Monthly Archives: February 2014

Writers And Self-Marketing

paul_2Literary Promotion Has A Long History!

One of the things we’ve been looking at here at Find My Audience is the evolution of literary promotion: how writers “traditionally” get the word out about their work, how that process is changing, and how writers can best adapt. I put the word “traditional” in quotes since there is really no set of canonical best practices that have held over the last few decades (let alone centuries) for a writer to connect with their audience.

But there have always been ways to get the word out, many of them inventive and outrageous (and hardly in keeping with the image of the writer as a housebound field mouse). Almost three years ago, the journalist and writer Tony Perrottet published a great piece in the N.Y. Times on “How Writers Build the Brand”. He put the modern writer’s need for proactive online self-promotion in the context of great literary marketing campaigns throughout history.

paul_1George Simenon Would Do Sit-ups For A Sale!

It’s quite a tale! In the short article, he traces literary self-promotion back to 440 B.C. when Herodotus stood up in the Temple of Zeus during the Olympic Games to plug his Histories; through Walt Whitman, who “notoriously wrote his own anonymous reviews, which would not be out of place today on Amazon;” up to Simenon, Hemingway, and Nabokov.  It’s a great, often hilarious piece, and every working writer should read it. As Tony puts it, “It’s always comforting to be reminded that literary whoring — I mean, self-marketing — has been practiced by the greats.”

In the three years since that article, online outlets and social media have proliferated even more, creating new, highly specialized, channels for authors to engage with. But it is not always clear how best to do so. Writers sense that their ideal readers are out there, but they don’t want to hang themselves above the street in a glass cage (as Simenon did), go on a reality TV show, or subject themselves to breathless play-by-play. And they justifiably don’t want to spam people.

We believe the immediacy of communication through these channels, and their effectiveness when used wisely, will start to overcome the writer’s natural resistance to self-marketing. When messages are targeted to likely readers, an author can be more confident that they are speaking to someone who may have an interest. They will speak more authentically and with greater confidence, and in turn their work will have a better chance of getting a reading.

fma-audienceFind My Audience’s Audience Page

Writers have feelings, ideas, and stories to impart, and we intend for Find My Audience to help them reach those people who will hear them as signal, not noise…. and not as a brazen attention-grab. That may work for something with superficial or titillating effect (throw an ad up in front of as many people as possible and appeal to the lowest common denominator), but it won’t work for a written work, where ideas and expression have been honed to present the authors’ unique voice or message, and need engaged attention.

For many decades, large enterprises and brands have used sophisticated demographic and market analysis to “find their audience.” The connection between a reader and a book is very different from that between a “consumer” and a product. But it does not mean that writers can’t take advantage of tools that help them assess interest.

Are you a writer looking for your readership? What do you think?

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The Writer’s DashBoard: Your Audience Page

Hi Writers, if you have been following our blog posts, you will know that Find My Audience has been envisioning — and now furiously building — a Writer’s DashBoard for the last six months.

The Writer’s DashBoard will enable any writer to more rapidly and accurately “find” their audience — and then connect with them. We locate and assign a “match” score to your potential readers by analyzing their use of language across the social web.

We have been driven by the vision of a writer waking up in the morning, grabbing his/her coffee (always a first!), and then taking a look at Find My Audience’s Audience’s Page. As this page is constantly adding new audience members , every morning promises a new surprise!

Here’s what the Audience Page looks like:

fma-audience

There are a few things to take note of:

Left Column: you’ll see the icons for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more running down the left column. By clicking on one of those icons, you’ll see your audience in each of those channels. If you prefer, you can click on a view that shows you all of your audience members.

Main Frame: Here’s where you can see your audience. The little red box in the upper right of each picture indicates that person’s “match” score. You can sort your view of your audience in a variety of ways.

Right Column: Here’s where you can more directly engage with a specific audience member. If you like to do mass marketing, you can select a few folks to communicate with or you can engage with your whole audience. Yes, it’s true: the world is your oyster (or at least your audience members are!).

We will be releasing more screen shots over the next few weeks. If you have a great idea for a feature you would like us to add to the mix, just send an e-mail to mark@findmyaudience.com.

Beta coming in three months….

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In The Silence Of The Sun: Jessi Hanson’s ABNA Pitch

jessi

What if silence were your only power?  Amidst the rural landscape of the Dominican Republic, Ame comes of age in a time of poverty and political discord.  She is born the only daughter of the Almeda family, disgraced as traitors to the Trujillo regime ruling the nation.  Ame grows up isolated, born unable to speak and with a past that is kept from her by her family.   She relies on the guidance and love of her abuela Milagros, brothers and her childhood love, Manu.  When she comes of age, she is given away by her father into a relationship with a military trujillista.  Ame struggles to escape her abusive circumstances.  In her journey to take back her life, she must choose to risk everything to join with the men of her family in the clandestine movement, la Catorce de junio, against the oppressive dictatorship swallowing the island.

