On Publicity and Self Promotion

I will admit that I’m new to this whole self promotion thing. I resisted writing this blog, under the mistaken impression that I would be able to get one of those sweet publishing contracts that were all the rage back in the 1950’s. Those contracts, with provision for the publisher to actually promote your work, don’t exist for anyone but the biggest names (and even those are getting harder and harder to come by – even if you get one there will be less for you in it than you might expect). When I came to the realization that all those wonderful provisions would never be mine and that the world of professional writing was trending more toward freelancing I realized that I had to get out here and promote myself.

I am by no means an expert in this, but I have learned a few things by making mistakes and watching others make mistakes.

The first thing that I learned is that I have to show my human side. Think about it – do you follow people on twitter who do nothing but tweet the buy link for their novels? Probably not – they are boring. However, if I follow someone because they have interesting or witty things to say, I’m more likely to follow a buy link that they send out. The same is true of blogs (and I hope that I’m getting this one more right than wrong). Blogs that only write out memes or follow the little games like “Tuesday Ten” are boring. I don’t mind seeing some of that, but I want some substance too.

I try to remember to tweet when I’m not writing as much as I tweet when I am. I respond to my friend’s tweets. I talk about more than just writing – and even when I do talk about writing I try to keep it more interesting than “I wrote 2K so far today”. Not always, as I mentioned above, a little of that is OK, but not everything. In this blog I try to give my reasoned and honest opinions in fun and interesting ways. Occasionally I take time away from telling you about writing to tell you about the rest of my life (see “Adventures in Urban Farming” posts). I can see from the number of site views each day that I’m not reaching a very wide audience yet, still I know that the only way to keep you – oh faithful reader – is to be interesting.

The other mistake that I see (and have committed) is dropping out. I’ll admit that I dropped out for about three months earlier this year because someone hacked my site and my service provider had to delete everything to contain the virus the hackers had inserted. That’s when I learned that just because it’s on the web doesn’t make it safe from computer crashes. I’ve stopped following other bloggers because they stop updating. I have no idea why they stop, maybe they got too busy or had a family crisis, who knows. For all I know they were the car crash on the evening news three months ago. It doesn’t matter. Once I stop following a blog, I have to be lured in again like a new reader. The blogs that I follow more closely are the ones that maintain a predictable schedule of posts. They put up notices when they have to be away, telling their readers when they will be back. I strive for that kind of consistency. I haven’t always met it, but I try.

Not everything I have learned comes from mistakes though. My husband (a web designer) tells me all sorts of things about the inner workings of the internet. I’m not going to make a fool of myself here by trying to explain it to you – I only understand about half of what he says. One thing that I do get is that links are important to the bots that scan the internet for the search engines like Google and Bing. Those bots don’t know the difference between links the way you and I do. All they care about is how many links are on your site and how many link back to it. That’s actually why bloggers like comments so much. That email address you have to enter that won’t be published is a link. If you actually enter a link to your blog – that’s another link (and yea, that one counts for you too). When I tweet out my link to tell you that I posted – that’s a link. If you retweet it, that’s another one. The other thing that the bots look for is page views. So every time you look at my site, that gives me one more point towards the top of the search list.

So when I participate in a Blog Hop, I offer prizes to people who leave comments. Why? Because each comment gives me a link or two, and when you click around to leave your comments you up my page views (because the main page is different than the site page, and then you go to the comment page and back to the site page). You of course get a benefit too – you get a chance at those prizes. Some of you may have noticed that I participated in a blog hop this weekend (Alpha Male blog hop). If you go back and look at the comments, you will notice that the vast majority of them are thinly veiled versions of “I’d like to win that prize”. To be honest, I wouldn’t have cared if they had said exactly that. I appreciate the ones that actually related to the post that I had written. The thing is, whether they were just leaving a comment to get an entry or not, they were improving my stats. They read my post (at least most of them did), and maybe some of them were intrigued enough to come back when it’s not a hop. If I gain even one new reader I will have won.

All of it is just one teeny tiny step on my way to fame and fortune, or at least book sales (when I manage to get one out there to sell – hopefully that will be soon). Thank you for reading. I couldn’t do this without you.


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