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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Buzz

See, there's a bee. Get it? I'm lame.

This post popped up on my news feed today, and reiterated a lot of the things I've been reading and telling myself lately about advertising. Because that's an unfortunate reality of the writing game in this market: you can't wait around for people to do it for you. You have to promote yourself. This is hard for me, in particular, because I never want to feel like I'm imposing on anyone. It's also hard because advertising isn't inherently successful. A lot of advertising feels like shouting into the ether: "Heyy!! I wrote this book! You might like it! Check it oooout!!" We all know this isn't effective, but most do it anyway, because it's hard to connect all the dots and, like the post described, get your message to the right consumers, not just all consumers in general.

That said, the best form of book advertising is still word of mouth. A personal recommendation from a friend is always more reliable than one of those revolving sidebar ads on Goodreads. People trust friends' taste, and people love being able to chat with each other about a shared experience. The more a book is shared, the more successful it is, the better able the author is to keep producing quality work that readers want to share. It's all a big cycle. So for this Workshop Wednesday post, I'm turning the tables a little bit. Today, I'm talking about a way readers can support the authors they like. Initiating buzz.

Books take hours and hours to write. That's countless cups of coffee, cans of soda, bottles of eye drops, and butts gone to sleep in hard chairs. It's a private, personal anxiety; writers strive to get every detail just right, and then have to spend even more hours hacking the finished product to pieces before it's ready to sell. It's a process, often a silent one, and more than anything else, writers want to feel like all their hard work is speaking to someone.

The question posed to me was, "People need to read you. This is so good. How can we get the word out about you?"

If you've ever wondered that yourself, here's a few ways you can:

- Tell a friend. Tell lots of friends. Let them borrow a book, tell them where to find the author's work, etc. If you like a book, talk about it. People will listen.

- Leave a review. On Goodreads, on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble. Leaving an honest review can help other online shoppers make a decision about purchasing or sampling the book. It's also a great way to tell the author you enjoyed the book and still stay anonymous if you want to.

- Reach out. Authors love to hear from readers, and most authors can be found either through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or even personal email.

- Ask local bookstores if they carry your favorite authors, and see if there's a chance of having the books shipped to the store. I know most independent booksellers and Barnes & Noble can order my books and hold them at the counter for readers.

I love discovering new writers. I just read The Photograph by Virginia Ellis per a recommendation, and I really enjoyed it and am already sharing it. Books are, in so many ways, organic. They can bring people together, create dialogue, inspire other authors. And no author can leave an impression with his or her art without the love of readers.

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