Marketing for Introverts & Other People

print.booksAre you an introvert? Many writers are. I know I am. Therefore I’ve made a list of easy things shy writers can do to help sell their work. As I said in yesterday’s post, if  you publish, you need to market as well. So here’s what you can do to improve your visibility as a writer:

1. Join a writer’s group. I did. It’s easy. Go to meetings and listen. I became a member of Detroit Working Writers several years ago and the organization continues to inspire me. DWW started with a dozen women in 1900. We’re still going strong. You don’t have to be published to join.

2. Go to a conference. The workshop leaders and keynote speaker do almost all of the talking. They bring you news from the world of publishing. DWW’s annual conference this year is May 17, 2014 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library. You can sign up early and get a discount.

3. Enter a writing competition. At our conference, we conclude by announcing the winners of our writing competition. First prize in all five categories is $100, so check it out. You do not have to attend the conference to enter the writing competition, but it would be fun, right?

4. Start a blog and begin to build your platform. If you don’t know what a platform is, you can ask anybody in DWW. Seasoned writers are available to mentor beginners. And blogging, heck, you do this alone in your writing room. What could be easier? I love Word Press but Blogger is also user-friendly.

If you do these four things for your writing self, you will succeed. When I joined DWW several years ago, I had self-published one book, a non-fiction writer’s manual. Since becoming a member of DWW and joining in some of the many networking and critique groups they offer, I’ve published four novels. Proof, to me at least, of the value of stepping out of the shy box.

 

Being a Chair

As in chairperson. I’m doing that for DWW‘s Spring Readings this year. I’ve never headed a committee before, so it’s a good experience. Nothing about it is really difficult or inscrutable–well, except sending press releases– but just like so many things, it takes time.

Time is not something I have my hands full of lately. I am keeping up with work, but that’s because I’m working so many hours. I’m kind of a perfectionist about my courses. I am not a teacher who comes into class unprepared and just goes with the flow. I always have a plan. These days I always have four plans.

So…the chairperson title is nice, and I was happy to volunteer, but I’m cramming it in with so many other things that I might not be doing as excellent a job as I thought I could. In that way, it’s like writing. What’s in my head when I say “yes” to a project is not what ends up on the page OR the stage.

In a Good Way

It’s only 9 a.m. and I’m already feeling really tired. Had a long meeting with DWW folks yesterday. Started at 2 and didn’t end until about 6. The meetings I have attended before were only about 2 hours. But I liked this one better, maybe because I am more familiar with everyone, so I felt like I could speak up about things.

(Worry not, I didn’t talk for hours, and was not the soul reason the meeting ran later than usual!)

& I’m heading a committee with DWW, handling the annual Spring Reading competition. So therefore I had questions and comments to make. The competiton is a nice thing DWW does for its members. There are cash prizes and an outside judge. I have someone in mind already for that.  Lots to do to make sure it all works out as planned. Actually, I have a lot of planning to still do, although the last person to chair this event did give me all her notes and documents, which will help tons.

I think part of my “tired” is carried over from yesterday. It takes a lot out of me to be social and businesslike all at once with a bunch of writers I don’t really know all that well. But I’m getting to know them better, and that’s a true relief.

The other things I did this morning, well, sticking to my word, I got out the WIP, read over and revised (again) the first three scenes then wrote a few scenes more. I realized immediately why I put off continuing the story. Chapter 4 is a hard one emotionally for my main character. Heartbreaking, actually. I didn’t want to go there, so as usual, I postponed the pain for a while. Worked through it today and the rest of the chapter only gets lighter, so that’s good news.

But again, emotionally draining.

Then I had to upload and send the interviews and photos to Nina at BBC, pretty much finishing out my assignment for them.

Then there was an ongoing problem with my composition class to deal with. I cleaned up most of the mess over the weekend, but there were still some residual wrinkles to smooth out. That won’t stop until I get to class tomorrow.

Anyway, it’s been a full morning, exhausting in a good way. In need of a break. Am reading an excellent book right now, so the plan is to sit with a cup of tea and read for an hour or so before heading out to yoga class.

After Glow

I am so relaxed right now. The calming effects of the writer’s retreat I attended yesterday are still with me. We writers spent the warm, sunny day under a flower-covered pergola, looking out on gently rolling hills and fields of lavender. I think it was breathing that lavender all day that has made me feel so peaceful today. There’s something healing about lavender, and also about keeping company with people who share a passion.

We spent our five hours together feasting on wonderful food and drink, exchanging writing stories, swapping “must read” novels, and reading a bit of our work out loud to each other. 

Most of my meetings so far with DWW have been more formal, in business settings, where we plan future activities. I’ve also participated in a few events hosted by group members. While both of those kinds of get-togethers have been beneficial to me as a writer, they were not intended to be social. 

Yesterday’s event was a chance for me (and another new member) to truly join in this circle of old friends. We got some inside stories of their history together (including some juicy bits about many of the famous writers who were keynote speakers at past events) and they got an opportunity to know us better as well as reconnect with each other.

It was a beautiful thing. Most of these women have been together for a long time. Many of them are journalists who are now branching into writing fiction. It’s funny because lately I’ve noticed the opposite has been happening to me. I spent most of my writing years pursuing the publication of fiction and am only now turning to non-fiction. It sort of happened when I wasn’t paying attention. The blog. The book reviews. The magazine features. My book.

Also, my most special current writing project, the one I’m most excited about these days, is non-fiction. I really don’t know what is up with that. Normally I’d be fretting that my love of fiction writing has deserted me forever, but I’m too blissed out in the afterglow of the retreat.

DWW

Am happily busy reading for a review due soon but had to post amid all the holiday hoopla that I have been accepted into membership with DWW, the organization of Detroit writers that’s been around since 1900! Things unfolded like a perfect dream…

First the phone call giving me the good news. Then the invitation if I was available to come to a meeting they happened to be holding five minutes from my house (this convenient location happens maybe once a year, as they meet in many far-flung cities). Usually, I teach Thursdays, but had this one off. And nothing planned except laundry. So I said sure, I’ll be there.

Once I got to the house, they gave me lunch and a gift: their anthology, with 100 years of writings. Fascinating to see some of the works of the original charter members, of which there were 11. There are now 55 of us, including Joyce Carol Oates! She wasn’t at the meeting, but a group of dynamic, inspring women writers were, and we talked shop for hours that seemed like minutes.

This group has a lot of stuff going on. They hold conferences and retreats and get involved in all kinds of side projects like how to build a website and on and on. My head was spinning when I left, but in a good way. Thanks to DWW, I also now have an official “next step” for my book. I have not been a good marketer. I meant the book to be for my students, but by the time it came out and I used it for a few classes, I decided to take a break from teaching. Which left me with a lot of books in the closet.

Enter DWW. They’ve invited me to join with other authors at a “book tent” event at a spring festival that combines gardening and the arts! It’s like this all happened at the exact right time. I’ve been wondering what the hell the next step was going to be. So here it is. Right on time.