Made it back from the Backspace conference (writers, agents, editors, and book publishers) without New York City eating me alive. Good ideas for a world in which agents, editors and book publishers continue to believe that men don't read books. (I think men don't BUY books. So far as I can tell men have been reading books ever since The Count of Monte Cristo was published in serial form in newspapers, right through Huckleberry Finn and Red Badge of Courage and continuing through male protagonists like Horatio Hornblower, Aubrey and Maturin, Travis McGee and, with hard work and some luck, Brother William Coleman and reckless Jesse Ludlam. But that's another post.)
This post is about how one 45-minute session on online social media revamped my whole outlook on doing business. Or, rather, it crystallized various soft-edged ideas I've had into a focused picture of a very doable plan.
The first point is, I no longer want to work for anyone else. Never again.
If I can lead a newspaper to 90 percent weekly market penetration in print and online, what can I do for myself?
Developing that rhetorical question:
1 More people can read right now than ever before in the history of the world. I've clubbed people with this fact again and again. Now it goes to work for me.
2 People who are geographically dispersed can, through social media, be sorted into demographics based on their interests.
3 Those sorted demographics can be reached by a writer and directed to information, ideas and stories they are interested in.
4 This makes the tradition paths to become a published author less critical to some level of success than ever before.
5 I possess and can grow the necessary skills to find, contact and cultivate the people who enjoy the kinds of books I prefer to write, which are historic fiction based around a core of real history.
So I now have a plan, and a new summary of why I get out of bed every day: "I write stories from history for people who regret not being there the first time around."
All that from a short, inspiring session by Don Lafferty on "Social Media Fast Track for Authors." He's my new inspiration for online marketing. A little quirk: He nailed my attention right at the beginning by noting that online marketing really involves listening closely more than anything else. Yeah, been preaching that to newsrooms for a long time myself, in a slightly different context. The clincher was when he described how to set up "listening posts" on the various social media. Used the same phrase myself in trying to rearrange the world of newspapers to avoid the stale old "you must go to the meetings to find out what is happening" paradigm.
So there we go. Or, rather, here I go. Online listening posts to find readers. We live in exciting times, and this time that's a blessing, not a curse.