Natalie: I gave it my best shot, but I discovered that I’m not a natural blogger. I’ve never been
good at sticking with journals. I remember the pure joy of receiving my first diary. It had a pretty picture on the cover and it came with a tiny padlock and key. I was so excited! I named my diary Taffy. She would be my friend and I’d write in her pages every day! My nine year old self kept up with that pledge for less than a week.
Sadly, my adult self never took to journaling either. So when I read one article after another about how one “must” blog as a part of a successful marketing plan I felt nothing but despair. What would I blog about? I didn’t enjoy reading blogs, let alone writing them. I simply couldn’t see the point of it. I gave it a good try, in fits and starts. My career as a blogger ended the same way poor Taffy did – within a week I had forgotten all about my blog.
Today my blog serves as an announcement board for all the other things I do to promote myself, things I am naturally interested in. And unlike the dismal failure of my blog, the things I’m naturally interested in work! For example, my “Does your pet have what it takes to be in a mystery novel?” pet contest has been popular from day one. The animal photos are wonderful and their stories make me happy. Their human owners are campaigning for their pets by sharing my website on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The winner will be decided by the highest number of votes.
I’m promoting myself by doing what comes naturally to me: bringing people together. I’ve always loved organizing events – anything from a small open house party to a live show involving hundreds of people. Staging interactive events plays to my natural interests and talents, whereas blogging, while it works so well for many people, has never worked well for me. Ironically, ever since I quit blogging I get asked to write guest blog articles for others! This is a good fit for me because it is interactive: someone contacts me to write the article and because I’m a guest, there is usually feedback of some kind. Also, unlike my own blog, there is no commitment to keep doing it.
Other examples of how I promote myself naturally:
– When I couldn’t combine my talents or interests in an obvious way (like painting the book covers) I found other ways to draw upon what comes naturally to me. I gave my fictional characters some of my own interests. This allows me to wrap my interests into the promotion of my books. Even something as simple as a love of flower gardens has opened the door for promotion. I have a Pinterest board for gardening, and now that a garden scene has been written into my latest mystery Covert Coffee, I can promote the novel when I share my flower photos and indoor gardening tips.
– I also enjoy meeting new people, celebrities, and going behind-the-scenes at shows. When I did a recent author interview I told radio talk show host Bob Krejcarek about how I sometimes ask my friends if they would like to be a character in my Serena Wilcox mysteries. Bob volunteered himself (live on air!) to be a fictional character in my next mystery, Bluebird Flown. It was a fun moment, and I’ve already written him into my work in progress. A few weeks later I saw America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Eric Dittelman’s show at my daughter’s college. Afterward, I was able to talk with him for a few minutes and I asked him if he would be willing to be a celebrity character too. He agreed. It’s been an absolute blast writing Bob and Eric into Bluebird Flown.
Cassandra: I use Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter and other social media to promote my work, but I too find that promoting myself
naturally is less stressful, more effective, and even fun.
– I collaborate with my mother (Natalie) on “Dramatic Mom“, a cartoon series written by my mother and drawn by me. My talent for drawing cartoons makes this an enjoyable and natural side project for me to promote my graphic novels. Since “Dramatic Mom” is about our real life family, it’s also a way for fans of my work to get to know me better. Also, working with my mom is a way for us to help each other. Focusing on partnering with someone else can take the focus off of self-promotion.
– I enjoy knitting and crocheting. My first project I used for promoting my graphic novels was a crocheted doll of one of my characters. I set the doll on my display table at a convention to draw attention to my display. Currently I’m creating clothing designs based on the clothing and accessories that my characters wear in my comics.
– I don’t get nervous public speaking, so I am comfortable giving live drawing demonstrations in front of an audience. I can record these demonstrations and maximize their promotional value by sharing them online as well.
Natalie: Working with what you’ve got is a genuine and enjoyable experience, and isn’t that what life is all about?