Thursday, September 6, 2007

If I Could Take Back One Weird Thing I've Said...I probably wouldn't.

Maven Lacey KayeFirst, Don't miss tomorrow's guest blogger!

Sheila English from Circle of Seven productions, the company who began the book trailerTM phenomenon, will be here to answer all your burning questions, from when you should (and shouldn't!) consider a video commercial for your stories to what kind of results should you expect from your investment.

Now, onto the show!

Over the past two weeks, we've been talking about the many ways you can promote yourself and your books. Yesterday, Maven Darcy talked about promoting yourself to others and sounding confident while you do it. I admit, I am not that great about either promoting myself or my friends in conversation. (Pause to let you digest the fact that I may actually be bad at something.) But it's true...Maven Darcy nailed my startled Whhwhawhaat? after the Rose City Luncheon perfectly. You mean we can promote each other?

Lucky for me (and all you people like me), there's the internet. I'm not nearly as shy about promoting my writing on the internet (if you're reading this, it must be because you want to, right?) and I'm certainly not as shy about promoting my friends. So. It seems to me, internet promotion is where it's at. Your readers are active, they're interested, and they're just a few mouse clicks away from buying my product. What's not to love?

But how do I get you people to promote me by word of mouth? Well, I can try to be a sneaky ninja. I can email Maven Erica and beg, for example. But what we all really want is to have more of are those lovely times when we Google our own names and find really nice comments about ourselves (or better yet, our books) on other people's sites. (And by that I did not mean to imply Maven Erica and I are the same person. You get what I mean.)

Obviously, if I knew some trick to creating positive word of mouth I would have done it already. This site would have thousands of millions of hits and I would be world-famous. At the very least, I would be in a completely different industry. Unfortunately, my suggestion that you "just stand out from the crowd" doesn't make the cut for startling advice. I can only tell you what works for me in real life, and that is to act totally bonkers and hope people get the joke.

Which is sort of the problem and the solution at the same time. I think, and I'm no professional here, most people aren't willing to put themselves out there with controversial subject matter. Let's talk about two seemingly different but totally similar things: Anna Campbell's Claiming the Courtesan and Napoleon Dynamite.

Did that get your attention, Anna?

Both had that "Oh, no she didn't!" factor, right? With CTC, nobody could believe Anna would (allegedly) try to bring back the 80's romance novel. With Napoleon Dynamite... Need I say more? But if I do, let me tell you... Yet another very special 80's throwback. (Okay, that was just a really weird coincidence. What I meant to point out is that the story is just so freakin' weird, it's hard to believe anyone ever thought it up, let alone made it into a successful movie. A really, really successful movie.)

Both were successful because, I think, they each have enough elements in them that the entertainee could identify with what was going on. But at the same time, the entertainee is glued to the story because they just can't believe anyone would ever actually write something that sounds a lot like the weird crap that goes through their head on a day to day basis -- stuff that they would never, ever admit to. (Ok, maybe less likely with CTC, but I think you get me here.)

My point is, when you're watching Superbad, 40 Year Old Virgin, or Knocked Up, you're identifying with the storyline, but at the same time, you can't believe someone had the nerve (or the creativity) to write that story in the first place.* Which is why you walk out of the theater (or put down the book) and immediately start looking for people to talk about it with. Often, I might add, in slightly negative tones. But hey, the writer's the one laughing all the way to the bank, right?

So take that gem, make it your own, and let the people talk about you just a little bit. Sure, you may have the occassional weirdo walk up to you and repeat something back to you that will make you cringe wondering why you let that tidbit fall out of your mouth in the first place. Er, fingers. It's human nature to want to fit in with the crowd. But chances are, you'll have 10 more people laughing their hineys off because you did. (Or crying into their hankies, or whatever.)

Be weird. It's different.

Tell me something you've said or done that made you cringe at your own bravado/stupidity/hilarity/craziness, and then tell me about the person who came up to you and said hey, that was funny!/sad!/cringe-worthy!/you almost made me pee my pants!

Don't leave me out here on a limb, guys...

* If you click on the Knocked Up link (or Google this subject at all) you will find that, in fact, someone else DID write that storyline before. Two someones. But that totally takes away from the fun point of this blog, so I choose to ignore it. Sorry, Rebecca Eckler and Patricia Pearson.


B.E. Sanderson said...

I do bizarre things on a regular basis, but most people don't say anything to me about it. (Although walking through the airport singing did get me some looks.)

I must have a thing about being crazy in large places. I whistle pop songs in the grocery store, talk in strange accents at the Walmart, goof around in malls. Maybe it's because I'm just a face in the crowd - anonymous. *shrug*

lacey kaye said...

I bet you make people smile :-)

Anonymous said...

Like B.E., I have no filter. I pretty much do and say whatever occurs to me. Sometimes to good effect, sometimes... not.

On someone else's blog, I recently used the phrase "soft as an un-turgid manroot."

She promptly responded to my blog with, "You're slightly nuts and you make me laugh."

So there you go. Like Maven Lacey says, it's okay to be weird. Weird is creative. Weird is memorable. Weird is fun!

Jackie Barbosa said...

I refuse to tell any stories on myself because then you'll know where I get all my writing ideas from :). (Only half-kidding!)

Terri Osburn said...

I used to be on the radio and since I rarely thought ahead of time what I was going to say, some strange things would emerge. I said the phrase "Save a horse ride a cowboy" years before that song came out. (Yes, I worked in country radio) One day when I seemed to be messing up all morning I finally said, "I'm not a ditz, I just play one on the radio."

I like to make people laugh and am lucky that it often comes easy but like someone said, that's easier when you're anonymous. When everyone in that little town knew who I was, I had to be more careful of the things I would talk about or even do while out in public. So perhaps when you're less anonymous, being out there is a bit more difficult.

For instance - once you're a successful and well-known author, can you get away with wearing a large swan hat in public? LOL! Not always.

Darcy Burke said...

I'm more reserved than I was in my youth, say college. I used to be an actor, so I was very comfortable with being the center of attention and saying/doing obnoxious (yes, obnoxious!) things. That said, I can't think of a single example this morning (and I've been thinking on it over night too). Huh. When did I get boring?

B.E. Sanderson said...

LOL I used to have a filter. I found out they're pretty unnecessary when you're a hermit. Maybe someday when I'm a best-selling author, someone will come up and say "Hey, aren't you that weird chick I saw dancing through the frozen foods?"

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens