This morning, I attended an author talk at Story Studio on “Shameless Promotion: How to Market Your Writing.” Representing the shameless were Claire Zulkey (author of An Off Year, writer for The Onion A.V. Club and L.A. Times); Johanna Stein (TV writer, essayist of the daringly hilarious and hilariously daring); and James Kennedy (author of The Order of Odd-Fish, friend, and blog usurper). I treated the talk as a kick-off for my day of manuscript-revising. (Operative word: “kick”; as in, “in the ass”; as in, “You’re so close. Get in there, girl!”) But, I also felt it was worth a quick blog.
As a digital marketing biz person (I’m a Copywriter for Critical Mass), I’m always curious to spy the natural intersections of art and communication, affinity and promotion. I’m a nerd; I like this branding stuff. It’s the side of the pool from which I push off regularly, into my personal fiction work.
As they answered questions, the authors’ drastically different backgrounds informed, you guessed it, drastically different answers. They seemed to strive for bite-sized distillations of career advice for their hungry-writer audience – and a theme emerged: I recognized an opportunity, took it, and had fun with it, fueling others’ excitement about my work. With this attitude, the worst-case scenario is you having fun. Not too shabby.
If something fascinates you, pursue it. Claire Zulkey interviewed James Frey pre-memoir scandal, which led to a little call from Anderson Cooper. James Kennedy made an indelible mark with the ALA in a way both silly and relevant, and connected with Odd-Fish fans to curate and cultivate an equally enduring fan-art event. Johanna Stein shied not from human nature, sharing her cringe-worthiest experiences to create some of the most memorable humor available in print.
I like to think of Anne Lamott’s one-inch picture frame from Bird by Bird, which breaks a goal down into more manageable parts. In fact, “branding” is an intimidating, heart-palpitating word. So, forget it. Instead, keep an eye out for fun as you go, in the name of connecting with someone who gets you and your work. Look for relevant opportunities of any size that trigger your fun-meter. If something speaks to you, your genuine excitement will speak to potential friends and fans.
Sassy magazine was right – just be yourself.