PART SIX: Your Exposure Plan
Yup, that’s pretty much how I feel too by this point in the game. You’ve struggled through determining how to be the perfectly balanced writer and businessperson, you’ve determined how long your book (and commitment to it) will be, you’ve discovered and uncovered unique hooks and new markets for your book, and you’ve separated your author platform from your book platform. You’ve identified target markets and all along the way, polished and honed your work. Definitely … it’s time for a little indulgence, and exposure is part of that indulgence, believe it or not.
Remember all those stories about the pretty girls who would send themselves flowers and candy just to make sure the object of their affection knew that they were indeed desirable and worth having? What fun (and I’m not admitting I ever did anything of the sort!), right? Now, creating exposure isn’t quite like that, but it serves the same purpose by clearly stating that your book is something desirable and worth reading. Without having to send yourself fake acceptance letters from bogus publishers, there are several ways to get exposure without cheating, lying or breaking the bank.
Before we move on, I want to explore that image of pretty girl sending herself flowers a little further. Oh to be her. To have that kind of confidence! To know, without a doubt that she is a real catch and point it out so blatantly. I talk to writers and even published authors every day and am always shocked and amazed by two things.
- The lack of confidence
- The inability to see the focus
Lack of Confidence
As writers we start out feeling pretty good. I call this the Germination Period, the point where we realize we really do have a unique and powerful story to tell and the ability to write it. Then we go through the actual work, the writing, the critique groups, the mentorship, the rewriting and the polishing. This is the Lookie what I can do! Phase. We’ve defended and learned, grown and sharpened our craft, then we go into the Dark Realm Period and that’s where everything gets haywire. The Dark Realm? Querying, getting rejection after rejection and somewhere in the shuffle of kind and not-so-kind rejections, we lose the girl sending herself flowers. We forget who we are and begin to feel like failures. There’s only one way to combat the dark realm period. Get the hell out of the dark realm by moving faster ahead. Face facts, there are a lot of stones on the road to Oz and you are going to trip on every one of them. Keep your eyes on the prize and remember … it only takes one “yes”. Keep that original confidence, in fact, make it stronger as you go.
The Inability to see the Focus
Okay, now this one really baffles me. Aside from fear of rejection, almost all writers and authors have one other career destroying flaw – the inability to see the true focus of their journey. It never fails, every time I talk to a writer or author it’s the same story. They think that it’s not time to expose their work yet, that the book isn’t done or represented or contracted or published yet, so it’s too early to actually expose it or even plan for its success. This is a fundamental problem that must be addressed and obliterated. First of all, and I know this may sound crazy insane to some of you but … your book is NOT the product!
Honestly, it’s YOU you will be exposing, promoting and getting people excited about. It’s YOU who will be sharing the journey and excitement about writing your book. It’s YOU! How do I know this? Simple. Ask yourself a simple question. Is this the only book you will ever write? If so, we have nothing more to discuss. Sayonara. Have a nice life. But I can tell you one thing; I have yet to come across a writer who seriously aspires to be a one book wonder. YOU are the first product, YOU are the last product. YOU are THE product. Once a writer focused on that simple truth, everything gets easier. And of course, it gets more active.
Activity buffers the rejections. It plays into the universe’s plan for advancement against all odds. We didn’t write our books on a cave wall, right? Advancement started when man started and now we can move into the magic activity of getting exposure!
Here are the seven sexy ways to get exposure and recognition early and for a long time.
- Be consistent. I’d like to start with just a brief few words about consistency. A writer has an unspoken agreement with their readers, whether those readers are twitter followers, FaceBook friends, blog followers or critique group associates. That agreement is to be consistent. Period. It’s a promise that you’ll be there, keep writing, keep being the nice person you are and continue to earn their loyalty. You can’t keep followers or friends if you’re only around sporadically. Be honest, be interesting but most importantly, be there.
