As a writer, self promotion didn’t used to be important.
Most writers are more of the self-doubting introvert types as it is. Who would we promote ourselves to? The dog?
Well, things have changed. A lot.
Thanks in a large part to social media, promoting yourself and your work is now a generally unavoidable aspect of the writing business.
So, although the writing itself will always be the prime task and where most of your time is devoted, you should still set aside a little to let the world know you’re around.
For the most part that translates to an online presence, so that potential buyers, employers, collaborators, or fans can find out more about you. At the bare minimum, this can be done on most social media sites, which are generally free. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even LinkedIn.
Ideally, though, you should create a personal website, to serve as a digital resume and showcase. Although you might have produced credits listed on IMDb, your own website is where you can add details, images, work for non-traditional venues, and even unproduced projects or works-in-progress.
The site should also serve as the central location for any other things you have out there on the internet – links to your social media accounts, official websites for projects you were/are involved in, possibly even sites for friends and collaborators.
You probably shouldn’t put your email address on there for everyone to spam, but a contact form is helpful if people don’t know how else to reach you. It would suck to miss out on an opportunity due to lack of access.
Finally, there should be a section or page where you can post news – press, a job, an award, a newly finished spec, or produced project. Even a work-in-progress if the progress might be interesting to followers.
I don’t know much about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but making the most of it can help drive people to the website you’ve worked so hard on. If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive, check out this article from Indie Comix Dispatch. It’s tailored for comic creators, but most of it can be applied to creatives across the board.
All that said, don’t be overwhelmed by this list. You don’t have to do it all at once. Or all ever. You can just pick and choose the bits that work for you.
PROMOTE YOUR PROJECT
When you have a freshly finished project – from a short to a feature, a webisode to a series episode, a book, short story, or graphic novel – make sure you shout about it from the highest digital rooftop.
Obviously, you highlight it on your site and socials, but also beyond…
Consider the genre and audience that might be interested. Then seek out the sites that cater to the same types of material.
Many sites have contact information or forms you can fill out. Pitch your project and see if they’d be open to doing a story or announcement. Maybe a review. Maybe an interview.
Sometimes, websites actively seek out contributors. See if you can find an angle that allows you to write about your project in a way that would be entertaining or informative to their audience.
Beyond the sites that match your project, think about the places that match you. Is the paper that covers where you grew up open to doing a piece on the local done good? How about the neighborhood paper where you live now?
Schools like to highlight alumni that are working in the field they studied. Pitch them a feature story about what makes your journey or project special or interesting to students or prospective students. At the bare minimum, you can usually post a short bit about what you’re up to on the school’s website.
There are also an infinite number of podcasts out there. Seek out one that matches your project and determine if they have guests. Contact them to explain why you’d be an amazing addition to their show.
It’s a numbers game and you need to know going in that far more venues will ignore you than agree to cover your project. Don’t let it get you down. Just keep going until you run out of places to pitch. Form relationships and then promote their coverage of you.
Sell, sell, sell!
With my current project, Blowback, I’m doing as many of these things as I can right now.
I’ve even been fortunate enough to get an interview on the VoyageLA digital magazine.
So I know it can be done.
Sometimes, when you’re self-promoting – no, most of the time – it’ll feel like you’re shouting into the abyss. No one’s listening, no one cares. Other times, you might find your shout is being drowned out by all the other shouts from your fellow creators. It’s just a whole lot of white noise.
Maybe, maybe not.
Regardless, you still need to put in the effort and stake a claim on a little bit of that internet real estate. In the new millennium, it’s part of the writers’ job. Don’t fight it.