It’s All About Marketing

Last month, I was one of the exhibitors at the Sacramento Wizard World Comic-Con. I had a table in “Artist Alley,” as I did last year. I do a few different such conventions each year, but this one is the largest of those.

As expected, I had great fun. I always enjoy meeting new people. And, obviously, I love it when people buy my books. But perhaps most of all, I love seeing the cosplayers and their often amazing costumes.

Nice kitty…?

The downside of being an exhibitor is not having the ability to attend the special events going on or getting to meet any of the celebrity guests.

Someday, my dear…

Then again, being always out on the floor has certain advantages. Like being randomly interviewed by SidewalksTV! Dyna and I were lucky enough to score about four minutes of facetime!

Click the pic to hear Dyna say mean things about me.

As you might expect, Dyna gets a lot more attention at these events than I do. And I’m really okay with that, socially awkward guy that I am.

I have a love/hate relationship with interviews. On the one hand, I enjoy being able to talk about my work, but on the other hand, I’d much prefer these interviews be in print, not on camera.

But I realize that interviews – and live appearances – are necessary. It’s all about marketing, as are this blog, my newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s not enough to produce a quality product, whether that product is a book, an automobile, or a salad dressing. People need to know about the products, too.

They say word of mouth is a great marketing tool, so if you’ve enjoyed my work, please tell anyone you think might also enjoy it. This socially awkward writer would appreciate it.

Posted by vmwales in Marketing/Promotion

I Hate Marketing

In the world of independent publishing, there’s a huge focus on marketing and all the tips and tricks to getting the word out about your work. I’m not particularly adept at it and fully admit to hating pretty much anything having to do with marketing. And yes, I realize this is something I need to change, if I ever hope to be financially successful. But one thing I’ve come to realize as a result of reading about marketing techniques is this: virtually none of them would work on me as a buyer of books.

I see recommendation from some “experts” to get reviews, even if you have to pay for them. And while I’m sure there are some paid reviewers out there who really do give honest opinions, I find the whole thing too suspect to try. Yes, I do solicit reviews for my books, but won’t shell out a buck for them. I know some people do care about these things, so they’re nice to have. But as for me, the only reviews I pay any attention to are those from actual readers. Sure, sometimes those reviews are very shallow, but for the most part, I find them helpful enough, especially the negative reviews. I do this for the same reasons I ignore “professional” reviews of restaurants and such. I’d much rather hear from regular people who’ve been there.

NOT looking at a book review site.

In the days before Amazon, my method of discovering new books (aside from recommendations from friends) was typically by browsing the shelves at the local bookstore, and the sole factor affecting my decision to buy the book was the blurbage on the back of the book. Even then, I didn’t go in for reviews. Or advertisements. Try as I might, I can’t think of ever in my life having purchased a book because I saw an ad for it.

But today’s marketing is so much more than reviews and ads. It’s Search Engine Optimization. I may hate this more than anything. Because “good SEO” often gets in the way of creativity. According to SEO, a “good” title for a blog is one that plainly states what the blog is about. Certain key words need to be in the article title, the page title, the URL, the content, the meta description, etc. As a writer, I sometimes like to make intriguing titles that wouldn’t necessarily tell you exactly what the blog was about. “Days of Coffees Past,” for example, is a title that I think is intriguing enough to click on. It’s not SEO-friendly, because it’s not especially about coffee, but it’s a much better title than “Using Nostalgia to Improve Your Writing.” Is that title accurate? Sure, I guess. But, good grief, it’s boring.

Despite my abject hatred of marketing, I’m trying to be better at it. Yes, including SEO crap, even when it leads to boring article titles. Sorry about that. (Ironically, the title of this blog qualifies as a “good” title.)

And don’t be shy about chiming in with your thoughts and comments, here. I enjoy hearing from you all. Plus, it would be nice to see a comment on one of my articles that wasn’t spam. (Prediction: I will received multiple spammy comments on this article from SEO people offering to help me.)

Until next time, SEO later.

Posted by vmwales in Marketing/Promotion

Why I’m Not More Successful

About a month ago, I appeared on a live TV broadcast of Good Day Sacramento. It was just for a few minutes, wherein I answered some fairly general questions about my latest book. One question, however, I wasn’t expecting. But I should have. Because it’s a question that non-writers seem to be obsessed with: What do you do about writer’s block?

I’m hesitant to buy this…

I have to admit that the question annoyed me. I wanted to talk about the book I’d written, or even just about writing. I didn’t want to talk about not writing. I handled the question well enough, I suppose, but I’d be happy if I never had to talk about it again.

People seem to think that writer’s block is the the writer’s main nightmare. They think it’s the result of running out of things to say. I suppose for some writers, that’s the case. But I think it’s more often the result of having too many things to say, the ideas getting log-jammed in your head. The problem is, therefore, not knowing which thing to say. I also think writer’s block is something that happens less and less frequently as you become a better writer, because you learn what to do when it happens.

So writer’s block is not an issue for me. It isn’t what has prevented me from being more successful. Nope. That would be because of one specific thing.

Marketing sucks.

I hate marketing. I don’t think I’m very good at it, and I don’t like taking time away from writing in order to promote. I suppose I’m just hoping for the sort of viral success that can only come by word-of-mouth. I know I have fans out there, just not enough yet to reach critical mass, where it’s inevitable that my work will sell well.

I guess it’s not too different from waiting to win the lottery. As they say, you’ve got to play to win. With publishing, you’ve got to promote to win. And just as I’ll happily accept any lottery tickets given to me, I’ll gladly welcome the efforts of volunteer marketing people! Any takers? For either?

Posted by vmwales in Marketing/Promotion, Problems, Writing Process