The most common complaint I read over and over again on writer’s discussion boards is “You are such an ASSHO . . .” No wait, that’s the second most common gripe.
“Of course if this were an anonymous on-line writers group I would be MUCH nastier, Earleen.”
The first is “I’ve just self-published my first book–’8 Generations of Vanderslice Women in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’–and am wondering how I can go from being an ‘unknown’ writer to ‘well-known.’”
Fellow writers then jump in with helpful suggestions that don’t work such as “Use social media!” or “Hold a book-signing at a strip mall until you are escorted off the premises” or “Volunteer at church ice cream socials and slip copies of your book into the angel food cake!”
“Okay, now INDENT your paragraph . . .”
The problem with these “helpful” suggestions is that they’re out there on the internet where everyone can see them, and so the same logjam you ran into using older “tried-and-true” methods (“Save a foolscap copy of your manuscript before sending off to Mr. Gutenberg”) is repeated in the “new normal” world of electronic publishing.
“Everybody into the walk-in cooler and nobody gets hurt.”
So how do you raise your profile in the highly-competitive world of writing? Here are a few tips that are guaranteed to get you and your book the attention they need to boost your writing income from the high two figures to the low three figures.
Take hostages. It may sound crazy, but it works. Americans love a hostage crisis, and what’s more important, they become obsessed with the minute details of the lives of hostage takers, such as–ta da!–your book! “Friday morning donut-and-bagel TGIF sessions are surprisingly good,” says book publicist Judith Freeman. “If you hit it just right you totally crush the weekend news cycle.”
“Don’t look now, but here comes Floyd Oehrke with his ‘Bass Fishing Guide to the Stars’ in print-on-demand paperback.”
As you are escorted into a police van three days later after running out of food and water and a reporter shouts “How could you do such a thing?” all you have to say is “Read Under the Aspidistras, my sensitive coming of age novel, and you’ll understand!”
Maori face tattoos: “Face tattoos are a sleeping public relations giant,” says editorial assistant Evan Frame of the Nan Sperling Imprint of Doubletalk Books. “Be sure to get the title of your book right, or else you will run up big cosmetic Wite-Out bills.”
“It’s Maori for ‘bodice-ripper.’”
Abduct a Child: Sounds cruel, but abducting children is a highly-effective way for first-time genre novelists to get attention, say marketing experts. “The nationwide Amber Alert system is the Twitter of tomorrow,” says Les Nutria of the Louisiana State Highway Patrol. “You probably want to start with your own child, or the one that your first wife Tonya claims is yours,” he says. “From there you can move on to toddlers who are ignored by their dads texting on local playgrounds.” Tip from the pros: Change your legal name so that when it scrolls across a highway sign it reads “SEEKING GENE RAY HOUCHENS AUTHOR OF THE ONLY BRUSH HOG REPAIR GUIDE YOU’LL EVER NEED.”
Become famous first: I used to be law partners with a former Governor of Massachusetts, and as it happened our first novels came out at about the same time. His got reviewed in The New York Times and The Boston Globe, mine got reviewed in Sump Pump Monthly and our family Christmas newsletter. As I did a post-mortem on my marketing strategy with my agent, she put her bony patrician finger on the nub of the problem:
“You forgot to become governor first.”