I went to hear a marketing/public relations expert make a pitch to writers the other night. My friend Susan Stoner, whose new book, Dry Rot, received a glowing review in our local newspaper, came with me. Both of us hoped to pick up a pointer or two on how to promote our works. The woman making the presentation was one of my social network acquaintances, though we’d never met.
The presentation was lively but it spread more humor than light. The tips were pedestrian: write a blog, put it on various social networks and work to brand your image, the way McDonalds brands itself with the golden arches. Branding, we were told, allows readers to know what to expect when they see our names on a book jacket.
As to her point about the efficacy of blogs, I remain dubious. I write a blog 5 days a week and have published nearly 2,000. But the woman standing at the lectern touting blogs, and who is a member of my social network, admits she’s never read a single one of mine — which makes my point. Getting people to read your blogs is as difficult as getting them to read your books. Worse, a blog competes for creative time. Only the famous profit from blogs and tweets.
Branding, rather than being a path to a writer’s successes lays a false trail. The theory is that if a writer brands himself, people will buy his work because they recognize him. I doubt it. I suspect that few, if any, reading this blog, can list the names of the first 5 writers on the current New York Times Best Seller fiction list. Branding means nothing unless people have read at least one of your books. The dilemma posed is like the one in the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” You have to be known to sell books; but you have to sell books to be known.
What I want from a marketer/PR person isn’t empty advice for which I am asked to pay dearly. I want action. I want to hear that he or she has connections: that I will be interviewed on the Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live or CBS news. I want to believe that he or she can get my books reviewed in the New York Times, Harper’s or the Atlantic Monthly. When a marketer/ PR person can do any of that, I’ll not only pay his or her exorbitant fee, I’ll mosey over to the OK corral and get myself branded with the steers, too.
(Courtesy of www.astrsean.com_