Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Are You Reinventing the Wheel?

The ancient Egyptians didn't know what the wheel was until they were invaded by another group. They saw the enemy chariots rolling toward them, rolled their eyes and said, “We need to get some of those wheels.” Pretty soon they were tearing up the desert on chariots of their own. The rest, as they say, is history.

When I started using the Internet for book promotion, before I knew what a blog was, everything was a blank slate. I knew the information highway was out there, but I found myself on country roads and making U-Turns. Some authors seem to have the key to the mysterious process. I needed wheels.

In my prior life, I was secretary to an undercover narcotics team. I sleuthed using sites the public doesn't have access to and following leads to locate drug dealers and their hangouts. I got so good at it that I was contacted by a federal agency to find a felon in our area. All they had was a common last name and info that he drove a motorcycle. I told them to go to his grandmother's house in the town just across the county line and he'd be hiding there. No, I won't tell you how I did it. I'm saving that for a future mystery novel.

What I took away from 17 years of law enforcement was an incredible curiosity and ability to track down leads (and many ideas for novels). I translated what I knew to what I needed to know for promoting myself and my career.

My first thought was to use my search engine and find out where authors were posting. It was a “follow the leader” strategy. Next, I discovered that some authors were generous enough to list their favorite sites on the sidelines of their web page. Easy pickings. I checked out all the leads and started my own collection of links that would be useful to my future. Others were doing all the hard work for me and I was hitchhiking along for the ride.

I subscribed to blogs, mostly from experts in the field like Jane Friedman. I followed Twitterific over at Mystery Writing Is Murder. If you don't tweet (and I don't) Elizabeth Craig lists tweet links she finds worthwhile. I also joined discussion groups such as Murder Must Advertise, Short Mystery Fiction Society and DorothyL.

There is an amazing amount of sharing in the writing community. I don't know of any authors who hoard leads and info. So, it surprises me when authors, both new and seasoned, seem confused as to how to connect up. They spin their wheels in search of answers and overlook the road signs in front of them.

While I don't condone being an enabler, it occurred to me that it was time for me to give back. So, I created “The Posse” and simply told new and aspiring authors “I can fast-track your career path if you just take the time to check out the sites I send you to.”

Okay, I wasn't that nice. I'm bossy. I am the Sheriff of the Posse. I check to see if they are doing what I ask, complimenting the ones who get involved in discussions (which helps them build name recognition), scolding those who don't. It's not a site people sign up for, all anyone has to do is contact me and say “I want to be in the Posse.” A friend even came up with badges.


There are those out there, in the spirit of independence or stubbornness, who probably want to do all the work themselves. Maybe, like the Egyptians, they're going to build their pyramid the hard way by sliding stones up an incline. But, there's nothing wrong with hopping on board and riding along with others until you are ready to take the wheel and guide your own career.    

21 comments:

Julie Luek said...

The internet, other writers, and other writing websites can be such great resources. Hooking in, being a friend and a giver as well as benefiting from others is key. Good post, Sunny.

June Shaw said...

Sunny, I want to join the Posse! Great post.

Elaine Faber said...

I have heard from other other sources that the way to success is not to try to promote yourself, but to promote others. Sounds like you're on the right track.

Dac said...

I'm blasted authors on facebook - some of them post their book titles every day. I don't tweet. I look at blogs, even when they aren't interesting. Writers talking with other writers? I try to talk with readers.

And now I wonder - what's coming next? What will be the next big development in communicating and marketing?

Lou Allin said...

I watch those 24 Hours real-life detective shows. The felon is nearly always at his mother's! First place to run.

Great post, and you are so right about supporting other authors by blogging or giving positive reviews. Don't get me started on authors who post BAD reviews of their peers. Grrrr.

Carole Avila said...

As part of Sunny's posse, I can attest that my name has gotten out there and that I have received some of the most valuable advice for authors through the resources she has shared. (Thank you, Sunny!)

Like Dac, I also wonder what is the next big development in online promotion, marketing, and communications. But the thing is, I want to be the first to do it!

Anonymous said...

Sunny, I was just about to send you a note wishing you well - after reading about the troubles... if I cdn't get through to you I was going to send it through oak tree ... but here you are!!! I hope all is/went well for you!!! All best, Thelma in Manhattan

jrlindermuth said...

You may not use every suggestion you get from a group like the Posse (and, yes, I'm a member)but you'll definitely get some you might not find on your own. There's power in group efforts. Thanks, Sunny.

Sunny Frazier said...

Thelma, I made it on the transplant list. They've kept me busy with many more tests and a trip to Portland for evaluation.

Dac, Carole, if you want to know what the next thing will be in marketing and promotion, why not invent it yourself? That's what I've always done. Be the leader, not the follower. I recently wrote a blog on that topic. It was sent to the Posse.

June, you're in. Be prepared to work hard!

Lou, I love those shows and yes, they always seem to run home when there's trouble.

Amy Reade said...

I've been amazed at how generous authors are with information, advice, suggestions, and encouragement at each and every site Sunny has recommended. It's great to get out there and look around to discover sites for myself, but the ones I keep returning to are the ones Sunny has forwarded to the Posse. Thanks, Sunny, for helping us to avoid reinventing our own wheels!
Amy

Lesley Diehl said...

That Sunny. She tells it like it is, and we all benefit. It pays to be generous to other writers. You get paid back time after time. I'm reminded of that everytime someone asks me to do a guest blog or an interview or appear as a speaker for a literary luncheon. Many of those contacts came about because I followed up on Sunny's leads. I try to pay them back by offering them the same.

Liane Spicer said...

What Julie said. I'm often amazed by the generosity of the writing community.

C.L. Swinney said...

I joined the posse and became proficient in promoting right away. People must put out the effort that is needed to be successful. Some believe the "big markets" are key, yet it's costly. Most authors cannot afford this, and we struggle with finding the time to promote, but it must be done.

G. B. Miller said...

I agree about the generosity of the writing community. I picked up a lot of info/advice/tips in the past five yeas that has made a world of difference in my writing.

marja said...

Sunny, starting with you and moving on to the rest of the Posse, I've never met such generous people, both with their time and energy, and knowledge. Thank you!
Marja McGraw

Charles Gramlich said...

I've got a writing friend who is one of those contrarians. Not only will he not take my advice, but he often does exactly the opposite as if to prove that he can make it on his own. It hasn't worked terribly well for him so far.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of this, Sunny! You are inspirational in so many ways!

Congrats on being on the transplant list!

--BrendaW.

Virginia Loer said...

Hear, hear. Thank you Sunny for all the helpful info.

Joyce A. said...

Ditto to the congratulations for being on the transplant list, Sunny, and thank you, thank you for continuing to inspire us Posse members.

Dayton Ward said...

I get a lot of emails asking for writing advice, and I always try to carry forward the good will shown to me when I was just starting out. Giving back, paying forward, whatever you want to call it.

Great article, Sunny. Glad to hear your news about the list.

Sunny Frazier said...

Thank you all for your good wishes on my personal struggle with the failing kidney. It's crossed my mind more than once: Do I want to leave behind yet another novel, or do I want to leave behind the legacy of what I've learned? Give an author a hook and he/she publishes for life. . . .