Pimping Yourself Electronically?

Ok, what I am going to say will fly in the face of what is currently being taught to writers. I am going to deconstruct shameless self-promotion and say this, it’s not how many people you get to “follow” you in today’s current media, it is about choosing the right contacts, the relevant ones. Otherwise I feel no more validated than the American Idol top 10. Voted there based on the masses regardless of their talent.

The current mantra is, “get on Twitter, such and such became an overnight success because of it”, “Make sure you’re on Facebook”, “blog, blog, blog”. Well, I’m tired of people telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. Ask them, are they published because of just Twitter and nothing else? You’d be surprised how many people say no. They got published because of hard work. A dedication to the craft, to write the absolute best story they can write and then improving it.

Twitter? Ok, if that’s your bag. It’s not mine and I doubt will ever be.

Facebook? If you have the time, it’s a great promotion tool but don’t overdo it otherwise you’ll end up with more people hiding your constant remarks or worse case unfriending or un-liking you. Be very careful. It’s all about how you are perceived. Constantly harping may be a sign of weak writing.

Blogging? Now here is where I struggle the most. I agree that for an author having a public place where everyone can find you is a very important thing. On the flip side, the idea that I have to find as many like-minded blogs and follow them and comment on them is time consuming. Quite often the rewards don’t justify the labour. Follow who you like, and by all means write. A blog today is like an electronic journal, and journaling is never a bad thing.

I’ve always been of the mind that I will let my work speak for me. The best and most profitable companies are the ones that advertise by word of mouth not splashy Yellow Pages Ads. I want to apply that logic to my writing. Let’s face it, anybody, regardless of skill level, can advertize.

Writing, like singing and dancing and art and figure skating, is hostage to subjective judging. There is no yardstick like there is in sports. No clear cut winner or loser. Every person is different and what may appeal to one, may not appeal to others. Now when I said there is no yardstick to measure the craft, that’s not exactly true, there are basics.  Writing is like baking, it all starts with the same basic ingredients. The genre comes when the spices and fruits and or sweeteners are added. The added spices make your work your own. The basics ensure that someone out there will like your work.

I find more and more of my time is being wasted with electronically pimping myself out. Time I could better spent on research, editing, and above all, writing. I guess it is like anything, moderation is the key. Take what you need from advice and apply it. Like using a carrot, some people will use the whole thing, greens and all, while others find more use from the peeled and pared carrot, discarding the excess. Not because it is worthless or bad, but simply because it doesn’t apply.

There are supposed experts everywhere. They will tell you, you have to do this, or you can’t do that. I say they are full of… well, lets just say let them apply it to their own work because mine is not the same.

Ultimately, we all have our own voice. There is no real right or wrong way to do something. If the end result works, then does it really matter how you got there? Just embrace it and try, like I do, to figure out what you did right.

Let intuition guide your pen. Let your imagination kick up all kinds of dust, not all of it will stick, but from that dust will arise, like a phoenix, an idea and just write. Let conventional thinking sit on the guidelines and watch. Worry about where it will fit later, write for the love of it, the exhilaration of romping in the skin of your characters, of painting new landscapes. Once you are done, only then start thinking about where it will fit and don’t try to force it into a form, make your own.

Twitter if you like, Facebook for a break, blog your process or just for fun, but write first and foremost. If the story is strong the rest will take care of itself.

But then I’m still finding my way and that’s just my two cents. Throw your pennies in, I’d like to know what you think. What works for you and what didn’t live up to expectations?

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About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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19 Responses to Pimping Yourself Electronically?

  1. Ruth Walker says:

    “Pimping” yourself is not what promotion should be. A big part of a successful promotion involves the whole of you presented to the public in ways that work for you…and as importantly, works for them – the public. I don’t use Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn specifically to bleat endlessly about me. I see all of my social media platforms as conversations. Sometimes, the conversation is about me but most of the time, the conversation is about others — most often, other writers — or about aspects of the business — agents or publishers — or about stuff that I think is cool and think others may too.

    When a writer approaches social media as “The Road To Publication”, it all ceases to be about relationships and learning, and becomes an onerous task. Dale, you can stop listening to all the “you musts” and relax. Your blog is your conversation at the moment. Maybe you’ll find Twitter to be more useful later on but right now, you are more focused on developing the craft and connecting with others via Inkstroke’s Blog and Facebook. But don’t close the door to all the rest. Drop in from time to time to Twitter etc., and listen in on what others are talking about. Writers need to relax a bit and play around a bit to discover what social media works for them and decide at what point they need to get a bit serious about it all.

    And as to promotion, some conversations will lead to connections that will lead to book sales. And some conversations will help you discover ways that you can promote your work. And some conversations are simply a whole lotta silly fun. I love a surprise. And I find plenty of those on Twitter and Facebook and on some darn good blogs. Like this one!

    Cheers and write on, Dale.

    • Dale Long says:

      Thank-you Ruth.
      You are so right, we need to relax and do what we need to do. I guess I got a bit of a bee in my bonnett lately. Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Blogging. 7.5 from the Russian judge and 9.5 from the rest. Overwhelmed and frustrated, but happy with my work thanks to teachers like you, Dorothea, Sue and James.
      I may try Twitter someday, but right now, I have a number of blogs I really like that I feel guilty for not commenting on enough.

