Ok, let's talk marketing and agents. I'm going to just touch lightly on this topic. This is just my thinking on things so far, not a definitive take on the topics.
What brings this up is PNWA meeting I attended last night. The speaker is a former/current marketing consultant who is also selling a memoir. That's not genre and for all I know her advice is quite valid for non-fictions writers. Me, I write fantasy and science fiction. That's what I read and what I love. The rules may be different.
So what did she say? She said before you even pursue an agent, you need to have a marketing plan in place. Since marketing is one area where I know I don't know anything about it. I was willing to give her a listen. Again, for all I know, she might be right but I'm a little skeptical.
Her suggested marketing plan did have some good thoughts. Let me go over them first.
- Purchase your name as your website domain. (Done and yes, try hard to own your name online)
- Set up a web site (done, I used ipage.com for now)
- Blog consistently and productively. (um, trying? I try to update four or five times a week. By some standards that's pretty good.)
- Be active in the writing community. (eg: Joining PNWA, attending writer and sci-fi conventions, running a critique group)
She also hit the social media sites hard: Twitter, Facebook, Scribd. I hate those sites. They feel either like a huge time sink or I feel like a whore sending out updates like (check out my new blog post, buy my book)
Now, I realize this feeling of pimping myself out is something going to have to get over. Just like my introversion at conventions. So I'm saying social networking isn't important in promoting your work. It is. Following and developing a following on facebook and twitter IS a good way to stay connected. I'm just concerned about how much of a time sink it could be. I need to be WRITING, not just blogging, twittering. Still, if I want to do this full time, I need to master it. So that's a to do for me.
Ok, that was the good stuff. The other half made me cringe. She related that she had a difficult time getting agent attention because she didn't have enough of a 'following'.* Don't get me wrong, once you have a book out, it IS your job to pimp that bad boy as hard as you can. It is very, very unlikely (so far as I can tell) that the publisher is going to do much or spend much on you. Our success is in our own hands. But that said, I have hard time believing that's true. And I have a harder time trusting an agent who rejects me on that basis.
More agent warning signals: Her agent refused to send her book out to publishers UNTIL she had her marketing plan in place. I mean, WTF? What is the point of having an agent if she's not going to frelling submit your work. I worry about her and her agent.
I wouldn't work with an agent who refuses to even frelling submit my work. I realize that agents are trying/are evolving into the gatekeepers for publishers. But I don't think that's what agents should be doing, in fact I plan to submit my stuff to editors instead of agents...I may need to figure a way around the 'no unagented submissions' boilerplate but maybe boldness will work.
In fact, that's what I'm going to end on for now. Be bold. As Gothe said, "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Own your name online, set up your website blog about writing, send your manuscripts out and trust in your talent and in your ability to improve by reading and writing.
Ok, enough for now. Time to go write.
*(Now again, this may be a memoir-specific problem. Frankly, unless you've had a pretty amazing life, I don't see why I should read your memoirs. I mean, there are 25 year old strippers who are trying to convince me her 'life's story' is worth reading. Personally, I find that hard to swallow. I think a memoir is only appropriate once you've lived for a while and accomplished something, but hey, that's me.)