Friday, September 25, 2009

Too Many Hats: Writer, Editor... Marketing Machine?

Today's blog post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner got me thinking about marketing. She linked to an article from yesterday's Washington Post and asked; "Does the requirement to be a marketer have any effect on your desire to be a published author?"

In my response to her post I immediately wrote:

"Isn't this the reason we writers blog and Tweet and network in the first place? I understand that writing the book isn't the end of my job-- I'm still trying to get a literary agent, and I know the hard work won't end there. Why would I want to stop working hard to sell myself once I finally get the opportunity to reach a huge market?

Reading articles about authors like Corrigan actually inspires me to do a better job marketing myself. And I want to get myself out there before my book is released. Book trailers and websites are one thing, but Corrigan got herself out there and physically sold over 2000 copies individually. It seems like a good strategy to spend a huge chunk of your advance (what the IRS won't take) on promotion. It paid off in the end for her."

But the more I've thought about it, the more daunting the task of selling myself seems. Do I have an online presence worth bragging about? Does anyone even read my blog? What do I need to do to get people to pay more attention to my writing? How the frack do I make a book trailer? Do I need my own website if I don't even have an agent yet?

Is it ever too early to begin marketing yourself? I mean, the querying process is like a practice marketing stage, right? Now that I've got a few rounds of querying under my belt, I ought to be ready for the next level. But I always thought I'd need to wait until I got an agent and sold a manuscript to start advertising myself and my novel. In today's competitive market (where agents can check a writer's blog or google them before offering requesting a manuscript or offering representation) am I selling myself short if I'm not presenting my best self to the online community?

Who cares about little old TereLiz if she don't even bother to use her real name?

I love the anonymity this blog offers me. I've also never been a fan of Facebook or *shudder* MySpace and never had an account for either. At first I didn't want to use my full name because I will probably be using a pen name if I publish a novel, using my own name for scholarly art history articles. I don't want to compromise my success as a writer just because I like my privacy, but am I shooting myself in the foot if an agent can't find my writing blog online by googling my name?

Reading Rachelle's post has me worried and the demons of doubt are starting to claw their way back into my life. It's been over a month since I've made any real progress on my WiP. Sure, that time hasn't been wasted since I'm still querying EVANGELINE, but I can't help feeling that the three partials I have out will garner me no full requests. Doubt demons are the cruelest of the bunch, you know, making me second-guess every decision I've made about my professional life. I feel like Bartholomew Cubbins up there, perplexed and not knowing which hat is which and when to wear it.

Perhaps I ought to lift the veil of anonymity here on my blog. If it is only holding me back, and hurting my chances of getting an agent, I should do it. I just didn't realize when I started this blog that I should be cultivating an online presence. As not another nameless, faceless writer, but as myself, a real person with a story to sell, er, I mean tell. ;)

I do know this, despite the demons of doubt: when I sell a manuscript to a publisher, I'll do whatever is in my power to sell it to the world. Writing the book is the easy part. Selling it takes long hours, hard work and devotion that make writing the book seem like writing a bad haiku. (Is there a such thing as a bad haiku? I mean, as long as it has the correct number of syllables it's a haiku, right? Something to think about.) If selling my book means traveling and spending my own advance and then some to do the marketing my book needs, I know I'll do it. But what do I need to do before I get to that point?

Any thoughts about the lengths you'd go to sell your book?


Lazy Writer said...

Interesting. I have been thinking the opposite. When I google my name, stuff about another author with my name comes up. I've been thinking of changing my blog over to a new pen name. Now, you have me reconsidering. Hmm...lots of thinking to do.

Tess said...

Maybe you want to write under the name of TereLiz as well - that's a super cool pen name, imho. And, it means people won't be knocking on your door at 2am when Evangeline becomes a best seller.

And, let me know when you're ready to make a book trailer. Mine's not perfect or anything but I can at least offer the basics. It is surprisingly easy and free. :)

Sarah said...

Here here! It's never too early to market yourself. I'm working on a website now and trying desperately to think of new ways to get attention. God, I sound like the high school cheerleader finding new ways to gain a reputation.

But you know what I mean. The more fans you gain now, even before you are published, the easier it will be to market later. You'll already have a stellar fan base and a name for yourself online, yah know?

TereLiz said...

LW, when I google the name I go by, mostly my professional or college things come up, which is good, I guess. But I thought I wanted to keep those personae separate. Now I'm not so sure. Glad I'm not the only one with those worries.

Tess, lol, I'd almost be grateful if they did. Almost. ;) And your book trailer is great. I had no idea you did it yourself. Thanks!

Sarah, you are completely right, I just need to make a decision soon about what name I will be writing under and stick with it. Then I need to start blogging more, and networking, and Twitter, etc., etc., etc!

Rebecca Knight said...

I think you're doing a great job of getting yourself out there, despite what the demons say!

However, I do think to build an online presence, people have to be able to connect you to your writing when the time comes. I am all for you using the name that will show up on your book :), but I completely understand the draw of anonymity as well. It's just a choice you have to make.

I'm glad, and I'm sure agents will be, too, that you are thinking about this now, and taking the risks to put yourself out there. You rock, Tere!

Suzanne said...


I can't think past the agent part. Once I get to there, I'll see......

Tere Kirkland said...

becca, you are so right! So I've decided to go by Tere Kirkland now. I don't think I need a blog post to "celebrate" the change. I'll just go with it and try to make the change over as painlessly as possible.


Suzanne, I know what you mean!