I usually wake up with fiction stories in my head. I’ve kept writing fiction in the last month, but the stories in my head lately have mostly been blogs.
Here’s the futurist take on it:
Earth has become a computer connected world. I’m a science fiction writer – so a bigger percentage of my readers are online than some other genres might be. The raw population of the world is bigger than it ever has been (and has grown by around 30% in the last twenty years). The broadband connected population is growing. Younger generations know how to use the web to market and to decide what to buy; they were born with keyboards and monitors and ipods and cell phones. Marketing of everything from underwear to toothpaste to cars has gone viral and online. Physical means of delivering information (newspapers and bookstores) are dying.
I don’t like it, but I can’t change it. I had foolishly hoped the old ways might support me anyway. You know, that past world where writers write, agents sell, publishers publish and market. Yes, everyone still does do their job. I still depend on my capable agent and editor and publisher. But I have to do more than write, since there are a lot of equally capable writers (and better and further along writers) out there who are also marketing effectively. John Scalzi. Jay Lake. Cory Doctorow. Neil Gaiman. Tobias Buckell. Mary Robinette-Kowal. Elizabeth Bear. If I want to sell my fiction, I have to do more than just write it. I have to market myself and my work. I’ll admit I do like attention, but I’m not the natural self-promoter that, for example, Jay Lake is.
On a personal level, I got a shock that made this into a mission for me – an expected easy sale didn’t materialize. I sat back and had a little cry (well, all right, maybe a big one) and went WTF? and thought about it over a cup of coffee. Then I emailed some friends, including Jay Lake, and went “Help!” Jay connected me to the able Jeremy Tolbert, who I hired for some advice (and he did a very nice job). I contacted Shaun Farrell, and he agreed to let me do some guest blogs (and by the way, if you comment there, you may win a free book. I’ve already given one away). I was going to do a video for my public speaking career anyway, and paid extra for an interview about my books. I’m working with the fellow who did the video, Tim Reha, to plan more videos (and get better at them. I learned a LOT from video number 1 – video number 2 will be better. I know how to talk – even on camera – so that was fine, but I came off looking a bit like a middle-aged business person instead of a cool writer, and spent way too much time head-nodding).
So what exactly am I doing?
- I use my Twitter account a lot. A lot more than I thought I would, actually.
- I use Facebook
- I’m trying to get more guest blogs set up. For example, my writer’s group is all pro writers and we’re going to guest each other’s blogs.
- I’ve had the videos made through my work at Futurist.com (three – two futurist videos, one of which mentions my books, and one just about the books)
- I’m getting better at categorizing and tagging posts
- I’m learning these tools. That’s not as small a job as it sounds like.
- I’m spending a lot of time talking to people (on line and face to face)
- I improved my website from a social networking viewpoint
- I’m blogging about twice as often
- We have a loosely linked personal interest site shared by me, Toni, and three dogs called threedogsblog.
- I’m part of a shared futurist twitter feed.
- Make that sale materialize. Other sales, too. Don’t worry, I won’t leave all my eggs in one basket. But I’m stubborn and I want the one that want.
- Get good (and efficient) at this – I’m still spending way too much time. I don’t have time.
- Become an expert. This will be useful in my day job anyway.
- Stay authentic – some suggestions have been too “markety” and feel about as friendly as the new Facebook design. I don’t want to do that. I want to actually connect.
So here is a set of random comments about what I’ve learned and done so far.
- This is complex. Link things as much as you can. For example, if I Twitter, it shows up on FaceBook. Friends helped me with that, too.
- I have lost writing time. I have to be careful with that balance. Writer’s write. The sound of valuable time draining away is the most insidious part of social networking.
- Some of this is free. Some of it isn’t. I’ve spent money to save research time – that’s a good trade for me. But if I had more time than money, I could learn this stuff. People are helpful. If you ask someone how they did something, they’ll probably share.
- I have had some new people comment. I’ve had more comments. Nothing like the major blogs. Drop by and look at Scalzi’s Whatever to see a real following. But mine’s growing, and just like your books don’t start out on the lists unless you’ve been there before, electronic readership builds. I’m still seeing more comments from my friends in the writer community than the reader community, but that’s okay. I like my friends, and the other circle is growing, too.
- Since I’ve asked for advice and gained help along the way (free and fee-based) I feel like I have a cheering team in this effort. That actually matters.
- I have no idea yet if what I’m doing translates to the physical book sales I want. The two industries – internet word-of-mouth marketing and social conversations, and the New-York based book industry – are at opposite side of the time continuum. One changes moment by moment, the other is slow and often misleading (because of the returns-based book model, and because authors, and I suspect others, can’t seem to get information in a timely way)
- New York is learning, too. Torforgeauthors and I follow each other. There is also a torbooks out there. I suspect the difference is the editing and publicity arms of the house, but I actually don’t know. Maybe it’s Tor’s official tweets and all of our authorial wisdon in tweet form. Good for them, anyway. And drop by Tor.com for some of the best online fiction.
What about you? What web 2.0 stories are you waking up with? What ideas do you have?