Sunday, July 03, 2011


Cross posted from my blog:

I went to three panels at CONvergence. One was on marketing for writers. I have real doubts about how much effective marketing most writers can do. The panelists talked about making bookmarks and postcards, going to cons, having a blog, being on facebook, taking out ads in trade magazines. These are fairly typical ways to try and increase visibility.

I am acutely uncomfortable about self-promotion. It doesn't fit my Minnesota idea of the right way to behave. Don't push in front of your neighbors. Don't blow your horn.

It was explained to me at Wiscon that self-promotion and marketing are different. Marketing is finding your target market and ways to reach that market. When I heard this, I thought, "Wiscon is my target market: feminist readers of science fiction and fantasy."

I'm not sure what else I can do, besides going to Wiscon every year. Go to a few other cons. Make friends. Be a decent human being. Believe in people and art and good politics and life.

Back in the 1970s, I set out to become a good panelist, in spite of introversion and stage fright. I think I've done a pretty good job. I did it, because I wanted to become more visible in the field, and I wasn't sure my writing would ever become known. And because there were things I wanted to say about people and art and politics and life.

Anyway, I found the panel a bit depressing. It sounded like the same ideas for self-promotion I've heard before, and which do not seem to work especially well to me.

However, publishing is changing rapidly, as we all know; and writers are trying to figure out all the possible ways to use the Internet and e-publishing. Borders is in chapter 11. Barnes & Noble is trying to sell itself. I'm not sure of the future of the brick and mortar chains. Nor am I sure of the future of the big, New York, print-on-paper publishers.

Because the situation is fluid, it seems like a good idea to pay attention.

So I will.


Tyler Tork said...

Eleanor, I think you can ratchet it up a notch or three without anyone thinking you're blowing your own horn too hard. There are lots more people in your stated target market than go to Wiscon, and it would be nice to have ways to reach them.

Besides, I've been reading the Lydia Duluth stories and the Big Mama stories as they come out, & they didn't strike me as limited in their audience appeal to what one might describe as committed feminists (as opposed to those merely cheering from the sidelines). You have strong female characters - that's not a handicap in this genre.

I don't know how much good the bookmarks and postcards and the like do; I wonder whether you could think of some other things that you would be more comfortable with, that would also be effective marketing. Try to get on some radio shows or popular podcasts, maybe. Do some youtube videos on subjects that interest you. Put anything out there that's useful and/or entertaining, that links back to where people can buy your stuff.

You give good value in your writing, if that's not too crass a way to put it. I'd like to see you reach a wider audience, esp. with your backlist (because there's more of it).

tate hallaway said...

I disagree. I think that if Eleanor wants more exposure she should consider hiring a publicist, but spend *her* time writing. :-)

But in all seriousness, I've long considered starting a podcast for Wyrdsmiths. The biggest drawback is the time and energy all this stuff takes.