Christmas Eve in the Woods
A Snowland Sun

Don’t Whore Your Baby (Or, How NOT to Launch a Book or Deck)

You’ve worked hard on your book or deck, lovingly dedicating yourself to your craft, your creation, your…baby.


Like a proud Mom or Pop, you want to show off your newborn to the world.

Proud smallerIsn’t she pretty?

Doesn’t he have Daddy’s chin?

Isn’t she the most adorable thing ever?

Thing is, books and decks aren’t babies…they’re products.

While the rare artist creates just for the sake of creating, most make art because they want to delight, entertain, inform, encourage and heal others.

This means most artists want, and need, an audience.

Otherwise, they’d be content to paint pictures, push pixels or massage words in obscurity.

Oh, and there’s this thing about paying the rent and eating at least one meal every 24 hours…

And maybe, just maybe, acquiring the ability to actually make a living at one’s art or—dare we dream—even become financially comfortable one day?

This takes coin. Serious coin.

In this day, even traditionally published authors need to promote their work as much as their indie brethren.

So, inspired by their colleagues who make it look oh-so-easy, these proud parents hop on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn—hoping to connect their progeny to a buying welcoming world…expecting perfect strangers (or even past fans) to lavish it with praise and PayPal transactions.

A week goes by. Then two. Then a month.

Why hasn’t the world fêted my newborn with the cyber-equivalent of a baby shower, replete with Twitter RTs rattles, FB shares stuffed bears and Amazon purchases tender congratulations wrapped around a financial gift?, the creative mother quietly asks herself.

Baby Belly Frank Selmo
Photo Courtesy Frank Selmo via WANA Commons

The new parent becomes nervous. The world isn’t jumping on the “my kid is great” bandwagon.

Weeks go by.

Hell, they haven’t even helped with the baby announcements!

Staring at the computer monitor, heartbeat caroming the ribcage like butterflies hepped up on coke, the parent cries Where are my friends? My family? My supportive colleagues?

The parent begins Googling the baby, hoping to find a book blogger’s mention an announcement in the local newspaper or an Amazon review old-fashioned card of congratulations delivered snail-mail.

Nothing.

Desperation ensues, and a thick miasma of mixed feelings descends on the once-thrilled mama artist.

And the social media whoring begins.

Buy Books 400Buy my book!

 Sample an excerpt!

 Follow me and I’ll follow you!

Please RT!!!!!

Now free on Kindle! Three days only! Don’t MISS IT!

See my new painting! Here’s a coupon code worth 10% off!

My new book on Smashwords! It's a cross between Stephen King and Nora Roberts!

Suddenly, internet acquaintances are bombarded with these kinds of anxious posts birth announcements from you…the frantic proud parent.

Facebook groups that you’ve not posted to for a year or more suddenly see chirpy greetings from you, complete with a link to your product page baby photos. Colleagues that you have ignored when they launched a new Tarot deck birthed new babies get surprise messages.

Radio silence for months—even years—and BOOM, you and your “baby” are everywhere.

Some are happy to see you. Others wonder where you’ve been.

Colleagues who could have really used your encouragement and support when they were trying to get pregnant—eventually getting that baby baking in the oven and finding themselves in their own new-parent boat—begin to resent your sudden chumminess.

They see what you’re doing.

You’re using them. And, sometimes, their groups.

And whoring your baby, to boot.

People begin to feel icky around you and about you. You’ve not engaged with these acquaintances and former colleagues for months and months. You’ve not been there when a Dad has died, a pet was lost or a child has graduated High School.

Empty SwingNor were you cybernetically “there” for the minor celebrations, defeats or goofy fun.

You were nowhere in sight during Facebook “dance parties” when we gathered to post our favorite YouTube videos—chatting a running commentary on times past.

No replies or “likes” for the funny posted cartoons, the aired angst of a working creative or the new coffee creamer that’s to die for.

In short, you don’t really care about relationships. At least, it doesn’t look that way.

Because if you did, you’d be there for all the “little things” (or, at least, one little “thing” a week)...as opposed to, you know, only showing your face when you want something have a baby announcement.

Let me be clear: it’s about relationships.

These days, content may still be King…but relationships are Queen. You are no Queen if you forget or dismiss the “social” in Social Media.

Given two equally lovely Tarot decks, informative books or helpful services, consumers will likely support the artist/author/maven who has been engaged with them for the long haul. Who chatted them up in the wee hours even when no product was being launched. Who cared enough to answer a FB post, Tweet or email. Who provided helpful information, reviews or advice when they were trying to get “pregnant”.

But, you may be whining saying, I don’t have time to do that! I’m busy creating!

Bullshit.

Look, I write traditionally published books and eBooks. I own four blogs, and write for a fifth. I conduct Tarot webinars and radio interviews. I’m a professional Tarot reader for a worldwide clientele. I'm an Amazon.com Hall of Fame/Vine Reviewer. I’m co-creating the Snowland Deck, and forming a cottage industry around it (including designing jewelry, picking out fabrics, procuring crystals). I am my own webmaster (always have been), and handle all my personal correspondences, bookings and social media.

This, on top of owning a 12-room house to take care of with my husband, domestic duties and homeschooling our almost-14-year-old…not factoring in other “life issues” like losing my Dad in March, illness and dealing with a terrorizing neighbor who’s out on bail for attempted murder (thankfully, not mine!).

So don’t tell me you don’t have “time” to make connections, foster friendships and remain engaged with your potential fan base…even for only a few minutes a day.

If you have time to smoke a cigarette, watch reality TV for hours on end or drink a cup of coffee, you have time to interact with people online.

