The Risk And Rewards of Trying Something New or How Did I Get This This Old And Ornery So Soon?

While the basics of writing – putting words on the page, telling a good story, basking in fame and fortune, etc. – don’t really change over time, the methods by which writers tell stories and the way in which we tell the world about those stories does change. Quickly. VERY quickly. My day job is in technology and web content management and that stuff is always changing and sometimes I wonder if it gives me a false sense of being tech savvy or at the forefront of digital promotion. Two recent examples give me pause about that.

Both of these resulted in my obsessive following and copying of Kameron Hurley’s promotional genius. She, like myself, is a content manager and has managed (haha) to use her day job skills to promote her fiction career to the next level (see her great piece for this very site here about writing and promotion).  One of her mantras is to go where the readers are. To this end she is always exploring new social media models and new distribution models. Some of what she does I have no interest in doing (Wattpad) but two things sounded like something I should look into.

The first was Snapchat. I’ve been hearing about this everywhere and how it was the new thing and what a great tool it is for writers and editors. And I failed miserably to get it. I didn’t understand it and it just baffled the ever loving hell out of me. I couldn’t see a way forward with Snapchat that would either give me a new outlet to meet new people and hang out in a new way with my current friends or give me an outlet talk about writing and books and my bad luck with restaurants. As opposed to Instagram which I got immediately. I read up on Snapchat even but the terms they were using and the ideas being espoused were so far away from how I use the Internet and how I interact online that I knew I would never get it. So no Snapchat for me.

The other, more complicated, item I’ve been looking into is doing a newsletter. In general I hate author newsletters. I can only remember reading one in my life and that was Robert Crais’s when he was sending out excerpts of the new Elvis Cole book we’d all been waiting for since LA Requiem. Since then I’ve signed up here and there for author newsletters and some of them I even enjoy but none of them are anything I read regularly. Everything in the newsletters is stuff I already knew from following the author online. But a wise friend pointed out to me that a newsletter isn’t about me. It’s about my readers. And believe it or not, there are A LOT of readers out there not following my every move on Facebook or at this website.

That got me thinking quite a bit. I certainly don’t want to be leaving any readers on the table. He also raised a good point about distributing my content in a way that isn’t owned by any social media entity. That’s the main reason I host my own content here but not everyone comes to my site. So needless to say a lot of good points were raised by many people about why I should be doing it. And putting it together really wouldn’t be that hard. The templates they make these days are very easy to use and I’m already writing most of the content I’d fill it with here on the website, so it’s just a matter of cross posting it to the newsletter as well without the frippy posts that occasionally pop up here.

So why am I not jumping right on the bandwagon and getting this thing rolling? Because I’m not sure I have it in me to go begging for people to sign up. I hate asking people to sign up for my Facebook author page, I hate begging for reviews, and the idea of one more thing I need to beg readers for makes me sick to my stomach. I know this will be a slow build and over time the subscriptions will tick up, just like they did with this website, but I’m already torn in a bazillion other directions and the marketing effort needed to make sure I don’t fall on my ass with Riot Load is already making me anxious enough so I think this will be one of those back burner ideas I routinely think about but don’t do anything with until the very last minute.