  2. mom&dad says:

    we raised a pretty smart kid—— horray forn us!!!!!!

  3. You’re absolutely right, Dale. The writing HAS to come first. If you aren’t producing, then you’re nothing more than a Paris Hilton type – known for your great self-promotion and not your honest-to-goodness work. People have wondered whether blogging takes away from my real writing. Surprisingly, not. In fact the opposite seems to be true for me. When you tell people you’re going on a diet, they’ll start looking at your butt to see if it’s getting smaller. In telling the world I’m working on a novel, I feel I owe it to them and of course, to myself, to keep working on said novel.
    Yeah, what the heck is it with this Twitter thing!

    • Dale Long says:

      I actually like my blog but find it a struggle sometimes because I worry I’m not appealing to the whole market and not just other writers. I should blog more but surprisingly I have a fliter that stops some of my more… shall we say, passionate posts. My wife call them rants.
      Potatoe, Potahtoe. 😉
      Great analogy with the diet! I may have to steal that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well said Dale. I think you have grasped to concept of trully being an artist. Perception is key and when you are pleased with your work others will follow; no matter what form you use.

    • Dale Long says:

      Thank-you Anony!
      I am slowly grasping the whole artist thing. I still have “ah ha” moments and hope I never lose them. Once I stop being amazed, time to try something else.

  5. You are so right, Dale. Writers are constantly bombarded with suggestions, nay commands, about how to be successful and I have struggled with exactly this conundrum. Build a profile at the expense of your writing time or write voraciously but nobody knows who you are. One of my favorite sayings comes to mind as the mantra we might follow: moderation in all things.
    BTW I loved your cooking analogies. Are you, perhaps, creative in the kitchen as well as at the computer?

    • Dale Long says:

      Thanks Elaine! That’s exactly it. People telling us instead of guiding us.

      I dabble, occasionally. The BBQ is my instrument of choice. Real BBQ not the outdoor propane stoves, but that is a rant for another time…;)

  6. Lisa Llamrei says:

    I have not found that either Facebook or Twitter has increased my blog readership one iota. It’s still just my writing friends and colleagues who comment. And that’s after more than a year. As for reading other blogs and commenting – I’m with you. Who has the time??

    I really think social media marketing is great for someone who has the time to invest in it and make it work. However, that is not most writers. It’s challenging enough to find the time to write when you’re raising children and holding down a day job, darn near impossible to add marketing in there as well. If you have to make a choice, then of course you have to choose writing – otherwise, marketing becomes irrelevant.

    • Dale Long says:

      “Write it and they will read. Write it well and they will follow.”

      I agree totally. Does Facebook increase blog followers? The jury is out. For some it does, for others not so much. Take The Author’s Voice, for example. The one thing I do promote not because of my writing or my exposure, but to showcase local talent and yet how much traffic is generated by the community it caters to? 5-10%. Now that could be indicative of how many members are actually on Facebook… 😉

      And you are a writer they should follow.

  7. Dale Long says:

    Thanks everybody. Believe it or not, I was actually worried about posting this. Of all the things I rant about, this is the one I stumbled over and my wife didn’t. Normally it is the other way around. She’s my filter.

  8. I too am beginning to see more value in the WHO you know vs. HOW MANY you “know”. I have a few online peeps I like to chat with / read their stuff / etc. The rest are so random, the cost-benefit equation can’t be that beneficial.

    I would rather seek out my potential readers. That said, there is some broadcast marketing involved, but the more targeted it is, the better.

    • Dale Long says:

      I think there is a marked difference between keeping your readers informed and entertained and Twittering.
      i tend to use Facebook to keep family up to date and keeping my writing community the same. I blog to keep writing. If I’m writing, readers will find me, much the same way I found your blog.
      Target marketing… I like that.

  9. Nate Shenk says:

    When I finally gave it and got a Twitter, I was so excited at all the new ‘followers’ I was getting. I started out following everyone back and then I started getting SEO “experts” and other spammers invading my Twitter feed. Now I don’t follow everyone back because many of them are NOT at all interested in reading anything and I’ve come to being more annoyed at Twitter. Self-promotion sucks…I LOVED this post. When I first saw the title I was extremely curious as to what it was about, but it all made perfect sense 🙂 Great post.

    • Dale Long says:

      Thanks Nate.
      I’m not saying I’ll never Twitter, but right now I think I’ll pass. There are too many good blogs to keep up on and I absolutely abhor text talk.
      Smiley faces, on the other hand… 😉

  10. Diane Dooley says:

    I’m a pimp. I don’t enjoy it much, but I have to publicize myself. It’s in my publishing contracts that I will actively promote my work. I try to make it fun and entertaining for people, but I’d much rather be writing. It’s part of the biz these days. I just try not to be obnoxious about it.

    • Dale Long says:

      And you aren’t.
      It’s like everything else, there is a fine line and walking it can be exhausting.
      What other industry can you have middle men and yet still have to do all the work? Oh, yeah, unions… 😉
      Keep pimping Diane!

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