons people will care:

1) Make it worth their while. Have a contest or give away a prize. A prize can have cash value (e.g., an e-reader), be something only you can provide (e.g., a personal thank-you video, a 30-minute critique, naming rights to a character in your book), or simply the glory of winning a contest of skill (e.g., a limerick contest).

2) Let them share your journey. Kickstarter works because contributors feel like they are helping you-joining you-on your journey. You can apply the same techniques to social media promotion.

To bolster people’s participatory feelings, you need to explain your purpose. In the book, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, the authors explain that if you follow a request with a “because clause”-a reason you are making the request-people are more likely to comply. If you want people to review your book because good reviews increase online purchases, tell them that’s why you want the reviews. If you want people to buy your book this week because it will help you make the bestseller list, tell them that’s why it’s important this week.

It’s also helpful to give updates. Once you’ve made people aware of your goal, tell them how it’s going. Don’t go crazy and update Twitter every ten minutes, but when you’ve reached a significant milestone, announce it.

In the end, it’s simple: nobody likes the new guy who shows up at a party and immediately starts hustling everyone to buy his product; but if an old friend has an exciting new project he’s eager to tell you about, you’re happy to listen and help. Social media is the same. Become the old friend.

Guest Writer Bio:
Mignon Fogarty is the author of the forthcoming book 101 Troublesome WordsYou’ll Masterin No Time. Preorder the book now so bookstores see there is a healthy demand, and stock it when it launches in July.