Guys! This story I wrote? It’s out there, published, just waiting for you to pick it up. Go to https://www.fictionmagazines.com/shop/u-t-b/under-the-bed-vol-04-no-11/ and pick it up. My story is in it, along with three other awesome, scary, terrifying horror stories. Do it. Do it now! It’s worth the $3.99.
I’m excited about this release. Excited because it’s in a respectable magazine. Excited to be listed with other talented writers. Excited because it pays money. Excited because I really liked writing the story. Excited by the idea that others will read it and like it too!
I have no delusions about making a ton of money by selling short stories. I’m not trying to live off this compulsion. If I was in it for the money, well, I’d find another line of work. But payment is validation. It’s proof that what I’m doing has worth, regardless of how little or big the payment might be. Getting paid to write also means I’m a “professional,” and that sounds fantastic!
So if I’m not motivated by the almighty dollar, and I’m satisfied with whatever amount comes in, why bother to promote? Isn’t that the publisher's job? I’m a writer for crying out loud! Not a salesman!
There may have been a time when that was the case. Writers wrote. Publishers published. Salesman sold. Everyone stayed in their lane and when a writer finished and shipped their work off to the publish, there was nothing more to do than to return to the dingy poorly-lit attic and typewriter to start hammering out the next piece. I think some writers still believe this to be the case. They think that they can be the stereotypical reclusive author and book sales will take care of themselves. That book sales are none of their business.
I’m here to tell you, those days are gone. Get that idea out of your head. Forget about it. Writing is a business and publishers need writers who can sell books. With that said, I am by no means a professional salesmen or best-selling author. But I’m doing my best. Here’s how I promoted what I’ve written.
My first rule is: Be Accessible. Always have an easy way for readers to find my writing. My primary way of doing that is this website right here. If anyone asks me how they can read something I’ve written, I can verbally tell them, “Go to JoeProsit.com and everything is linked right there.” The newest stuff is linked right at the top. You may have noticed that I also have some stories right here on this site, for free. Again, accessibility and availability.
Here’s another unfortunate reality about the market today: people don’t like to pay for things on the internet. Especially sight unseen. If I’m going to buy a music album, I guarantee you I’ve already heard a song or two on Spotify, Pandora, Youtube, the radio, etc. I get a free sample before I go ahead and pay money. I suspect my readers behave the same way. So, I include “free samples” on my website: a few select short stories that I don’t send out to publishers, that I reserve just for you, dear reader. Now many will buy the issue of Under the Bed Volume 4 featuring Joe Prosit’s short story “A Voice Exhumed” because they’ve read and were entertained by previous issues of Under the Bed. That’s the benefit of getting published. So yes, the publisher does some of the marketing work for you. But publishers are expecting writers to bring that value-added for additional readership. The publishers bring their audience. Writers bring their audience and together more issues are sold. It’s reciprocal. It’s team work.
My second rule is Be Approachable. This is where social media kicks in. I live up in the woods of Minnesota, so I’ve done VERY few public appearances, readings, etc. I’m not against them. I just haven’t had too many opportunities for public appearances. So, social media. Mostly Twitter. I do use Facebook and Google+. Also, this website and blog, message boards, workshops, etc. Now, I see a lot of other writers on these sites, and the biggest mistake I see is for writers not to be human. What I mean by this is the constant and repeated urgings to “Buy my book!” and nothing else. Or the dreaded auto-DM saying the same thing. Do I tweet links so people can buy the latest issue of Under the Bed Volume 4 featuring Joe Prosit’s short story “A Voice Exhumed”? Of course! But I also engage in conversations, make stupid jokes, retweet other writer’s stupid jokes and all in all give my followers a reason to follow me. I blog and try to give other readers something to write. I try to be helpful in writer’s groups. I be a good sport in writing contests. I write blogs to start conversations about how I work my way through the writing process. In short, I try to be human and engaging and interesting and interested.
There’s a balance between being a robot salesman and a human people can interact with. Sure I’ll be accessible and embed links to my work every chance I get. But at the same time, I know I’m selling myself as much as I’m selling a story.
Agree? Disagree? Got some tips and tricks of your own? I’m still new at this so let me know how you promote. Dump your thoughts in the comments below!