The Internet and IRL

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Writers who have had the good fortune to have something published a few times a year invariably look to the Internet for its marketing possibilities. There are several avenues open on the Net for self-promotion, and my experience tells me this:

Facebook/Twitter – with almost a billion active users, you can easily get lost in that billion. Facebook ads? I've found that they draw "Likes" to your advertised writing projects but few readers/buyers.

Websites – same story, more or less. With some half a billion websites out there, you may get lost in the shuffle. The trick here is to link to other websites, blogs, etc. This increases your chances of being noticed in the ever-growing crowd.

Blogs – Ditto. Roughly the same number. Personal blogs will probably grow unnoticed, even with your well-written literary derring-do. Opt to blog in a ready-made community of readers/writers. Again this increases your chances of being noticed.

Whatever your mode, the thing to remember is that in order to attract readers/viewers, don't just talk about your product – let the "Net lurkers" get to know you – your interests, likes and dislikes.

Net surfers these days do so on mobile divices – while at stop lights, on the bus or train, sneaking peeks in class or at work, so get to the point quickly in your posts, and post often. The more posts, the better the odds of developing a noticed "brand."

To me, though, what this means is getting back to IRL (In Real Life). That is, make person-to person contacts: set up readings, talk to book groups, indie bookstores, libraries, shop owners who might carry your books, etc., on consignment. Always leave business cards. Get people's e-mail addresses. Once you have an IRL fan base, the Internet can help you stay connected and – possibly – grow your audience. 


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