Simple as that.

Don’t think you can ignore people for months (or years) and expect them to throw a full-on party for your newest creative baby.

We don’t live in that kind of internet world. 

-- Janet

Comments

Seraphsarah

Hi Janet,

I found you on Amazon, while looking for someone to review my ebook. I read your site and saw that there was a link to an email- but there must be a problem with my browser. I couldn't click on it.
I tried sending you the email through FB, but it doesn't have that option unless my friendship request was accepted.

This article has it spot on. You really do need to engage people and create a relationship with them. I am also much more apt to support someone who has treated me as an equal than those who pretend they have better things to do than converse with a "fan" etc. I want to feel the person is "real" and down to Earth...and I try to do this as well. My own ebook does fairly well considering I am a "nobody" lol. But it could do a lot better too. I'll keep up the marketing and keeping in touch with those who read my work. ;)

Janet Boyer

I can't believe I've not put an Email Module on my blogs, Seraphsarah! *wince* I've just remedied that. Thank you for pointing this out to me!

I don't recall getting your FB friend request; would you like to try again...or maybe share the FB URL with me?

Your comment is RIGHT on. There are times I've been interested in buying a book, and as I sat on the fence, tried to engage the author or even Tweeted about one of their posts or the book itself. When they ignore me and other Tweeters (or FBers), only posting about ME ME ME...I lost interest in both the author AND the book/s.

By the same token, I've bought books just because the author was engaging, funny and/or smart...and replied to me. Sometimes, these authors don't even MENTION their books (you have to find it by going to the website listed on their Twitter profile, for example). Now, these ones might need to step UP their promoting a wee bit (don't make me hunt for your stuff!), but, DANG...do these ones become attractive.

And it's because they are human, amusing, informative or just plain kind.

Granted, we creatives are pressed for time...so it may be best to focus on only ONE social media outlet. Better to do one excellently than five of them half-assed or obnoxiously, right? :o)

Thank you so much for reading my stuff and taking the time to post, Seraphsara! Please keep in touch. (By the way, are you on Twitter and/or Google+? Send me a shout-out so I can find you!)

Janet

Seraphsarah

Thank you for the reply,

I don't use twitter much- I added you just now though. I should try to use it more often, more of a facebook person lol.
I am not too familiar with google plus, I connected one of my accounts and added you. I've tried before on my photography email- but never learned how to use it properly. I'll have to learn soon.

Craig Conley

Great article, Janet! I can't tell you how many "missing in action" folks have suddenly wanted to be my friend again when it comes time to ask for a new blurb for their latest work. And I'm like, "Wait a minute -- I don't feel like I *know* you anymore!" What these folks don't seem to realize is just how *little* it would have taken to stay on my radar along the way.

Kirsten Weiss

Well said! I think a lot of people still don't "get" social media. They just don't realize how spammy posts can feel, or they start to feel overwhelmed by all the different types of social media so they shut down.

But in today's Internet age, where so many people are researching products and buying online, we NEED to be better at it if we want to sell. (And I'm not saying I'm great at it either. It seems not a week goes by when I don't think, "Duh! Why wasn't I doing THAT?") My advice to small business friends facing overload is to find out where your clients are online, and focus on that one social media platform until you're ready to move on to others. And then get a social media management system like Hootsuite!

Janet Boyer

Craig, I'm so sorry I didn't see your post until now! I'm very glad I put that comments module right on my blog; otherwise, I may not get notifications of comments! ::wince:: You are SO right: it doesn't take much to stay in contact with people. It's SO easy to spot when someone is trying to use us by chummying after months (years?) of being AWOL. I find it disgusting.

Hi Kirsten! You know, I think the problem is that authors aren't prepared BEFORE the book launch (or even the book deal). They think it "doesn't matter"...that they have "better things to do with their time". Then, once the book comes out, they realize no one's paying attention to their "baby". Panic ensues. They try to play "catch up" by spamming social media outlets.

And it pisses people off.

In fact, I felt I needed to address the further, and JUST made another blog post called Two Things You Need to Know BEFORE You Launch a Book. Would love to hear your thoughts on this new post!

Petros Rooney

I very much agree with you, Janet. I think the old adage 'people only want you when they can get something out of you' rings true here. Those people aren't encouraging anyone else's efforts, they aren't actually interested in what their followers think, they are only interested in having their own work praised. In a way, it's self-defeating, because people can see right through the whoriness (is whoriness a word? well it is now) and selfishness. Surely, there is nothing wrong with promoting your artistic endeavours, but that is all some people are interested in doing - promoting themselves. I am glad to know that you are not like that - You engage your followers, keep them up to date on current projects and share your personal experiences. There is so much more depth to what you do than can be said about some people. I greatly admire you for that. I find it amazing how much effort you put into your work and how much of your time you give without receiving the same in return. All this while facing bitter criticism from your detractors, and somehow you still remain committed and prolific. People who say they simply don't have enough time to engage their followers online are, of course, full of it. There's a quote I like that goes something like this - “Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” - I'd like to add Janet Boyer to that list too :)

Janet Boyer

Oh wow...color me flattered, Peter! XO Thank you, Dear One. You know, when I first went online, I socialized. Eventually, I became a blogger. Then, a reviewer--followed by pro Tarot reader, author and deck creator.

People have always been "first" with me, and that didn't change once I had "stuff" to sell. I think, with some people, they jump online only WHEN they have something to hawk...which not only puts them at a disadvantage, but also repels the very audience/clients they want.

Kingsjourney

As always Janet,great blog! :)

Janet Boyer

Thank you, James! :o)

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