Forget Promotion. Think Contribution.

*Note: this is a reprint of the earlier article from my “imploded” version of the blog.  I’ll be posting the ones I’ve been able to recover.  Thanks for your patience!

 

As writers, we of all people should know that words have power. The words “promotion” and “marketing” hold a connotation that we are trying to, paraphrasing the words of Fight Club : “Sell shit you don’t need to people who don’t want it.” The conundrum we then have is: We need sales to write full time, or make some sort of side income, or to connect with readers. We have trouble making sales without marketing and promotion . We grit our teeth and do the marketing and promotion , wearing as cheerful a face as we can while doing something we hate. Or, conversely, we’re pushing because we think we’re supposed to: this is where the asymmetrical mass favor comes in. We’re also causing people to avoid us, because they’d rather covertly unfriend/ignore/block us than actively say “hey, would you stop telling me about your damned blogs? I don’t even really know you. You’re driving me nuts.”

How do you feel about “sharing and contribution?”

I haven’t hit on the perfect metaphor yet, but I’m triangulating and getting closer. Instead of thinking “how can I build my platform?” and building a strategy, I think: How can I give my tribe something it wants? How can I be a member with a valuable contribution ?

What does a contribution look like?

This could be telling someone you’re thinking of her when her husband is in surgery. It could mean recommending a new author that you enjoy to a reader group. Sharing something embarrassing, personal, and funny on your blog. Retweeting a great blog post on Twitter. Liking someone’s comment on Facebook. Answering questions. Asking questions, for that matter. Genuinely listening. Those that think, “well, that won’t make you a bestseller” will agree: there’s no loss and nothing wrong with connecting. I’ll bet it actually creates more ripples than you’d believe. Call it starting a karmotion, if you like.

What about the “sharing” bit?

That’s where your books specifically come in. You’re not trying to be a one-sale stand, as I’ve said. You want to recommend your books to people who would most likely enjoy them. That means identifying your right reader, knowing where she hangs out, and connecting with the hubs that connect with the readers. You’re not selling: you’re connecting. You’re not pushing your ego onto an indifferent crowd. You’re sharing a gift with friends. There. Now doesn’t that feel better?’,

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