The Search for Free Publicity

Image

It may be a noble pursuit to seek out free publicity for your self-published book. After all, great work deserves to be shared and talked about, right? The problem is, there is a tremendous amount of great work that doesn’t get promoted by media outlets merely because the work exists. Sadly, great work’s existence means little to the world without some sort of relevance or meaning to specific “influentials” who can share your voice, who likely believe that your work may help a sector of the world look at itself differently, understand itself, or be thoroughly entertained. It’s up to us as writers to find these reasons in our work, share them, and get our work in the hands of those someones who can champion it.

When I wrote The Silent Partner, I was conscious of my professional standing working in advertising here in San Diego, and utilized relationships for part of the promotion of my first novel in getting a little bit of local press. (For this, I was very fortunate.) Of course, I used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube (for the book trailer), my blog, and my website to promote my work . . . and still do. But to expand beyond my own little ecosystem of what I hope others don’t consider self-importance, I continue to aspire to connect with other writers’ blogs and book-reading communities. A GREAT place to start, with readers hungry for material they want to love.

By contrast, I’ve twice paid a publicist to also assist with press releases, and have gotten interest in my novel’s subject matter more than a few times by media outlets. Publicists’ work is not underrated, either. It’s not cheap . . . that is for sure. But in the end, once you’re on track to become a master of your type of work, and you’ve promoted yourself beyond what you can by yourself, I very much recommend getting a publicist. Even a 4-week campaign can be a shot of adrenaline into the marketing of your book. You’ll get it into hands of people you otherwise would not have. And then, whether something “big” happens with your book or not, you’ll experience growth as a marketer of yourself, you’ll become smoother at your presentation of yourself and your work, you’ll make some new contacts, make new friends, sell a few books, and you can spend more of your energy starting your next project.

Writing a Novel Like a Movie

Image

When I wrote The Silent PartnerI wrote it with visual stimulations of storytelling that I hoped would resonate with readers. Sure, there had to be great mechanics, grammar, structure, character, story construction, and prose. But to make emotion resonate throughout the story visually, the reader had to see and feel the story unfold. 

I often get frustrated reading stories that have too much description (and adverbs) or not enough of it. (Straight dialogue does get right to it, doesn’t it? To me, this can be even more like a screenplay, but–personal taste–I desire to read stories that allow me to sink into the story.) 

Of course, I had no idea if I was going the right direction with The Silent Partner, but after winning two Eric Hoffer Awards, including 1st Place in Commercial Fiction, now I really hope I’m onto something. I’m not proclaiming this process is revolutionary. It’s simple: connect with readers swiftly and powerfully. I wrote the novel this way, and will do this with the next one as well.

Simple tactics I employed:

  • Details matter, but too many of them distract the reader and slow the narrative drive.
  • Use the details that mean something. Use symbolism when appropriate, and don’t use clichéd ones.
  • Stay away from adverbs whenever possible. It forces you to show the reader something a different way. Some readers think adverbs are lazy. I normally just don’t like the way they look on the page. (The occasional adverb is also more powerful then, too.)
  • I was willing to get rid of “well-written passages” that didn’t move the story along aforementioned: swiftly and powerfully.
  • I stayed away from melodrama but embraced drama. It connects.
  • Stories are made great by fascinating characters. I spent a lot of time on building and complicating them. And they change with well-thought-out reasons.
  • I allowed the story to have waves, or levels. Strong dialogue sections separate from action sequences. Exposition was simply written, and I worked hard to use the right language to get the ideas out quickly. With as few words possible. Then the story moved along more quickly, too.
  • Find ways to say things without dialogue.
  • Create scenes that have visually stunning–and relevant–actions. Then, they become memorable.
  • The audience is smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. Don’t forget this. We don’t always need to spell everything out. 

Here’s to more great storytelling.

Good luck.

My First Book – What Was I Thinking???

Image

When I first had the gumption to write my first novel, I never thought there would be so much work in the process of getting it off the ground. First, my arrogance that I could write a book. At all. Carrying around a healthy dose of self-confidence (ask anyone) is one thing, but the magnitude of sheer belief I had in embarking on the project was, looking back, quite astounding. Who did I think I was? And incidentally, now, with a couple book signings on the docket, who the hell do I think I am?

Writing The Silent Partner and getting it ready for public consumption has been the hardest task of my life, sans trying to get a re-fi loan for my last house. Truly, getting my bachelor’s degree was a cinch by comparison to writing this book, and that’s not a dig on the Cal State University system. (BTW, a shout out to my old writing professor, Alexis Krasilovsky. I still remember how you wouldn’t take a draft of mine because I was late turning it in . . . and how you said I’d never qualify for an “A” because of it. Oh, the memories.)

The amount of preparation it took me to write this book compared to what I surmise other writers have done–and haven’t needed to do–humbles me. It also calls into question my genetic deficiencies, as this is the first place I look upon such a revelation.

Writing courses, several writers conferences, multiple editors, hundreds of drafts . . . (“Oh, God, if they still hate it after all of this work, I should reconsider the next book’s desire to exist.”) Sleepless nights, lonely nights, overused playlists, an ill-practiced habit of daily designer-coffee, and the prices that go along with it . . . all adds up. (“You mean in the last 5 years I could have gotten not one, but two master’s degrees?”) Well, that’s just GREAT. Seriously, what was I thinking?

That moment I got my first book in the mail from the publisher. That crack of opening the cover for the first time, the chemicals and the paper and the ink and the glue . . . that smell of newness that I whiffed like when I first opened my first Motley Crue cassette (that’s right) in 1983 . . . and the story and characters that I created and evolved and improved and reshaped and reinvented . . . all is there. Every page.

That’s why.

I know, I know. You can’t smell it on the Kindle.