Thursday, March 26, 2009

Guest Blog: THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT



THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT

My name is Joe Konrath. Under the name JA Konrath, I write a series of thrillers featuring Chicago Homicide cop Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels. The sixth book, Cherry Bomb, is being released in July. Under the name Jack Kilborn, I write horror novels. Afraid, which might be the most frightening book ever written, is being released March 31.

Over the years, I've done my share of self-promotion. I even have a blog dedicated to the subject, called A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

One of the things I'm just starting to figure out, after six years in the biz, is the cumulative effect.

Advertising knows that repetition leads to sales. People have to hear a product's name time and time again before it begins to stick in their minds. They also have to try a product repeatedly before they become brand loyal. That's why successful brands like Coke and McDonalds continue to advertise even though everyone on the planet knows them; they want to stay at the forefront of their customers' minds.

Books, like hamburgers and soda, are products. It is in a writer's best interest to make as many people aware of their books as possible, and to turn as many of those people as possible into fans.

We do many things to try to make this happen. Besides writing good books, we spend a lot of time meeting librarians, booksellers, media folks, and fans. We spend a lot of time on the Internet, blogging and keeping up with social networks. We spend a lot of time writing stories and articles for anthologies, magazines, and websites, getting our name out there.

The cumulative effect comes into play when our previous efforts begin to compound our current efforts. It's easy to compare self-promotion to working out on a Stairmaster--we work our butts off just to stay in one place. But the fact is, it's more analogous to mountain climbing. And like mountain climbing, it seems like we might never reach the summit.

But each step does bring us closer to that elusive summit. Just as everything we do to self-promote can build upon the previous thing.

Every book you sell can lead people to you. If a stranger buys a book, reads it, and becomes a fan, that's great. But that stranger can also tell others about you, leading to more fans. Libraries and used book stores mean each book sold can reach several, perhaps hundreds, of new readers. The more books you have in print, the more chances readers have to discover you. If they discover you early in your career, they can follow you. If they discover you later in your career, they can go back and find your previous books.

Every short story, review, article, and interview you have in print can lead people to you. Anthologies and magazines are a great way to spread name-recognition and brand awareness. They allow you to reach new demographics.

Everything you do on the internet lasts forever. A good portion of people reading this are doing so soon after it was posted. But some of you found your way here weeks, months, maybe even years after these words were written. Whenever you appear on the net, you leave footprints that people can follow to where you are now. The more footprints you leave, the greater your chances of being found.

Events lead to events. A successful speaking engagement will be talked about, and can lead to requests for more speeches. Doing a good job on a radio interview can lead to others. The more you get out there, the more you get out there.

Little steps lead to big accomplishments. If you set minor daily goals, they become major accomplishments over time. Adding five Facebook friends a day means you'll have 1825 by the end of the year. But you'll actually have more than that, because people will find you and ask for your friendship. Collecting email addresses for your newsletter, blogging regularly so more people follow you, networking and linking to peers--this all begins to pay off and eventually snowball.

But for that snowball, you have to follow the Four Stays:

Stay in Print. The more books you have that are available to the public, the better off you are. The more stories and articles you sell, the more people you reach.

Stay Current. Make sure your website and social networks are up to date, and that you're constantly putting new content on the net.

Stay in Touch. Keep networking with fans, peers, librarians, booksellers, and the media, and make sure you're easily accessible.

Stay Open-minded. Without a willingness to try new things, you'll probably get stuck in a rut, and you'll definitely miss out on hot trends.

The key here is to survive long enough to catch on with the general population. The longer you survive, the likelier it is you'll be successful. It may take years. It may take decades. But if you keep building an audience, momentum will eventually take over and your audience will start to build itself.

That's how you climb mountains. One step at a time.

14 comments:

Rowena Cherry said...

Welcome, Jack!
And also Joe!!!

Scroll down for my review, which I posted about three days ago. I'm not sure what Joe has in store for those of us who comment, but I'm sure he will be counting.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for having me here, Rowena. :)

Karen from Mentor said...

Wow!
That was an awesome post. Clear, direct, earnest,fast paced and informative.
And sans jokes. The last part was a surprise, the rest was true to form.
Still lovin the tour.
Thanks Rowena.

Karen

Rowena Cherry said...

Thank you for commenting, Karen. I'm honored to host AFRAID for a day.

jane, candid said...

Joe,
I've enjoyed all the funny and irreverent posts through the course of this month, but this one really hit home. Thanks!
And thank you Rowena!
Jane

Susan Kelley said...

It might take decades? LOL. I better start getting more sleep so I last that long. Thanks for all the good advice, Jack.

joandelahaye said...

Thanks for the great advice! Got to keep climbing that mountain and hopefully we'll get a few books sold along the way!

Joan De La Haye
http://joandelahaye.wordpress.com/

Karen from Mentor said...

Hi Rowena,
In addition to all of his other numbers spiking, Joe's "Guests" in his guestbook have increased since the tour started.

http://www.jakonrath.com/photos.htm#guestbook

I was #63;now there are 70.
I signed the guestbook right after I stayed up all night reading Dirty Martini.

I wonder how many people have checked out the site but not signed in? It really does prove that the blog tour works, and IT HAS BEEN SO MUCH FUN!
Thanks again for having Joe here.
Karen

Rowena Cherry said...

Karen,

Thank you for the link. Adding myself took a bit of poking around... and I felt unable to comply with Joe's guidelines that we should all post pictures of ourselves naked and reading one of his books.

Best wishes,
Rowena

Karen from Mentor said...

Rowena,
I think that being naked is less of a guideline and more like wishful thinking on Joe's part. lol

But it made me laugh when I saw it as a suggested way to sign in, so did your comment about being unable to comply. (maybe you should follow up with a disclaimer that NO ONE who might or might not have access to naked photos of you should post them either. Don't want to leave the impression that the only reason you didn't post one was because there weren't any lying around in the back of the drawer.)
Thanks!

Karen :)

Karen from Mentor said...

Rowena,
I just went and looked at the photo that you posted in the Guestbook.
GREAT HAT!!
Did you see this post? :

http://meanderingsandmuses.blogspot.com/2009/03/lets-chat-about-hats.html

The pink hat that looks like it has hula hoops attached is my favorite.
Off to the park now.
Thanks for the entertainment.
Karen

Rowena Cherry said...

Thank you for the compliments and link, Karen. I have about 20 hats (probably more) but not all of them suit me, and a few are quite battered with us, or wilty, or have been targeted by birds... and if the bird had feasted on dark red fruits, no amount of attention with toothbrush and detergent will entirely remove the evidence from straw.

Unless you have a tip????

Rowena Cherry said...

Nudity, hats, and levity. What will Joe think. We are supposed to be so terrified that we lose our socks.

Karen from Mentor said...

Rowena,
I'm pretty sure that Joe'd be down with the nudity and the levity, I don't know how he feels about hats though.The hat link came from Jake Nantz's blog, The Penn Ferno, and they seem pretty chummy, so you never know.(he might LOVE naked funny women in hats) Hey, wasn't that the first Candid Camera Movie?

I once got thrown out of a major department store for laughing too loudly while trying on hats. (They thought we were drunk...but NO, just goofy)

My daughter looks DIVINE in ANY hat, no matter how else she's dressed. She could wear one of the "only at a wedding" style hats with flip flops and shorts and look great. I look silly in any hat, but I still wear them when the sun is fierce because otherwise I would be just one GIANT freckle. And I walk outside every day, snow,rain or shine, year round.

No tips on making your hat like new again. I usually end up sitting on my straw hats . I have to buy a new one each summer, like other people have to replace sunglasses or gloves. lol

Karen :)