The Beast that is Audience.

In my past life, I was a pioneer–one of those 19th century folk in covered wagons that you saw in 8-bit playing Oregon Trail. And when I died from dysentery, I must’ve skipped my drink at the River of Oblivion.

The reason I bring this up: When people bring up social media platforms, I’m totally like, “What witchcraft is this?”

O_O -_- O_O

^^^ that’s a blank-faced blink (say that ten-times fast) ^^^

How the heck did writing become 50% self-promotion on a bajillion social media platforms?! Is this actually necessary! Isn’t a writer supposed to write?! When did a writer become a freakin’ entertainer!

Oh, wait. Books are considered entertainment. Damn it. >_<

I just don’t like it. I haven’t liked expressing myself on social media since high school when teenage angst was vented in brooding “status” updates and bad poetry (I’ll share it one of these days, I promise) and then summarily removed when I came to my senses.

How has this villainous enterprise which was once the bane of my self-esteem become essential to my career?!

*breathing rapid and harsh* *suddenly calm* *tucks hair behind her ears*

I mean, I get it. I totally get it. Our bodies exist in the real world but our minds live online. If writers want to get noticed, it’s no longer through bookstores and libraries. We must claw out our own little existence in the world that is Online.

This goes for traditional publishing as well as independent publishing. The necessity for independent publishing is obvious–you market yourself–but you need to promote yourself TO GET picked up by traditional publishers and AFTER getting picked up too.

First, an editor is much more likely to read my manuscript if I can say on my cover letter that I have 20,000 people on my mailing list with a 10% open rate because that means I have at least 2,000 people who follow my writing and will talk about it with other people when I publish something. More even, because people on my mailing list are more likely to look at my email if I have a special announcement or a promotion going.

Second, after a traditional publisher picks me up (if a traditional publisher picks me up), new authors have to promote themselves because the traditional publisher puts a lot more money towards the top authors. New authors are bottom of the barrel most of the time. I’ll be arranging my own promotions and signings.

Third, if things go awry, the only thing I’ll have left after leaving a publisher is my mailing list. It is the only way I’ll have to take readers with me.

Here’s the catch though. I need subscribers to attract publishers, but I need published content to attract subscribers.

Ha!

That’s why I’m looking at independent publishing so seriously. Either way, cultivating a niche audience is the first step.

The reason I’m specifying “niche” audience is because books are products, too. When you think of it that way, then me cultivating a “niche audience” is equivalent to “growing a consumer base.” The business principles are the same. I need to find my consumers, entice them to buy, and keep them coming back for more.

The nice thing about books is it’s not like households only buy one kind and nothing else. Yes, I’m competing with the hundreds of thousands of authors out there and the millions of books they’re publishing, but not head-to-head. In fact, if I can squeeze in with some of these authors, most are happy to share their readers. We can promote each other. That’s one of the unique aspects of the book business. It’s the nature of the system that’s the enemy, not the people in the system. It’s a relief to face the beast together.

That’s the thing, I guess. These measly social media platforms are my arsenal. Other writers are my comrades-in-arms. And you… You are the enemy.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

(Borderlands fanart by yhrite on Tumblr)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s