Spread the word…

The written word is an amazing thing. Contracts bind people. Novels spellbind people. Nonfiction helps people–whether in self-help or in information.

And the internet is an amazing way to spread the word about something. That’s why websites for authors are so important. And search engine optimization–which is the keying in of metatags to your website so that you’ll come up first in a search engine. If you google your name, and it doesn’t come up on top, you need to take a look at your metatags. If you don’t know how to do that, you need to look up the directions or get a web designer that has a clue. You can hire someone to maintain your website, if you aren’t web saavy.

But it is by word of mouth, and one by one contact, that we gain a fan base. If I can give you one word of advice today, it would be to value each person you speak to. Do not ever act like you’re looking for someone “better” to talk to.

I see this all the time. People are talking to a writer, but the writer is looking over their head, hoping to find someone else to reach now that they’ve made contact with this one. You would do better to give full attention for several minutes to the one you’re speaking with.

This is a basic “people edification” skill. Edify the one you’re with, with your complete attention. They will feel so good from those few moments with you, where you listened to what they like or dislike, and where they are coming from, that they will ring your praises. I swear this will work to spread your name.

Conversely, if you act like you don’t have time for someone, they will speak of you poorly. He was abrupt. He was rude. He walked away before I finished my sentence. Don’t let that be the trail that follows you.

Look people in the eye. Tell them, without a doubt, why you think they’ll like your book. But listen to them for a minute to find out what they like, then skew your presentation of your work to fit them.

For example, my novel The Price of Peace…when I talk to people who are into history, I say, “This is set in 13th Century Wales. Reviewers say it has great flavor and is highly recommended.” I also mention that Deborah McGillivray, a famous Scottish historical romance writer, reviewed the book and loved it. (See the reviews on my website: http://www.jenniferdicamillo.com/ )
When I talk to people into fantasy, or sword slinging things like Lord of the Rings, I say “This is a sword slinging novel.”

When I talk to romance readers, I say “This has an epic romance in it.” I bring up Deborah McGillivray’s review, and also the review I have by Rita Gerlach, Nora Roberts’ cousin who also writes romance. (and has a great newsletter for writers, by the way.)
When I speak to mystery readers, I say “This has a lot of suspense, and it’s based on a mystery. This woman has planned the downfall of five clans. You’ll want to put the pieces together as you read, and try to figure out why. Oh, yeah, and there’s murder and suspense and a lot of other things like that in this.” I also add that National Best Selling author Barb D’Amato, past president of Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime International, said some really good things about my novel, too.

See how I went out and got reviews from people others will be impressed by? We listen up when we hear names of famous people. Also, those names are great to put in your metatags.

Back to The Price of Peace…It’s also a literary novel. If you think about it, you will see that it views a wide range of what people will do for peace. Some will fight for it. Some will die for it. And some will compromise everything they have for it. Some will sacrifice beyond measure.

And there’s an underlying theme about faith. Nothing that will beat you to death. But, in the end, it points you to a fact that it doesn’t matter what you believe, we all pray to a higher power. (atheists excluded, of course.) But, it starts with pagans and is set by an abbey, at a time when paganism and Christianity were vying for followers in Wales. See? The conflict on this may appeal to inspirational readers because it is an inspirational read. It may appeal to pagans because the protagonist is a pagan, and her daughter is torn between that and Christianity and finding her own path.

But more than anything I always say it’s EPIC. Because that one is.
I don’t bill my second novel as epic, though, because it isn’t. My Courting Disaster novel is sword slinging, tongue lashing foreplay. It’s fun. It’s a romp and stomp farce written for men and women, a double romance written, my editor says, in the flavor of Shakespeare in Love. There are a couple murders, but it’s not mystery. There is intrigue, though–and that will appeal to mystery readers.

And it is set in a place I made up, but has a historical feel. Most importantly, there are several main characters and they seem very different, like most people do, but in the end, you can see that they are all looking for the same thing. See how this can be examined and the appeal to ANY reader can be presented.

One reader told me, “I loved three of the four main characters, adored them! But that Prince, I’d like to run him over with a truck.”

Loved main characters. Hated someone enough to email me. She WILL remember my story, and my name and she’s told me she talks about it to her friends, some of which have read it now.

People who read The Price of Peace in 2004 when it came out still email me, saying, “I was thinking about that story again.”

What’s important is that I connected with those people on a deeper level. I have since met them in person. I went out of my way to go where they would be, and they are true fans.

Love your readers. Listen to them. Know who your audience is. Set up your website so that there is an easy email button for people who read your work to email you. That is how you set up a fan base. And get a newsletter list. Even if you only email it once a month, or every other month, stay in touch with your readers, and tell them what you’re doing as a writer.

And by all means, get a blog. Even if you only blog once a month. Get guests to come and blog. Post interviews of other writers, like I do here. Go on virtual tours, spreading the word about your books and works by commenting on other author’s blogs, signing with your website underneath your name. You can spread your word a lot by sharing fan bases with other writers.

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