I went to three panels at CONvergence. One was on marketing for writers. I have real doubts about how much effective marketing most writers can do. The panelists talked about making bookmarks and postcards, going to cons, having a blog, being on facebook, taking out ads in trade magazines. These are fairly typical ways to try and increase visibility.
I am acutely uncomfortable about self-promotion. It doesn’t fit my Minnesota idea of the right way to behave. Don’t push in front of your neighbors. Don’t blow your horn.
It was explained to me at Wiscon that self-promotion and marketing are different. Marketing is finding your target market and ways to reach that market. When I heard this, I thought, “Wiscon is my target market: feminist readers of science fiction and fantasy.”
I’m not sure what else I can do, besides going to Wiscon every year. Go to a few other cons. Make friends. Be a decent human being. Believe in people and art and good politics and life.
Back in the 1970s, I set out to become a good panelist, in spite of introversion and stage fright. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. I did it, because I wanted to become more visible in the field, and I wasn’t sure my writing would ever become known. And because there were things I wanted to say about people and art and politics and life.
Anyway, I found the panel a bit depressing. It sounded like the same ideas for self-promotion I’ve heard before, and which do not seem to work especially well to me.
However, publishing is changing rapidly, as we all know; and writers are trying to figure out all the possible ways to use the Internet and e-publishing. Borders is in chapter 11. Barnes & Noble is trying to sell itself. I’m not sure of the future of the brick and mortar chains. Nor am I sure of the future of the big, New York, print-on-paper publishers.
Because the situation is fluid, it seems like a good idea to pay attention.
So I will.