Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Your Name Out There

As I've mentioned a few times, gentle readers, an author's name is a brand, a social currency, a form of capital: it can signal cultural awareness ("Have you read the new book by so-and-so?"), serves as synecdoche for a book's actual content ("Have you read the new Suzanne Collins? Well, she wrote it, it must be good,"), and even acts as a seal of approval (e.g. reviews and blurbs).

So how do you get yours out there?

Well, the most obvious answer is to write a fantastic book that people love. Until then, however, there are a few things you can do to get your name and your writing on readers' radars.

Attend events. There's no substitute for face time, mes auteurs. Attending readings, book signings, panel discussions, conferences, conventions, and other literary events in your genre of interest will not only help you fill out your mental Who's Who, but will help raise your profile among other readers and writers interested in the sorts of books you are.

Write reviews. Just behind talking about themselves, people love reading about themselves. Write reviews of books you love by authors you admire, link to them, and spread a little good karma. The worst that'll happen is your name will be in print or on-line in one more place than it was previously; the best that'll happen is that the author will repost, retweet, link to, or otherwise call out your stellar review, and that can help raise awareness of your name significantly.

Participate in social media. You won't have the time or money to attend every in-person event you'd like, but that doesn't mean you're in any way cut off from the writing community of your choice. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to communicate with people you might never otherwise meet, and maintaining a web presence (website and/or blog) provides you a sort of digital storefront for you and your work. Networking has never been easier than with the biggest network (of networks) on the planet: the Internet.

Publish your short fiction. If you write short stories, submit 'em for publication. A nice array of publication credits in print and/or on-line will not only help build awareness of your brand, but may attract attention from agents and editors. Should you decide to go it alone and self-publish your work electronically, you can sell your short stories on the cheap to attract consumers for your novel. Again: worst case scenario, your name comes up more often in print, in conversation, and/or on-line.

Ideas? Theories? Tried-and-true methods? To the comments with you!

21 comments:

  1. I've got strong reservations about posting reviews. To me, it seems to open up too many cans of worms. If I give author A a positive review, will authors B, C & D think I didn't like their books when I don't review them? And if someone disagrees with my review, will they carry that over and decide they won't read my book.

    I mention all the books I'm reading at the top of my blog posts, but I avoid stating opinions. Guess I'm a coward.

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

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  2. I can't agree more about Attending Events. Even if you're shy! You'll learn just by seeing what everyone else is doing and the panels you attend. If you're not shy, it's an awesome opportunity to do networking, which is super important. Also, you can see the type of promo materials the other authors are using and how they do. You'll also find awesome authors and new reads. (My TBR is insane!)

    As to book reviews, I don't have the time. But I do list them on Goodreads/Librarything and do a rating. I also click the tags on Amazon to ease searches. Plus using #fridayreads on Twitter is a great way to let people know what you're reading, push authors you enjoy, and you can put an Amazon url so they can go check them out!

    The writing community on the web and at cons is amazing!

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  3. Sound advice. (=

    And might I add-- disabling the security word on blogs... (;

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  4. I do have a question: I've researched this for awhile, but I don't know exactly where or how to get short stories published. I'd love to have some publishing credit, but I don't know where to go to get it. It just seems like there's a lack of information about publishing short stories.
    Somewhat off topic... I'm sorry!
    But thank you so much for the advice. Getting your name out there is majorly important, thanks for the tips. :)

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  5. The name game - I agree w/most. One reviewer told me to send my book, but if she felt it wasn't of her interest and could not give it at least a 3 stars then she would not review it. I appreciated her honesty. I do the same after reading such hog washy reviews. Going to places to be seen and seen others - used to go, but it's more as stated, been seen and see others. For me that become of no interest as much as spending my energy and money on creating book events for my own work. That paid off more. Social networking - I've bought a few authors books and were sent some to review -again, most authors are more interested in finding people to review there books rather than sharing. This is my humble experience as an Indie writer/seller & feeling good about my progress. So mote it be.

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  6. @Bethany Elizabeth: Check out Duotrope's Digest or a similar market-listing website. There are literally tons of magazines out there accepting unsolicited short fiction submissions in every genre. Start with the pro-paying markets, then debase yourself for "any money whatsoever" - just like me!

    @Terry Odell: I only post positive reviews. I run a semi-regular feature on my blog called the "Thursday Thieves' Guild," where I talk about what elements I would rip off from my favourite authors. Obviously, this "book thievery" is in good fun (I have enough of my own ideas); but it lets me avoid writing bad reviews, which, as an author, just doesn't make good business sense.

    -bn

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  7. I love posting reviews on my blog, although it's been a while since I've done one, and like Ben and others have stated, I generally post positive reviews. I'll still criticize and discuss any weaknesses, but if the overall tone isn't good, it seems like it would hurt my image more than the author to post such a thing on my public blog.

    @Terry: Why worry about authors B, C, and D? There are too many books out there for any one person to read, and if authors B, C, and D take it personally that you reviewed author A and not them, that's their problem. The books I review are exceptional in some sense out of all the books I read: something about them really struck me AND I had the time to review them.

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  8. Wonderful advice, thank you! I'm new to the blogosphere and still learning the ropes of networking, this post came at an excellent time for me.

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  9. I agree that there is no substitute for face time. I've attended conferences and met people who've become life long writing friends. As well, it's a great place to meet editors and agents and keep up on what's going on in the publishing industry.

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  10. I've struggled finding local events, especially ones that involve publishers and/or agencies. Any suggestions?

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  11. Excellent advice! Just what I need to get motivated to polish up the almost-finished short stories I've been working on and start sending them out.

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  12. Attending events can make you familiar face to bookstore owners before you have a book. Volunteering at the events is also a quick way to become an insider.

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  13. Thank you! This is great and exactly what I need right now, with a novel coming out in July. I'm attending more events and getting to know the bookstore owners in my area. I, too, am rather shy, but I'm looking forward to an opportunity to get beyond my fears and do publicity anyway. (after all what are they going to do, throw tomatoes at me?) I also write several blogs that get different eyeballs.

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  14. Okay, for those of us with limited funds and in a city known for a former president (and not much else ...) I've never seen a writer's anything here. Book signings are also few and far between. Any other suggestions?

    Oh and any reliable suggestions on publishing short stories?

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  17. Very useful tips. Thanks Eric. I've never considered book reviewing. That's an awesome idea and thanks to Ben Godby for the suggestion of having a segment in the week dedicated to book reviews. Gives me an idea :)

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