Thursday, May 25, 2023

TikTok ate my Street Team

Do you set aside dedicated time to do promotion for your book and your brand? If so, how much time and what do you concentrate on? If not, why not?

Not really, if that means "Thursday afternoons" or "the last morning of every month". But yes indeed if it means "put things that need to be done on the to-do list and do them in time".

best pic I've taken of Rachel

At least, for my book(s), that is. I solicit blurbs and accept invitations to give them, I go on blog tours, I appear at conventions and attend them, I arrange readings and sit agog at other people's readings, I offer bookclub visits, I keep my website up-to-date (pause while I go and check that my website is up-to-date . . . it was and you don't need to take my word for it - see), I've got an Author page on Facebook and a Twitter account where I share news about new books, trade reviews, award nominations and events, and if possible I hold launch parties for each new book.

current books

Sounds like I'm all over it, eh?

But I just Googled "How to promote your book" and found:
  • Television news
  • Book Trailer
  • Instagram
  • Tik-Tok
  • Street team 
And my answer is
  • Yeah, right
  • Umm
  • Nah
  • Hahahahahaha
  • Ewww
Mind you, these five points were top of a list called "nineteen ways to promote your book" which I would file under "twenty-five reasons there shouldn't be more than ten things on a list".

quite a lot of lemons

When it comes to one's brand, I get wriggly and start to fray. (For instance, I don't use the pronoun "one" but I couldn't type "my brand" for squirming.) What *is* a brand, when it comes to an author? 

Is it the shared characteristics of all her books? So my brand would be: crime fiction, Scotland, missing children, laughs (sometimes inappropriate)?

Or is a brand made up of all the other stuff an author puts out into the world - in real life or on social media - which would make mine . . . books (I read a lot and tell people what I'm reading), cats (God, she's annoying but how I do love her), inept gardening, cooking with confidence and varying success, escapist telly and the love of a good line of washing?

those were the days

Both? Anything else?

It used to be the case that publicists and gurus would say authors shouldn't talk about politics in case we reduced our audience by alienating people - or "tarnished our brand". I went along with it for a while, but not these days, when "political" has come to mean anything that makes someone feel ashamed of being horrid and when real harm is being done to people who don't deserve it. Silence isn't always apolitical, in my opinion, and I'm on the side of the angels.

So, my brand is probably this: a woke cat and cake fan who loves books and laughs a lot. (She sounds okay.)

At Left Coast Crime with Diana Chambers

Now then: do I set aside time to promote that? What a weird idea! It's inevitable that I'll keep quiet when the subject round a table, on a panel, or in a thread is . . . golf. And it's highly unlikely that I'd sit out a discussion of ironing, transphobia, or whether you have to skin broad beans (to take just three recent examples).

So I think, in conclusion, that if we as authors really are who we make out we are, we are our brands, and we promote them by existing in all our intersecting communities. Or maybe I'm so absolutely uninformed about promo and publicity that I just made myself sound like an iguana trying to yodel.

Wait! I do set aside time to promote one bit of branding: reader. I tell everyone on Twitter and facebook what I'm reading every #FridayReads and I've got an item on the home page of my website that shares what I'm reading Saturday to Thursday, with links to a list in date order. (here) Today, it's Kwei Quartey's third PI Emma Djan novel, LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ. It's fantastic. His prose is so clean and he's a dab hand with plot. I know it's going to get dark towards the end, but I read Gabino Iglesias' THE DEVIL TAKES YOU HOME, so I'm bullet proof now.




Lyda McPherson said...

I was researching "niche" and "knowing your target market" (for reason not writerly related.)
I came across a statement which I have amended slightly.

People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, shared histories, dreams and entertainment."

I think you've managed that nicely.

Susan C Shea said...

Agree that brand is who we are, and the more honest it is the stronger the brand, even if it means a potential reader says, "ew, she's so woke!" I think I trust those authors I know, even if I've only met them in passing, to give me a good read. Witness, Kwei, with whom I shared a panel years ago. I love his new series even more than the previous one, and I feel in my bones its authenticity. Need I say I love your brand?

Catriona McPherson said...

Susan, I was on a panel with Kwei a couple of weeks back and bought his book because he seemed lovely. Case in point.

Ann said...

As a reader, I am open to trying new authors, often on the recommendation of someone who’s taste I know I share. That works about 80% of the time. And there are few things that delight me as much as a friend agreeing with me about a book we both love.