Putting the PR in Published Writer
There’s enough digital ink out there spilled on what you should do when you’re a writer and what you should do when it comes to marketing yourself. So I’m not going to talk about that.
What I am going to talk about is the importance of PR, that is, public relations when you are trying to market yourself. This advice goes to both traditionally-published authors and indie authors.
Say this with me:
There is no privacy on the internet.
There is no privacy on the internet.
I’m over-simplifying things because, you know, I’m not allowed to hack into your webcam and spy on you. That’s the NS+++++CARRIER LOST+++++
But when you post something on the internet, everyone can see it. Crazy idea, right?
I’ll give you an example: My work shift for the past year and a half allows me to waste some time on the internet at 7-8 in the morning. I’ll see a note on Facebook or a link to a news article and I’ll read the comments. Why? Because I have morbid curiosity (and just a teensy bit of masochism). I’m looking at these comments out of amazement that someone can post the most vile things with their proper name, which is often tied to their place of employment or their school.
Then they act surprised when they face disciplinary action, and claim an assault on freedom of speech and the press.
I want to ask them:
- Wow, dude, do you not have work right now?
- You do know other people can see what you’re posting?
- You do know that you’re exhibiting a clear case of misunderstanding the first amendment, right?
You’re now wondering: Oh, c’mon DosAguilas, don’t let your feathers get rustled. That’s all political. I have my own blog, too! I just talk about writing and what I’m reading.
Here’s the thing: Your blog is still public. I’ll give you an example and I’ll use vague details, because I don’t want to add on to the mob.
Writer A goes to a small convention and meets Agent B, who offers a cursory critique of his work.
Writer A is offended that Agent B didn’t fawn over them.
Writer A pens a diatribe attacking Agent B’s person.
Writer A is descended upon by a well-meaning lynch mob seeking to defend Agent B (who is 100% in the right)
Now, what happens?
Writer A is now pretty much radioactive.
All because he/she/they decided to go on to the attack, in a field where marketing is crucial to success.
That is why it’s important that you, the budding and soon-to-be established writer, are very careful about what you post. Now, I’m not saying, don’t post negative things. That’d be silly of me. You’re completely entitled to post negative things, but I highly recommend that if it’s something contentious, as the situation with Writer A and Agent B was, you back everything you say up with data and figures, and stand by them.
I’ll give you an example: A few months ago, I wrote about an issue I had with a state-wide convention. Then, the convention did an amazing thing: they listened to the concerns I and many others had voiced. And then…check this, not only did they apologize, but they also worked with many of the people who had voiced concern to come to a compromise. And what did I do? I wrote a post about how they had done just that, because just as I’m willing to say something negative, I should be just as willing to say something positive. I thanked them, I made sure to tweet at them, and I showed my appreciation. It’s like yelp. We, as a culture, are so quick to rush to Yelp when our food is cold or a waiter decides to take a detour through the former Soviet Union before bringing you the wrong order. How come we’re not as willing to do the same thing if we have a positive experience?
So be mindful of what you post. Know that there’s an audience out there. Know that someone is watching, someone is reading. Personally, I don’t shy away from Twitter or Facebook when it comes to subjective opinions.
For instance, I don’t like Domino’s pizza. If I had to rank the (national) chains, it’d be Pizza Hut > Little Caesar’s > Papa John’s > Cici’s > gravel that’s been soaking in fertilizer for a week > Dominos.
But I’m not attacking a person. I don’t want to attack people. I blog three times a week and the most “political” I get is when I talk about the lack of diversity in Young Adult literature or MFA programs. I don’t talk about my own political viewpoints because I’m extremely [ redacted ] and I’ll be voting for [ redacted ] in the 2016 election and I would hope that the people who are voting for [ redacted ] don’t just write me off as a [ redacted ] no-good, filthy [ redacted ], because I want them to judge me for my writing, my works, my poems, not for my views. If they want to go on a lengthy commenting tirade about how my characters are too blank, or too blanky-blank, awesome! I’ll politely and excitedly disagree, because to me that’s one for the W column anyway: someone read, and someone felt something about my work.
Plus, I don’t have my writing blog as a platform to proselytize about the wonders of [ redacted ], and you shouldn’t either. Talk about your writing. Talk about your work. Talk about your art. Talk about your books and why you’re impassioned about them. Bring positivity. You’re eventually going to step on feathers SOMEWAY, and that’s fine, but keep your head held high. Ego is a hindrance in this business. At the end of the day, we were all dragged out kicking and screaming from someone’s insides, so we have no right to get all huffy.
All that being said:
When a fellow writer does engage in some shenanigans, says, or even does something stupid, don’t join in the lynch mob (unless the person did something to you or an immediate friend, in which case, pitchforks away), because you’re not adding anything. Rather than jump in against the Mr./Ms. Shenanigan, jump in for the other person. Talk them up. Counter the negativity with the positivity.
Here’s an interesting perspective on the subject.
At the end of the day, I go back to what I said earlier: This is about marketing. I’m not saying be buddy-buddy with everyone, their mom, and their dog. But you can be polite. You can have disagreements. You can also avoid other people and they can avoid you.