Saturday, January 24, 2015
Thursday, January 8, 2015
We've all been the new kid at some point in our lives or careers. Being guided through the cafeteria line by an expert who then sat next to us was either a reality or a deep wish. Either way, experiencing the need for guidance made us both humble and sensitive. Humble because not having the answers made us insecure, and sensitive because we became aware that others may need our help.
Most writers have someone they can turn to for advice on their writing content, but when it comes to promoting their work, they have no one to turn to. The lack of guidance can leave a new writer feeling like they're holding their lunch tray all alone in a room filled with communities of engaged and purposeful people. They see other writers with active social media or in person events, and wonder what the secret was to getting there.
I can't speak for everyone, but I'll speak for many. The folks who have a presence in the digital world, or have fans in the physical one, had a mentor.
men·tor (ˈmenˌtôr,ˈmenˌtər)someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.
A mentor who knows you and knows your work can help make sense of a dizzying array of choices. I emphasize the knows you part. A simple Google search on book promotion brought up 346,000,000 hits. There is no shortage of advice or services to help promote. They key is finding what works for you. A mentor who understands your strengths, personal comfort zones, and goals can guide you to the right strategy for effective promotion. This is true no matter what career you are in.
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to have been asked by a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association in Boston to be a mentor for young women in science. The women I mentored were mostly young PhD's working in research and development. I may have known little about their scientific questions, but I knew a lot about office politics and positioning for promotion. My twenty-plus years of experience in male dominated fields of law and finance helped to shape and inform my advice to them, but the key to helping was knowing them. We met at least once per month and traded phone calls and emails frequently. By learning who was comfortable with confrontation, or who ran for the hills at the slightest furrowed brow, helped me tailor my advice. Each month, a very specific task was given. A task may have been having lunch with someone who has the job you want next. Small steps helped build success and having a mentor made the mentee accountable.
I became a good mentor because I knew the need. I never had a mentor early in my career and I really could have used one!
A mentor can be anyone you trust who has enjoyed a level of success in an area you aspire to. But don't think you have to be either a mentor or a mentee. When it comes to author to reader marketing, one size does not fit all. I'm constantly being exposed to best practices and learning tricks of the promotional arts. What may not have worked last year, might be perfect now.
To find a mentor:
- Look within your writer's group for someone who has done something you'd like to do. Ask how they did it and would they guide you through the process.
- Organizations, like HBA mentioned above, have formal mentoring programs. If not yet writing full time, find out if your "day job" industry has such a program. The insights gleaned from working closely with someone who gets to know your strengths can be applied to your writing promotion.
- Reach out on social media and begin a relationship with someone you admire. Most authors are approachable and will be happy to provide guidance even if not in a 'formal' mentoring relationship.
It's the dynamic of always allowing yourself to learn and adapt that makes for the most effective marketing for you.
More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.
Friday, January 2, 2015
The best stories leave readers feeling like they have lived inside the pages of a book. When the setting is realistic, readers of fiction are taken deeper into the characters' lives and suspend their beliefs long enough for the writers to weave their tales. Readers of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, are rewarded with many blogs on locations featured in the book and film locales. Lovers of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer flock to Forks and La Push, Washington and visit towns of the Quileute tribe. Readers love being surrounded by the physical world their beloved characters inhabited. It extends their enjoyment of the stories and writers love active and engaged fans.
I've heard from readers who feel as if they have walked in my main character's shoes. I've decided to take things one step more...pun somewhat intended. Now I'm offering a reward to do exactly that.
For you muggles out there, listen up. Geocaching combines hiking with treasure hunts. Geocachers hide boxes in different locations accessible by the public. Over two million people worldwide enjoy searching for caches that can be as big as an ammunition box or as small as a pill vile. Once a cache is found, a log is signed and a small item may traded. A twist on the typical seek and find is a travel bug. These 'bugs' are trackable objects that geocachers move from cache to cache. The best bugs have a purpose, like trying to get to China or finding the best dog parks in the U.S.
On New Year's day 2015, I placed a travel bug named "Jessica Wyeth's Travels" somewhere in Jessica's hometown of Hamilton, Massachusetts. If you go onto the Geocache site, you'll read these details:
|You'll have to find the bug to read the tracker numbers!|
This travel bug is dedicated to Jessica Wyeth of Hamilton, Massachusetts. Help Jessica travel and find the best places horse lovers can go to fuel their passion.
Jessica is an expert equestrian and is passionate about all things horse related. Help this bug travel to equestrian themed locations: Bridle trails? Race tracks? Farms? Homes of famous horse lovers? Places of real or fictional horses or their owners? A statue featuring a horse? Birthday party pony rides?
Or even better, if you've read her books, bring this bug to places from her story around Massachusetts, Kentucky, Wyoming, Utah, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Jessica Wyeth was born with traits she couldn't hide: beauty, cunning, an innate ability to survive and the desire to travel.
Jessica is the main character in "The Charity" and (upcoming in 2015) "The Troubles." She's had more than a bit of trouble hiding as an accused murderer. Now she's tangled up with terrorists.
There's a reward for helping her travel bug roam the world in search of all things horse. Post a name in your geocache comment, and you might see that name used in a story. Jessica needs friends and your suggested name might become the person who helps her! That name could also be transformed into a character in a short story.
So, let this bug travel the world in search of an equine experience, and have fun!
You read that right! I'm offering a reward. I'll be watching the travels of this bug and the comments very carefully. (I'll also be watching the comments on this blog post, too!) If you find the bug, post your discovery and a name you'd like to see in a story. It can be your name or one you make up, but be warned - the character may have some unsavory traits you might not like associated with your real name. I'm busy developing the third book in Jessica's series, and she really, really needs a friend or two. I write short stories too, so your suggested name could end up in one of those as well. Through the power of social media, I promise to notify you if I use your suggested name.
If you've read this blog before, I had great ambitions to make a puzzle geocache. This travel bug is one step closer to making that happen!
So, exercise your sense of adventure, creativity and body all at the same time! Don't sit on your tush reading! Get outside and enjoy the day! Have some fun!
More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.