San Francisco Writers Conference: Day 2 (Part Two)

Picking up where I left off earlier: the next session I attended was about publicity and “discoverability.” Since we didn’t go over the definition, I’m not 100% what “discoverability” is, but if I had to guess, I’d say it has to do with you being easy to find via an online search. Basically, an online presence. Now the talk really slanted toward nonfiction authors with a lot about helping journalists when they need an expert on a topic, but I think much can be applied to fiction writers as well.

Rusty Shelton was the speaker. He pointed out what a lot of speakers have during this weekend: we now have fewer journalists covering as much or more information than ever before. And they need constant content. So if you think of yourself, your blog or website, as a micromedia outlet . . . What kind of magazine would you be? Hopefully not all ads! You want to provide useful content, the kinds of articles people will want to read. Then you can get regular “subscribers,” people who will read your site regularly. Curate content too—guest authors and interviews, etc. I know a lot of bloggers already do this, especially in the form of blog tours, but you should be doing it all the time, even when you don’t (or someone else doesn’t) have anything to sell at the moment. You don’t want every call to action on your site to be, “Buy my book!” That gets old fast.

Don’t call the media; give them a reason to call you. Sign up for HARO and volunteer when there’s something you’re an “expert” on. (Hey, if anyone needs Sherlock Holmes commentary, I’m their gal!) Even if you’re a romance writer (and this is something Stephanie Chandler said in a later talk), you can use things like holidays as a springboard: “Top 10 Ways to be More Romantic.” Because romance writers should know, right?

The key comes in finding something in or about your book that makes people want to share it, that causes them to interact with and personalize the content. Does your book make people want to create a list of 1,000 things to be grateful for? Then the readers will share that list and there is more visibility for your book.

You should also be very aware of your Google search results. What pops up if you Google yourself? You want to make sure any old blogs, embarrassing YouTube videos, etc. are NOT at the top (and preferably not there at all).

The following session by Stephanie Chandler about publicity via more traditional outlets (radio, newspapers, magazines) reiterated much of what Shelton said. Some additional considerations: When writing a press release, don’t just make it about a new book coming out. New books come out all the time. It’s not news. Hook with the press release title and make sure the first paragraph contains all the journalistic elements: who, what, where, when, how, why. Give them a reason to care.

Pitch to Internet radio stations. Add a media/press page to your site so journalists (and bloggers, reviewers, potential interviewers) can easily find your bio, contact info, and a list of your credits. And Stephanie said one other interesting thing: If you are self-publishing with a big box company (Amazon, CreateSpace), put your own publishing logo on the book. It looks more professional.

That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow I have a guest excerpt from Christine Rains as part of her Dragonslayer blog tour, plus I’ll go over Guy Kawasaki’s keynote talk and tell you what the fiction editors had to say (but as a teaser: not as keen on self-publishing as a lot of the other speakers have been).

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