The Cart Before the Horse
Or, why I’m writing this:
a Tor.com interview with Gordon van Gelder, wherein he discussed print versus the Internets;
the discussion in the comments of said interview, including Ellen Datlow, Nick Mamatas, Jason Stoddard, and more;
Yes, it’s a bit of a stew.
One of the topics touched upon by van Gelder and Scalzi involve what it takes to make providing free online fiction work, and how marketing at various publishing houses have been a bit clueless about it with respect to new authors, in that they think this will garner instant accolades and eyes.
The problem is that this doesn’t work when said author has no audience. Even before Agent to the Stars and Old Man’s War were put online for free, Scalzi was already building up an audience of readers—and a large body of non-fiction work as well. I’d say the same for Stross and very much for Doctorow. But conversely, that’s when it does work.
Something I Don’t Talk About Anymore
Dirty secret time.
I used to study blogging. Not so much about the art of blogging, but the art of blogging that sells; in other words, online marketing and brand-building. This used to get me some serious amount of hits, a lot of Stumbles, and so on. (Moving to SF/F really tanked that, which should tell you something depressing.)
But this is not something I want to talk about in writer circles ever again, because people suddenly get these weird ideas about online marketing.
Rather than bore you with a summary of some of the discussions I’ve had about this, here are some posts I’ve written in the past, that may be of interest to you, dear writer who wishes to speed your fame through teh Intertubes.
Back to the Past
Know what blogging doesn’t get you. If you read nothing else at my site ever again, read this one.
If you’re going to and/or put free content up there anyways, you need to think about the philosophy of free in relation to brand-building. This is not simple at all.
I never thought about it until recently because I had a day job. These days I do get paid for some of my writing, and this definitely has caused me to think more about this kind of thing.
If you’re going to try to go down this path, you need some kind of methodology to hit big numbers; this is one simplified template, and likely needs serious tweaking before being applied to fiction. This is the skeleton of Internet marketing and, frankly, is what a lot of traditional publishing marketing guys are missing, much less the heart and other important internal organs of Internet marketing.
Success stories using this method:
- The article itself. Over 15,000 hits.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Bounce Rates. Over 8,000 hits.
- Getting the Most Out of Entrecard. Over 5,000 hits, 59 comments.
- HTML for Dummies, Part 3: Effects with Borders, Padding, and Replacing Tables with Divs. Due to the last part, over 20,000 hits.
My failures are all sub-2000 hits, sometimes embarrassingly so, but always because they don’t hit the 4 principles, one of which is more or less out of my control.
In Four Little Words
Build an audience first.