I was just thinking over the weekend about how my DH and I met. (It's a funny little story which I've shared here before so I won't bore you with it again.) But I'm also on Facebook and always wondering what to put on my wall that might be entertaining. So for a lark I typed:
Met my DH in college chorus. We were Gleeks before it was cool. Where did you meet your sweetie?
In short order I had 15 comments, little vignettes of those super-charged, hormone-rich days of first love.
The immediate and accidental success of those 3 sentences in eliciting a response made me think about marketing.
I never took any marketing classes in college--too busy being a total "gleek"--so when I sold my first book and was told I'd need to promote it, I was adrift. I had no idea where to begin. Still don't. I have no clue when something I fling into cyber-space will get a response or when it will hit the firewalls of readers' psyches with a resounding thud. But I know running around shouting BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK is annoying and counterproductive.
So I thought back to my days of gleekdom, when the first rule of performance was: Connect with the audience.
When you're singing, this means making eye contact and letting the lyrics show on your face. When I'm in cyberspace, all I have are words, but the goal is the same. Making the connection.
We're human. We're readers. Our life experiences may be wildly different, but we all love, hurt, exult, suffer. Finding common ground isn't that hard.
The second rule of performing was: Be genuine.
It must be real. There is arguably no artistic merit in the "Pants on the Ground" song which has recently gone viral, but the fellow who created and performed it did so with complete conviction. We respond to real.
If you remember Eddie Haskell, you know we all hate phonies. Everyone has unique gifts (hence the premise for my What kind of Genius are YOU? Quiz). Don't try to fake someone else's style. Use yours. If that happens to be a slightly shy, midwestern personality with a sense of humor only the DH gets all the time, so be it.
Turn a weakness into a strength.
I had a really good ear as a kid. My auditory memory was fantastic. At each piano lesson, I'd ask my teacher to play through the piece for me so I could hear how it was supposed to sound. Then I remembered the rhythmic patterns. As a result, my piano teacher never realized that I couldn't read rhythm worth shooting. Once I got to college as a music major, my deficiency was pretty glaring, but I was too embarrassed to admit how bad I was at timing. So I taught myself, painfully and privately, to read rhythm. Now, it's one of my strengths.
When I started blogging, I was terrified by the idea of recording my thoughts online for all time. Then I realized it's not about just my ramblings. If I do it right, I get to hear what my readers think too! I've made friends with people all over the globe through this blog. Blogging with you has become one of the best perks of being published.
And lastly: Leave it all on the stage.
Don't hold back. Don't mark (sing with half a voice). Give the audience everything you've got every single time. Do your best.
All the clever marketing in the world won't save a mediocre book. My goal is to deliver the best story I can with each book I write. It may not be Shakespeare, but it's from my heart. And every time I turn in a manuscript, I want to feel that it's the best thing I've ever written. Ultimately, the writing is the only thing I can control in this business.
So now it's your turn. If you're a reader, what's the most annoying thing an author has ever done to try to catch your attention? (Please share so we can keep from doing it again!) If you're a writer, what's the most effective marketing strategy you ever used?
Or if you like, please share how you and your sweetie met? I'm all ears!