Jessi Hanson is from Boulder, Colorado.  She received her undergraduate degree in English , with a focus on Latin American literature, from Colorado State University. She served in Peace Corps, in the Dominican Republic.  She holds a Master of International Education Policy, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She has lived in: Washington, D.C., Latin America and West Africa.  She continues to work international in development and aid relief

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Interview With Susan Hughes: Editor Par Excellence

susan2Susan Hughes

Hi Susan, can you describe for us what an “ideal” editor does?
An ideal editor is one who forms a bond and a level of trust with the writer, enabling the writer to have the confidence to hand over his/her precious words—to an absolute stranger!  That trust is built through prompt, friendly communication. Writers have lots of questions about editing, and an ideal editor will be there daily to answer those questions, even before the edit begins.  Then comes the edit itself, and if the bond has been formed, it will be a positive, rewarding, and successful experience for both writer and editor and will hopefully lead to a long working relationship and friendship between the two parties.

 What constitutes a successful edit?
Great question! I feel an edit is a success if the writer is satisfied with the end product. The icing on the cake, however, is when the writer sends me a second editing job—a sequel, perhaps—and I can see that my instruction and suggestions have been taken to heart and incorporated in the next manuscript. Then I know I did my job!

What is the editor’s relationship to the writer?
It’s very important for the editor and the writer to become a team in order for the edit to be successful.  As an editor, however, I accept the fact that I’m not the captain of the team.  I’m not the one who wrote the words or spent hours enveloped in the creative process.  The editor begins with a secondary role and then works to build that trust with the writer that will eventually level the playing field a bit.  

Writers come to you at different stages in their career, with different talents, writing in different genres, and so on. Do you have to customize your editing for each writer?
I edit in the same manner for each writer, regardless of writing skill level or genre.  I use MS Word Track Changes to allow the writer to accept or reject my suggestions.  Writers who have come to know and trust me often ask me to make the changes directly to their manuscript, saving them precious time as they head toward publication.  All edits are customized according to the type of edit the writer requests—whether it’s a basic proofread, a line edit, a developmental edit, or a combination of these.

Self-publishing has exploded in the last few years. Has this resulted in an increase of writers reaching out to you?
Absolutely!  Anyone can be a “published  author” today, thanks to the availability and ease of self-publishing.   I’ve done free edits for many people who think they can just put words on paper and someone will buy their book. Sadly, many people are putting their writing out there without going through the painstaking (and expensive!) process of editing.  It’s those people who have given self-publishing a bad name.

I think I’ve veered from your question; obviously this topic is one about which I have much to say!

But yes, I have seen an increase in the number of writers seeking editing, thanks in large part to the availability of self-publishing.

 You were an educator for 29 years. Do you see editing as an extension of what you did as an educator?
Yes, I do! As an editor I’m still an educator and see the writer as my student, to some extent.  My job is not only to make the words shine and the sentences flow more smoothly, but to actually teach the writer how to make this happen on their own. My edits contain lots of tips and suggestions that, if incorporated, will result in the writer being much better at his/her craft.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.

You offer a free edit to writers so they can see what you offer. Has this been an effective marketing technique for you?
Offering the free edit was by far the smartest thing I did when getting started as an independent editor.  I didn’t really see it as a marketing tool at first, though. My original focus was on finding a way to gauge a writer’s ability level before offering a quote for services.  The free edit was perfect for that. But then I began to notice that this free edit was drawing writers to me—writers who wanted to see what I could do for them. So the free edit turned into a win-win for both writer and editor. I get a good look at the writer’s skill level, enabling me to determine how long an edit will take and offer a fair quote for my services, and the writer gets to see firsthand what a professional editor can do for them.  It’s my chance to shine, to strut my stuff! If I can impress a writer through that free edit, I’ve got one foot in the door!

After all the editing you do, do you still feel like reading for pleasure?
Reading is my favorite pastime. I still try to save time for pleasure reading every evening, and it’s nice to be able to just enjoy a good story without trying to pinpoint errors and “fix” things. I do notice mistakes though, even when reading for pleasure. It can put a damper on things if I let it, but I try not to do that.

You have a new web site going up. When does that go live and why did you redesign it?
I’m actually going to be doing some revamping of the old site, at the suggestion of my wonderful tech guy.  I’m not sure exactly what he has in mind, but I know it will be wonderful.  I recently had a new PR photo taken to replace the one of me in the rocking chair.  While I am a proud grandma, I certainly don’t need to look like one! I also have some new testimonials and links that need to be added, so we’ll be doing some basic updating.  I expect it will be all polished and up by late next week.

 Lastly, how can writers get in touch with you?
I can be reached by email at myindependenteditor@gmail.com.  I also can be found on Twitter, promoting  my clients and marketing my business @hughesedits4u.

I encourage all writers who would like more information about me and my services to visit my website at www.myindependenteditor.com .  To take advantage of my free edit, 1000 words can be submitted directly from the website, using the link provided there.

In conclusion, I want to thank you for conducting this interview with me and giving me the opportunity to share a little bit about myself with your readers.  I’m honored to have been asked to do so.

Disclosure from FindMy Audience: We are, of course, biased in Susan’s favor, as one of our colleagues, Mark, had his work edited by Susan, and is encouraging the rest of us to do likewise!

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