How I’m Celebrating Social Media Week

On Wednesday, February 15, I’ll be participating in “Getting Published & Beyond in the 21st Century,” a panel discussion sponsored by Pubslush Press. The final lineup is still being assembled, but I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with the author Emma Straub and Amanda Pritzker, a senior publicist at Penguin’s Portfolio imprint. (There are some other folks I’m pretty sure are coming, but I don’t want to say anything before it’s official!)

In my previous role as the director of e-marketing strategy at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and in the consulting work I do for authors and publishers today, I’ve encouraged writers to familiarize themselves with the major social media tools and pick the ones that resonate most closely not just with their publicity goals, but with their comfort in being online. I’m not one of those people who thinks you have to be everywhere and do everything to promote yourself successfully online; in fact, I think one of the first and biggest problems many authors face when they try to do their own social media marketing is that they spread themselves too thin too fast. What I was hearing from a lot of authors, though, was that while they were being told that they needed to go out onto the Internet and promote themselves, they weren’t always being given much practical advice on how to go about doing that.

So a big part of my message to the audience at Wix Lounge that evening is going to be that even though social media marketing is a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be a lot of hard work. Ultimately, I don’t believe that you should be out there “selling product” to people. Instead, you want to be yourself—admittedly, a somewhat streamlined version of yourself—and make a connection with the readers to whom your work is most likely to be valuable, whether that’s because of the information you share or the entertainment you provide. And you demonstrate to those people, day in and day out, that you are an interesting person who, from time to time, has a book out they might want to read.

I’m thinking back to a keynote speech I saw YA novelist John Green give in late 2011 at mediabistro.com’s Publishing App Expo. “We did not market anything, ever,” Green said about the video blogs he’s filmed with his brother, Hank, which have accrued more than half a million fans in less than five years. (Maybe closer to a million, depending on the yardstick you’re using to measure Green’s popularity.) “It isn’t like YouTube exists so I can share my books with you.” When he does mention a new book or some other project, he says, “it’s because I’m thinking about it, not because I’m desperate to sell it.”

Okay, I think it’s hyperbolic of Green to say “I’ve never, ever, ever done marketing,” but I see where he’s coming from—I’m just a firm believer in the Seth Godin school of permission marketing, or “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them,” and of the idea that every aspect of your public presence is, in effect, a subtle form of “marketing” yourself to others.

(By the way, if you haven’t read Green’s latest, The Fault in Our Stars, yet, you really should. It’s got one of the best first-person voices I’ve seen in a long time, maybe since Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook, which is a book it reminds me of in other, emotionally resonant ways.)

21 January 2012 | events |

2012’s Author/Blogger Season: Coming Soon!

Ellis Avery at Greenlight Bookstore

After a brief break for the holidays, I’m back making my weekly posts for the USA Network’s Character Approved blog. This week’s post was about The Last Nude, the second novel from Ellis Avery. There’s a grain of historical truth to the story: Tamara de Lempicka really did find a woman named Rafaela in the Bois de Boulogne and recruit her to be a model for several of her paintings, taking her as a lover while she was at it. But Avery has created an entire life for Rafaela, who she imagines as a 17-year-old from New York, who jumped ship and made her way to Paris to escape an arranged marriage with an Italian cousin. At first, her relationship with Tamara opens her up to a world of possibilities, but when greedy art collectors start circling around the sensuous portraits of the young girl, she discovers the limits of Tamara’s affections…

It’s a great read, which is why I’m doubly excited that Ellis Avery will be participating in the first of this year’s “Author/Blogger” events in the series I curate at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore. On Monday, February 20, at 7 p.m., Avery will read from The Last Nude and then discuss the novel and its themes with Miriam Z. Perez, one of the bloggers at Feministing. Perez, a writer and reproductive justice activist based in Brooklyn, is also the founder of RadicalDoula.com, and has received various awards and recognitions for her work, including recognition as a Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging LGBT Voice in Non-Fiction in 2010. So this is sure to be another exciting conversation of the sort that we’ve become accustomed to having at Greenlight, and if you’re in the area I hope you’ll think about joining us.

While I’m on the subject, I’m trying to put together the schedule for the rest of this year’s author/blogger events, so if you’re a book publicist who’s been thinking about sending one of your authors to New York City for a tour appearance between March and, oh, let’s say November, I’d encourage you to put this series on your radar. We generally get a good-sized crowd; we always get a passionate audience. And the folks at Greenlight are a wonderful bookselling crew. You really can’t go wrong sending an author there. So you can get in touch with me, or contact the Greenlight crew—I’m eager to see how the schedule comes together.

Oh, I’m also reaching out to bloggers in the New York City area, too: We’ve had some really great bloggers participate in the series so far, and I know of some other people I would love to bring into the bookstore, but it’s a big city, and I don’t know everyone in it. So if you think you’d enjoy having a 20-minute conversation with an author in front of an audience, get in touch—even better would be if you know of a specific book that’s coming out in 2012 whose author you’d love to ask questions.

11 January 2012 | events |

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