Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Friday, December 20, 2019
My writing colleague Linda O'Connell recently nudged me into trying to promote myself. You know, get my face and name out there. She suggested I reach out to newspaper and local TV news folks to connect my most recent Chicken Soup story to what's going on in our country... and she even wrote a text to get me thinking.

This is what she wrote:

"Despite continued stereotyping, and Donald Trump calling Ferguson one of the most dangerous cities in the world,  I'd like to share with you and the community at large my timely and inspirational story. ‘MY Ferguson’ was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, My Kind of America. 

The story of Cathy and Jerome Jenkins and young Cortez Thomas is hopeful, positive, and uplifting--exactly what people need to hear in these trying and divisive times.

I am a published writer, former seasoned Ferguson public school teacher, and current parochial school teacher who believes ....(your mantra or something like this:)  Goodness trumps hate. If we seek the good, we will find it."

The thing is, Linda is gifted when it comes to promotion. You read her posts, you listen to her, and she weaves in bits of self-promotion in a creative (and interesting way). She never piles it on. You never feel like "Will this bragging never end?" because it's not bragging. She drops a detail about a published piece, and usually follows it up with something inspirational, or generously shares a writing resource she's found.


I have to dip my toes into these unknown waters (marketing) because at some point in the next 98 years, I will have my novel published. (Look for it in 2020 at a street corner near you. It'll be hand-written, on a stack of legal pads.) In February I will be doing someting incredibly exciting and terrifying. I'll be taking a WOW class on creating a platform (Website. Newsletters. Effective Posts. Yikes! Karen Cioffi has her work cut out with me). Will I be able to walk that fine line between singing the same song over and over (Buy my book! Buy my book!) and being so quiet, nobody knows I'm out there?

I'm not sure. I would hope I'd be able to dig up enough interesting details about my life and my job, so I could them to cushion a promotional tidbit here and there. We'll see.

I read a New York Times article on how authors in the past create brands for themselves. How crazy were the schemes? Here are a couple of them:

In the late 1800's, Guy de Maupassant (who came up with my all-time favorite writing quote: "Get black on white.") launched a hot air balloon. It flew over the river Seine, the side of the balloon emblazoned with the title of his most-recently published short story. 

In the early 1900's, Georges Simenon announced he would write an entire novel in just three days. To make it even more challenging, he'd do it in a glass cage outside the Moulin Rouge nightclub.

Three days? That's even worse than NaNoWriMo. However, Simenon never had to go through with the stunt, because the newspaper that was financing went out of business, putting a stop to the clever scheme. It didn't stop people from claiming they'd witnessed the writer tapping away in his glass cage... even though it had never happened.

(This one got me thinking. I could write in a glass cage--naked. People would pay money for me to put clothes back on. Certainly, I'd make more money that way than I would as a writer.)

So, in the next few months I'll be trying to learn how to build a platform for myself. A platform sturdy enough to support my wide rump. Is such a thing possible? We'll see.


Margo Dill said...

Your platform needs to include humor writing because you are funny!

Your post makes me think this: if you worked as hard as you did to write a wonderful book which you did, plus all your amazing essays, that if you don't tell the world about it--it's a disservice to the world. Writers and artists are the only people who have a business and feel bad for telling people about it, and I'm not sure why...what is it about us? But we can't be like this to be successful. Coke and Pepsi advertise. Target advertises. Your local bookstore and the Ferguson Brewery advertise, so why don't authuors feel okay doing it? Anyway, I agree 100 percent with Linda! :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Thank you. That is so true about writers. I hadn't thought of it before. Perhaps it's because writers are artists, and although we're promoting our work product--our writing--it comes from US and our soul more than Coke and Pepsi come from the soda producers' heart and soul.

Have a great Christmas. From the sounds of it, I don't have to wish you a wonderful 2020. This next year is going to be a busy one for you.

Renee Roberson said...

