You’ve written a book. Maybe it’s your first. You slaved over it, making sure every word carried its weight; you nuked every unnecessary adverb and consigned every cliché to the septic tank cemetery. You shed angst like dog hair from a wolfhound as you tweaked and tightened, fiddled and formatted your opus for the grand debut. Decisions about the cover kept you awake nights and/or tainted your dreams with bizarre fonts, taglines that seemed perfect (but weren’t), and illustrations that vacillated from scandalous to soporific.
Somehow, you got through it all. The book’s done. It’s out in the world, waiting to be discovered by an adoring public. Only, the public is busy doing something else. What other conclusions can one draw? You’d understand if what you’ve done amounted to dross, whale dreck, or drivel. But it’s not. It’s good stuff. Maybe even damned good stuff.
So, how does one attract the public’s attention? Short of stalking Oprah and holding her press agent hostage in exchange for an endorsement, what’s a newbie to do? Here are some options often cited as solutions (in no particular order):
- Send press releases to every newspaper, magazine, blog, and online presence you can think of.
- Use the expertise you developed while writing your book as the basis for teaching a class.
- Spend significant sums of money on Amazon ads.
- Spend even larger sums on Facebook ads.
- Spend still larger sums on Google ads.
- Spend your retirement money and your children’s inheritance on a Madison Avenue marketing concern to spread the word for you.
- Do public speaking, at churches, civic and social clubs, scout meetings, union halls, libraries, prisons — anywhere you can find an audience.
- Spend another fortune on books, memberships, and associations which purport to have most, if not all the answers to fame, fortune, and/or a full head of hair.
- Write a blog.
Wait. Whut? Write a blog? That’s a sensational idea, you think. “I’ll just pour out my heart online, and people will recognize my brilliance, my truth, my mot juste.*”
Ah, but there’s a catch. You have to be continually brilliant. Writing a blog is an active definition of “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” If you aren’t blogging something new every single week, your chances of building a readership are slim to non-existent. If you aren’t creating compelling copy on a regular basis, your followers will number in the single digits, and remain there.
So, before you decide to jump into blogging, ask yourself a few questions. If you answer “No” to any of these, you’re likely setting yourself up to dodge angry bees for as long as it takes you to give up. To wit:
- Are you willing to spend the time and energy, every damned week, to produce something worth reading?
- Can you consistently write material that’s good enough to attract new readers?
- Do you have the expertise to actually be believed? (Phonies die off quickly.)
- Can you supplement your opinion content with humor, anecdotes, real-life examples, or something else to keep your material fresh?
Truth be told, sometimes it’s better to just spend the money.
*Mot juste — Precision in word and sentence.