Years ago, in another life, I was a massage therapist. I went to school at night and my Saturdays were filled with practice. It was said that after 1500 hours of hands on work, you knew what you were doing.
What does this have to do with writing? Read on.
We writers all make a decision to write. It may take years, the stories and people inside our head getting stronger, and then one day we sit down and write. We may or may not keep at it, but we always come back to writing. We can’t not stop writing.
After graduation I continued my studies, because you needed Continuing Educational Units to keep up your certification, and later, your license. So I studied Cranio-Sacral work under Hugh Milne, D.O. Zero Balancing with Fritz interested me so I pursued my certification in that. Then Process Acupressure with Aminah Raheem. Lymph Drainage, Upledger. T.T. Medical massage seemed like a good idea, so I studied that back at my old massage school. So many classes. I learned so damn much.
Did I ever use those different modalities? Yes, but straight massage was what people wanted, what they came back for. So I did massage, but I also used every bit of knowledge I had to add to the massage. I believe that is what kept people coming back for sixteen years. Eventually I could put my hands on someone, and my hands knew where to go, what to do. That was from practice, trial and error.
We writers offer classes about writing, take classes about writing and classes about subjects we’ll use in our books. We never really stop trying to improve our craft. Some things work for us, and some things that work for others don’t work for us. But we keep trying to improve ourselves.
My practice flourished, and I kept it up for sixteen years. Did I advertise? You bet I did. At the beginning. I stopped a lot of advertising when my practice was steady, with only my name in the yellow pages. At the end, my name wasn’t even listed because I didn’t have the time to take on new people. By then it was by referral only.
Funny thing about advertising and promoting yourself. It works. The thing is, you can spend a fortune promoting yourself, but unless you aim it at people who want what you have, what you can provide, it’s money wasted. Know your audience.
There were those who believed they didn’t need to advertise, that if someone was meant to see them, they would eventually find their name and number. Mainly acupuncturists had that idea. Okay, to each his own point of view. But when I referred someone to an acupuncturist by name, unless I had their card or knew their number by heart, and I never did, the person could never reach them…because they couldn’t find them! So they found someone else, someone whose number they could find.
So have a way for people to find you. Have a way for people to see your name. Over and Over. It doesn’t have to be by advertising. Or the shot-gun approach, please not that. FaceBook is a nice way to meet people and have your name seen. Yahoo groups. Google+. Twitter. Goodreads, Shelfari. Join your local writer’s chapter. Attend local conferences and make friends. Start a blog. Follow blogs. Be nice. I believe people are more likely to try one of your books if they are familiar with you.
I have a little plaque hanging on my wall that reads, “Because Nice Matters”. It does. I used to refer people to other practitioners. They would refer back to me.
I recommend authors and books I like, not because I expect them to do the same to me, but because I like them and think others will, too. I love to read and am so happy when I find a new author I enjoy and can enthusiastically recommend. I don’t write horror, suspense, mystery, etc., but I read them and enjoy them.
There are so many books published each year, no one can possibly read them all, let alone buy them all. So it does help writers and readers to say, Hey! I liked this! Remember, with ebooks, they are always available, as opposed to print books with their short shelf life.
Of course, I did have clients who didn’t like what I did. They were used to something different, and by golly, I wasn’t doing it the way their usual person did it! Same with books, isn’t it? I have loved and recommended books to people who didn’t think they were that special. They didn’t understand why I thought the book was so great. I didn’t understand how they couldn’t think it was great.
That’s the way it goes. Some people will like you, and some won’t.
And then there is the Fear Factor, but that is a subject for another post.
Any thoughts about the above? I’d love to receive comments.