Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Getting People's Attention Builds Your Base (And Fills Your Pockets)

Have you ever seen A Nightmare on Elm Street? Even if you haven't, you're probably familiar with the series' villain, the infamous Freddy Krueger. A horribly burned phantom, Krueger haunted the dreams of an entire generation of characters, dispensing brutal, vicious death as they slept. The challenge for the heroes became fighting sleep itself, staying out of the murderous ghost's realm as long as they could.

That setup was a lot of fun on its own, but there was something else that made Krueger unique as a villain; the source of his power. While some spirits drew power from their rage, or from the blood spilled in their haunt, Krueger's power was drawn directly from his own legend. The more people who knew his name, and his story, the stronger he became.

A silly story, maybe, but it still has a hold on your imagination.
While that's an essentially inspired twist on the Don't Say His Name trope, it's also a handy way for me to explain what it's like being an author. Because, for the most part, we tend to be ghoulish creatures with strange gimmicks who play on the emotional sensitivities of a particular brand of victim. Also, our power grows in direct proportion to how many people know who we are, what we do, and who talk about us.

Spread The Legend

In all seriousness, though, this is how you maintain your career as an author. Publish or perish is not just something we say to sound cool. Because as soon as we stop putting out content, and people stop talking about us, we fall out of the public eye. And in the darkness of obscurity, with no one reading our books, checking out our blogs, or stopping by our channels, we wither and die.

Put another way, being the center of attention is what puts you bucks up.

How many times did they say your name today?
Note that I say attention, but don't qualify it as good attention or bad attention. Because, at the end of the day, there really isn't such a thing as bad press. Especially when you consider that the Internet seems to run on outrage.

So, on the one hand, it's nice to sit down on a popular show to talk with a host who is cooing over your latest release to their thousands of fans. On the other hand, you can get shot to the top ten on Amazon's bestseller list if you're slapped with a viral cease and desist order by Jack Daniels (more on that story in Will Self Publishing Work For You? Maybe... If You're Lucky!).

Because whether you're getting glowing praise, or you're an Internet-wide trash fire, people are going to show up to see what's going on. And if they're already standing there, chances are good they're going to tell their friends about you, and they might buy a tee shirt and a copy of your book while they're at it. Even if it's just to see what all the fuss and hype is about.

Keep The Whisper Stream Going

If you have an author you love, and whom you want to keep coming back time and time again, then take a moment to follow the advice I put out in Care and Feeding of Your Author. You should, of course, buy their books. However, there's other stuff you can do to help keep the legend alive. Follow their social media pages, for example, and like the posts they make. Share their work with family and friends, and leave reviews on all the big websites telling everyone how much you like their books.

Also, feel free to reach out to the authors you like with some words of encouragement. Let them know they aren't just screaming into the void; you're listening, eagerly, for what they put out next.

Seriously, that's more important than we let on a lot of the time.
That's all for this week's Business of Writing. Hopefully it got your attention, and gave you something to think about. If you'd like to stay up-to-date on all my releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you want to show some love, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to put a few bucks in my tip jar. For as little as $1 a month, I'll even send you some free books as a thank you!

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