Monday, April 22, 2019

On the Road to Super Stardom. by Brenda Chapman

Question: If you could be really good at one part of the business side of your career, what would it be? (Being a better speaker? Being better at organizing your events? Being a promotion god?)

Nobody warns you going into this business that once published, you must teach yourself to become a marketing genius, an accomplished guest speaker, the Bill Gates of social media, an event planner the Kardashians would hire, and a rival to used car salesmen across the nation. They don't reveal that you'll need to develop a back so slippery that rejection rolls off it like ball bearings, and a skin so thick it rivals a rhino's leathery hide.

The entire road to success is pockmarked with pools of quicksand waiting to slurp the less committed into their vortexes ... or maybe it's simply the most determined and pig-headed among us who sink up to our necks, claw our way out, and keep coming back for more.

Take the speaking engagements.  Those nerve-wracking, exhilarating, stomach-clenching events that put you on centre stage in every imaginable situation. The chairs might be nearly empty, the acoustics terrible, the room hot as Hades, the set up uncomfortable. The person in charge of getting you a bottle of water might have forgotten and blamed it on cutbacks. You could be trying to speak in a busy conference room with people talking and coming and going. You might realize waiting for your turn to speak that what you've prepared will not do at all. Yet, you still have to put on a show that captures the audience's attention and keeps them from drifting out the door. (I won't  mention the lack of financial recompense for the hours spent preparing said presentations.)

Then, there's social media. How much time does an author labour to create an online presence? Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Goodreads, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn ... the cornucopia of platforms is enough to make your eye twitch ... and suck up half your writing time. The trick is to constantly create content, to be engaging and informative - to promote your books without being pushy or without revealing too much of yourself ... or at least anything you'll regret sharing later on. All of this posting takes untold time unless you're one of the marketing geniuses who makes enough money to hire an assistant, or have sired/given birth to a teenager with time on their hands (and a need to eat).

How about the media appearances? The work that goes into the pitch to get on the radio or television or get interviewed in the paper is a challenge most authors never anticipated taking on. Then the anxiety once you realize that you've actually got to appear on live tv to talk intelligently about a book you wrote three years ago.

And then the bookstore signings. This is where the rubber really hits the road. Being a salesperson on the front lines. Who among us envisioned standing for three hours in a store trying to capture the attention of shoppers who've never heard of you? Handing out bookmarks as people look the other way. Trying to say the right thing to interest the disinterested. Smiling when asked where the washrooms are? 

And this brings me back to this week's question: what part of all this unexpected career would I like to improve upon? 

I'd be lying if I didn't say I could continue to develop my skills in every single area ... I mean, who can honestly say they've mastered the art of the sale ... except for maybe The Donald. But then again, I feel as if I've been through a lot of the fires and come out the other side already, stronger for the experiences ... and still excited to be writing (without the need to hide my tax returns) and oddly eager to keep getting out there with my wares.

I can also attest to the wonderful time I've had meeting new as well as devoted readers and wonderful bookstore owners and staff, getting to know other authors in the same boat, travelling to new cities, working with editors and publishers, seeing my words in print, on bookshelves, in bookstores ... The hard truth is that I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing. 

So, yes, there's always room for improvement both on the writing and the marketing fronts, but when all is said and done, this writing gig is one helluva ride and I wouldn't give back one minute of it, even if the odd time the seats were empty and the kid running the bookstore signing forgot I was coming.

Coming in May! Books 6 in the Stonechild & Rouleau police procedural series - Find out more here.

Twitter: brendaAchapman
Facebook: BrendaChapmanAuthor


Dietrich Kalteis said...

That's a great post, Brenda. I like your attitude.

7 Criminal Minds said...

Thanks Dietrich :-)