- Intensify your social networking. Make it more targeted. A friend of mine is a pilot so we’ll use him here. Suppose you’re a pilot. If you’ve written a book about or surrounding aviation, make sure your followers on Twitter and friends on FaceBook are, if not pilots and aviation workers, at least interested in the field. Talk about your story … without talking about your story. I know, it sounds complex but imagine yourself at a cocktail party when someone your talking with mentions a flight to Bali they recently took. You smoothly mention a flight you piloted there, what happened on your layover and that the experience was so interesting, you even put it in your book. Easy conversation is what Twitter and FaceBook require for optimum results. Your followers and friends need to know and like YOU first, then learn you’re writing a book, then want to know more about the book. Good job at the cocktail party. You’ve just gotten several future sales. Go to the head of the class.
- Use your expertise. A pilot knows a mess of things outside flying a plane but still connected with the experience of flying. Are there areas of special interest about a plane that not only hook into your book, but also spark the imagination? For example, are there little known facts that prospective buyers of your book might like to know? How many times birds bump into a plane, for example. If that’s something interesting and in a small way connected to your book, why not create a blog, written by a bird who often bumps into planes. On the ground, in the air, during landing or take off. The Bruised Bird Blogger (probably a professor-ish pelican with an elegant lisp) could expand the entries beyond the thud and resulting dizziness into what’s going on with the plane itself. He can be the expert passing on knowledge about take off and landing, about what he sees through the windows of the cockpit and the expressions on the passengers’ faces during landing. It could be fun to write, it could be entertaining to read, it could be informative but most of all, it could promote your expertise. It exposes YOU as the author, the Bruised Bird Blogger and the future best seller you’re writing. This is part of what makes agents and publishers think twice before saying “no thanks”. This kind of exposure says that you’re in this as deep as an author can get.
- A friend tells a friend who tells two friends who … Never underestimate the power of “word of mouth”. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the more people who know you are writing a book, the better your chances of exposing it. Everyone you work with should know you’re writing a book. Your dentist, your vet, your drycleaner, your gardener. Spread the love further. Expose it in your email tags, even if it’s something as simple as a line stating, “Writing a book, pray for me”.
- Be a joiner. There are writing and author groups everywhere in the world. If you can’t find one in your town or city, look online. Join Linkedin, I found a few wonderful writing groups there. The cool thing about joining writing and author groups, aside from the wonderful sharing of information and experience, is the fact that it makes us accountable. You tell someone you’re going to write 10,000 words by Thursday or you intend to finish a plot or chapter by Friday and guess what? Someone knows so you have to do it, you just have to. There are no excuses for failing a serious commitment. A promise broken is one of those stones we trip on along the way. Making ourselves accountable to someone helps keep us all honest and moving ahead. Another BIG benefit to joining groups is simple … it’s another universe, another place to expose your book and yourself as an author. Never forget, authors buy books as well as write them.
- Unofficial reviews work. If you have friends who’ve read your book or sneak peek chapter of it (no matter where it is in its process; finished, looking for critique or in the high polish lane) and they love it, get them to say so. Ask them to comment on your blog, or talk about it on Twitter. Ask them to write a guest blog review or tell their friends what they think. Nothing gets more ears perked than when a discussion about a book spontaneously happens on Twitter between a few people. They might mention one of your characters, you will respond, someone else chimes in with a comment then before you know it, someone asks what this is all about and the ball rolls further. Ask for written reviews every time someone reads you work and use those comments to expose the fact that you’re writing a book people really like! This is a perfect thing to put on your book website too, as well as on your author website. Of course, as real reviews come in after you really do make the best sellers list, you will always look fondly on the reviews that came before it was even finished.
- FREE!!! January Magazine. BookBuzzer. Whispers of the Muse. And there are many, many more. What are they? Free or extremely inexpensive ways to get exposure for your book, about your book and in some cases, your book doesn’t even have to be published yet. Take a day and explore the internet for free tools to create an exposure for you as a writer and your book in the works. Write eZines and blogs or even guest blogs about the writing process. Create venues to share the frustrations and thrills of your journey. Nothing wrong with a writers’ night out or online pub (as in publication) crawl. Actively look for people to read sneak peeks chapters of your book and ask for feedback.
Getting exposure is easy. Keeping it going and growing is fun. All you need to do is be creative, keep your confidence and keep your focus! And maybe send yourself some flowers too.
Author Success Coaching
Publicity Marketing Promotions
Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future
Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson
Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles
Lesson 3, How Long
Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform
Lesson 5, Target Markets