Monday, October 18

Posted by Laurel Garver on Monday, October 18, 2010 11 comments
More highlights from the Push to Publish conference I attended last Saturday.

"A writer works on a novel for years. She wakes up with it, she goes to bed with it. She loves it like a person, tenderly, even if that person is recalcitrant, a bit of a sh**head, with ideas of his own of where he'd like to go..." (read more HERE). This was part of the reading from literary fiction author Paul Lisicky, from his introduction to his late friend Denise Gess's novel.

He then read an excerpt from his current work in progress, a memoir. I especially appreciated his insights about the importance of literary friendships and how they feed and grow us.

Marketing your work on a budget
With author Kelly Simmons, author and consultant Don Lafferty, author Christine Cavalier and freelance writer Kelly Whalen.

This panel discussion included information many of us bloggers already know--that building your platform as a writer and making connections can be done cheaply with a blog.

Several of the panelists were exceedingly gung-ho for the Live Journal platform. I've noticed that those of us on Blogger and the Live Journal crowd don't connect at all and mentioned this to the panelists. They just shrugged, which made me wonder if there's something deeper than a techie issue here. What gives?

Social networks
A few pointers they mentioned are to get involved in the Twitter-verse carefully and see it as a tool for listening and relationship building and building "good karma" by tooting others' horns.

Facebook is the number two source of social interaction online after e-mail, and a powerful tool for marketing if used appropriately. Set up a separate author page with minimal personal info on it to protect your family, and recheck the privacy settings often to keep up that wall between your private and public life. Don't create a fan page for your work before you are published; it looks presumptuous and very amateur. Instead, join communities that have an affinity with your work (same genre, topics you tackle, similar aesthetic), build relationships there, LISTEN and engage in conversations.

Your goal in social networking is to seek target connection and engage. The panelists mentioned using a Google alerts and software like Tweetdeck to trawl the Internet for you and find places where you can join conversations tied to your work and your passions.

The panelists also recommended being active on a book review community site such as Goodreads, Library Thing or Shelfari. These sites will help you know your audience well and will become a place to find eager readers when your book comes out.

Creative marketing
Take care when trying to "think outside the box" with marketing. Going to bookstores and stuffing your bookmarks into books by other authors in your genre is NOT going to win you points with the bookstore staff. They'll pull them and toss them. Instead, ask to place bookmarks at the register, let them know you're available to do readings or workshops. Be professional, not obnoxious.

However, you can and should be creative in thinking about what places your potential readers might be and put yourself there. If you write fiction about a knitting club, for example, consider getting a table at fiber arts shows and selling your book there. Write MG about a kid with autism? Get a table for your book at conferences for special education teachers and for parents of special needs kids. Try to connect with those interested in your subject matter where they would naturally go. Your presence and your book will be a boon to them.

This session was an information-packed treasure trove for sure!

Tell me your thoughts about using online tools--the good, the bad, the ugly. Any favorite tips you'd like to share?

Why aren't we in the Blogger universe connecting with the Live Journal folks? How could that change?


  1. I double post to both blogger and LJ. The nice thing about LJ is that they have comments that feed to each other. You don't have to constantly check back to your blog to see if someone commented or to a blog you commented on to see if someone referred to you or if the blog owner commented back. It's threaded at LJ,

    The nice thing about Blogger is it's easier to build followers, find friends. It's also easier to build a personal site design. It that way, I find it more user friendly.

  2. It's really hard to follow authors on LJ because I can't comment or participate. But they can with each other. I'll still read their posts. To each her own.

  3. Laurel, confession time: I had not really heard of Live Journal before now. Rather, I've heard of it but really had no idea what it was. It wasn't on the radar. Interesting. I use FB and Twitter and Blogging and feel I have a fairly good balance with it all. The challenge is setting aside enough time to write my paid pieces. Lately I've had to drop back from social networking in order to meet deadlines. I think the online presence is something we will be evaluating on a regular basis for a long time to come.

  4. I have a few fellow bloggers who use LiveJournal, but I could always use a few more. Thanks for the reminder to look outside of just blogger users. :)

  5. I have both a LJ and a Blogger account -- and, in my opinion, the nature of the two communities are completely different. Most LJ-ers follow their friendslist and read from their friend pages -- which means it'd be difficult for them to follow Bloggers. And those on Blogger tend to follow people through Google's Follower feature, which can be read in an RSS feed or in the Dashboard. Both are just isolated from each other, and it's difficult to cultivate relationships when you can't easily follow one or the other.

    That said, I do have to say I much prefer LJ's threaded comments system (although I do value Google Reader very much). You're notified when the original author/poster replies to your comment on their post. It's easier to foster a close relationship on LJ because a conversation is a lot more two-sided.

  6. I tried LJ but didn't like it. I still haven't figured out how to set anything up on it. So I gave up.

  7. Elle: I hope sometime you'll blog about the particulars of having mirror blogs. I'm thinking I might do the same at some point, but would love to hear how you did it and how you maintain both.

    Laura: That's my experience, too. One of the YA authors in my writing group is invested in that community--I read her posts but don't comment because it's a huge hassle unless you also blog on that platform.

    Roxane: Balance is tricky, isn't it? I keep thinking I need to better schedule my social networking. I'm not yet on Twitter because I fear it will become too much of a fun distraction that keeps me from actually writing.

  8. Bethany: Is it as difficult for LJ users to follow us as it is for us to interface with them? Just wondering.

    Emy: LJ does seem like a more closed universe, which kind of bugs me. I do like all the cool gadgets and widgets the Blogger platform integrates well. And for me, there's comfort factor. I started blogging (a personal blog) back in 2001, so I've been using Blogger almost 10 years now. I am interested in the conversational threads, though. That does seem like it would save time. Maybe I'll copy Elle and create a mirror site.

    Stina: There aren't as many designers creating LJ templates, and I get the sense you can't as easily customize designs. THAT would bug me a lot, because even my site's specialy custom design is one I noodled with and changed quite a bit.

  9. All things in moderation. When I read about more social networking and more things we should be doing I get MORE anxious about it. Then, I take a sip of my coffe and get perspective. We have many options, but that doesn't mean we have to dive in and fully emerse ourselves in all of them. Keep on writing and connecting in whatever mode works. That's all. Keep on sharing the good stuff, Laurel!

  10. At times, it can be tough balancing the social network thing and actually getting stuff done. Gave up Twitter - had too many unwanted followers (unseemly websites) and never took the time to figure out how to avoid that. Perhaps someday I'll go back. Good post, thanks.
    Have a good weekend,

  11. Excellent post once again. I've had to start thinking about how I can continue doing my part. Building this platform, creating a brand and building relationships. Who knew getting published was a full time, non-paying job!

    Oh, I guess someone did mention that to me...once upon a time. LOL