Yes, I agree with Margo about the humor writing. I laughed out loud a few times reading this post. I'm so excited you'll be taking a platform-building class! I have a feeling you will walk away with more inspiration and ideas than you'll know what to do with, but you can handle it. You need to get your rear in gear so that when your book is published, you're not scrambling to get your name out there. People will already know who you are.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--It does sound like it's going to be a wonderful class, but I will be taking the short bus to Karen's class. I will need lots of extra hand-holding.

And thanks for the encouragement. I hope you're right.

Myna said...

Good luck with the class! Self promo is necessary. I hope you have fun with it.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Myrna--Thanks. I'm sure I will learn a lot from it. Fun? I'm not sure. I'm not sure how much the intstructor will have, with me as a student... ;)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sioux, Do you retain rights to your Chicken Soup essays? I think you do, and if that's the case, you should try to republish them to an online literary magazine that accepts reprints. And if they don't, you could cruise themed calls for submissions on Submittable or Duotrope, and if the call fits well with your story, you could pitch the publication and many would be willing to make an exception if it fits their call. I made a pact with myself to only submit to online publications because they receive so much more exposure, and anyone can read them without purchasing anything. It's the best promotion because if people like what you're writing they'll want to read your book.

Also, have you tried to submit pieces from your novel? Turn some pieces into short stories, or there are websites like TheWriteLaunch that publish novel chapters. And there are contests that call for first chapters or even entire novel contests. It could be a way to drum up agent interest and is a more direct way to get your novel out there. Also those agent pitch sessions on Twitter like #PitMad... the next one is coming up in March (, or even Pitch Wars ( - I don't think you need Twitter for that one.

Building a platform is great too, and necessary, but also think about direct project promotion in creative ways. :) I'm excited for you!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--Those are all great ideas. I do retain the rights to the CS stories, so getting more bang for my writing buck is definitely appealing.

How do you do so much and know so much? I like the pitch session idea, too, along with the novel contests.

Publishing a chapter or section would not work, I think. It's a novel that simmers for a while before it really heats up. Publishing a section when the tension is high would spoil it, and taken out of context, wouldn't make a lot of sense. However, that's just my opinion.

Myna said...

I wonder if you could package all your Chicken Soup stories for a short story collection?

Sioux Roslawski said...

Myna--Some writer friends have talked about that before. We've considered getting together and getting an anthology published--a collection of all our Christmas stories, for example--but all we've done is talk.

Are you saying that we'd at least sell one (to you? ;)

Linda O'Connell said...

Well look what happens when I take a week off from blogging. Thank you for the kind remarks.
Sioux, everyone has to find their own comfort zone. Some extroverts go all out, other writers are more low key and find their own way of promoting. One thing I try to keep in mind is not only am I promoting myself, but I feel obligated to promote the publication.

I also feel it is a good practice to offer readers a nugget of inspiration. Writing may be a solitary effort, but it is a team sport and we should support one another.
Now get your face and words out there. An excerpt from your book published in a literary magazine can bring visibility and prove your story has what it takes. Do a micro piece. I did and sent it to a mag in Ireland that snapped it up.

Wishing you huge success in 2020.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--That is exactly what you do. You inspire and support.

Back at ya--I am sure 2020 will be a great year--writing-wise and family-wise.

Pat Wahler said...

How cool you're taking a class on this! Now you'll need to do a post on what you learned from it for the rest of us. :-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Pat--I plan on writing about the (probably hilarious) learning curve I'll have to deal with.

How cool? You're funny, Pat. I'm way behind you, and way behind lots of other writers. I don't have a website, I'm not on any social media, and I'm scrambling to find a publisher. Hopefully things will change in 2020... ;)

Karen Cioffi said...

Sioux, thank you for mentioning my class! I'm looking forward to working with you. Don't worry, it'll be painless - kind of.

Every author needs to know about book promotion and building a platform. P.T. Barnum said, "Without promotion, something terrible happens. Nothing."

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