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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Word Of Mouth

I am feeling virtuous today. I've been ticking off all the items on my punch list this morning and even added a couple. The Tankster was especially happy I added "take dog for walk".

I've been spoiling him something awful since Chelly's been gone. I have to confess I've been fighting a severe case of depression. That isn't like me. Hardly anything gets me down, but losing Chelly has been particularly hard on me.

I can't figure out if it's because I was alone with her when she died or if it's because I felt every second of her life force slip away. I've been with lots of animals in their last moments. But this one took on a surreal effect. And I still feel it, constantly reliving those last few hours.

If nothing else, Tank has benefitted from my grief. That is one spoiled boy. This morning we went garage saling, got breakfast at our favorite kolache bakery and then went for a long walk in a park we had all to ourselves. It was a good morning.

Now it's back to work for me while he goes and takes yet another nap. Lucky dog!

Last night I sat in on a chat for self-promotion. I was glad it was a small group. It's hard for me to keep up when there are a lot of people on line.

I have a chat of my own coming up in August. I don't know what possessed me to sign on. I'm kind of wondering if I should give that spot to someone else. Chat rooms are confusing places to me. Everyone seems to "talk" at once, answering or asking different questions so that you don't know who's responding to who. I might wait until the book's release to see if a chat would be beneficial.

I'm far more excited about KS Augustin's podcast interview. Podcasts are the latest hot thing in communication. The last one Kaz delivered had excellent audio quality, but I've heard a couple (from a pretty big site) that were so hard to listen to I had to stop the recording. I don't know why the quality was so poor, but I wouldn't feel comfortable appearing there. I think a bad production (even through no fault of your own) is still a reflection on the interviewee.

But back to my main point. I think the thing I got out of the chat was that you have to think outside the box. It's important not to talk about your book or yourself, but rather talk about what is of value to your readers.

It resonated with me on a personal level because I feel strongly about giving back whenever I can. This is why I post markets and industry news on a regular basis. I know people appreciate it and as I find the information it's only good neighborliness to pass it on.

I got to thinking how TOUCH OF FIRE would be of value to readers. It would appeal to people who love fantasy and magic. But it also has a subtle vein of sci-fi in it too. And of course, there's the romance.

So how do I demonstrate that value? The chat group hummed with ideas. If you want to be visible to your readers, you have to go where they are. For example, if you wrote medieval historicals, you might find a welcome haven at renaissance fairs. If you wrote ghost stories, you could invite people to share their real-life ghost stories on your website. Interaction is critical. You want people to talk about you.

Romance has lots of venues. In 2007, romance sold more than ONE BILLION dollars in revenue. ($1.37 billion to be exact.) That is a huge fan base. My challenge is to find that niche group who reads not only romance, but SFF. I can find that group at several of the big SFF conferences held every year.

But where else do geeks and fantasists gather? Since TOUCH OF FIRE deals with Elementals, I wondered if Wiccan organizations might be favorable to a new take on an old idea. I can expand on that and approach what in my day we used to call "head" shops, places where they sell everything from incense to rub-on tattoos.

Religion, a common theme in my stories also plays predominately in ToF. It doesn't focus on modern-day traditional religion, but rather looks forward at how religion might evolve over hundreds of years after an apocalypse. Would Christian bookstores consider such a book? It opens up the possibilities.

Has anyone tried to brainstorm where else their books might be appreciated?

The promotion trail is saturated with interviews, book reviews and blogs--all good vehicles. But what I'm looking for is something off the beaten path, somewhere where people aren't expecting a writer or a book. --And most importantly, somewhere where people talk about you amongst themselves. Word of mouth is still the best promotion there is.


Kaz Augustin said...

Thanks for the call out, M! I have to say, I was wondering about the first Harlequin "Meet the Editors" podcast. The quality was, um, uneven, and I wondered if anyone had listened to it before posting. They did much better on the second one.

Not that I can talk. Me, I'm on a learning curve as well, but hope the podcasts will get better as the months roll on. We should be right for June, which is when you're on! ;)

I like live chats. They have that kinda chaotic, spontaneous feel to them that's quite different, although they are rather difficult. It's easy for the page to scroll past the point you wanted to make in the first place; it's difficult to include excerpts, even though attendees really like them; you can't catch up on what's been said if you come in late; it's hell if you can't touch-type! But if there's a group of you, then as a touch-point for readers, I think they can be fun.

Let me know when/if you decide on the chat and I'll try and make it.

Maria Zannini said...

Chat scare me. LOL! But I'll let you know if I go through with it.