I’m pleased to have Tracy S. Morris as my guest today. A fellow Broad, Tracy is not only a writer but a podcaster. She has photographed two of the Presidents of the United States, taken a hot air balloon ride and met two of her favorite sports legends from separate sports. She’s been a photographer, reporter, writer, fencer, historian, costumer, gardener, a black belt in taekwondo, and a self-confessed kamikaze speller. In 2012 she assumed her most challenging and rewarding role: Mommy. Tracy’s first novel, Tranquility was published in 2005 by Yard Dog Press. It was the runner up for a Darrell Award for Best Midsouth Science Fiction in 2006. Her second novel, Bride of Tranquility was published in 2009. It was a finalist for the Darell Award in 2010. Both books were picked up in eBook format in 2010 by Baen Books. When she’s not writing, Tracy goes by the name Tracy Godsey. She lives with her husband Ryan, daughter Issa Belle and two shiba inu dogs. Ryan is a computer programmer for Tyson foods and administers her blog. The dogs do their best to avoid Issa.
Imagine you dropped yourself in a sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with no map, no compass and the vague notion that you wanted to go to Hawaii.
Do you think you would get there?
As insane as that sounds, that’s how many authors market themselves: by drifting along and hoping for the best. (If you actually plan to do that as a publicity stunt, you need a captain and the knowledge that Hawaii is in the Pacific.) Instead of drifting, you will get a lot farther if you build your brand intentionally.
Let’s start with meeting your public.
When you go to conventions, are you doing something to be memorable? Or are you just another head of hair hiding behind Bookhenge at a panel discussion? Try to craft a look that is uniquely you. Before he was known for his writing, author Jay Lake was that guy who wore Hawaiian shirts at conventions. Just remember to remain professional (let the cosplayers wear the chainmail bikini).
Try to keep something handy with your name and website on it (we’ll get into websites in a moment.) Most people expect a business card. If you want to make sure your information doesn’t wind up in the bottom of a drawer (or worse, a trash can), attach your information to an (inexpensive) item that fans will find useful (like a bookmark, pen or notebook).
In person isn’t the only place to meet your public.
Once, conventions were the best place to meet fans and sell books. But with the explosion of eBooks, fans of your books may never meet you face-to-face. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t engage the fen. Instead, you’ll need to get involved with social media. That means Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and an Amazon author’s page (also a website and blog, but these days the two are often one in the same).
There are good how to articles out there for each of these, so I won’t go into how to use them in depth. I will say that you should spend a little bit of money and have a professional-looking author’s photo taken. This photo can do double duty as your publicity still for conventions, your website and your profile in Facebook and Twitter.
For Facebook and twitter, try to post about more than just your promotions and writing. Let people get to know you a bit (but avoid the temptation to over-share. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t discuss it with your grandmother or your religious leader, don’t put it out there for the world to see). Be transparent. People can tell when you’re being a phony.
Try to think about the name you are putting out there on your website, Facebook and blog. Use the name you are putting on your book cover, not “Superawesomewriter38.” You want to convey that you are a real person, and a real writer.
And lastly, do not feed trolls. Or flame reviewers. If it’s not positive, don’t send it out into the world.