People tell me that I have generated quite a buzz around publishing (well, self-publishing) Siren Suicides, my first trilogy novel thingy. To be honest with you, I had no idea I did, I didn't even specifically plan to generate any kind of buzz, I just blabbed about it on every corner, not to promote it, but to share everything that happened around it, because it was such a deep topic for me to talk about, to write about, to share. Now that it happened, now that I wrote it and published it, I decided to take a look back and analyze what is it that I did that generated this whole buzz around it, so I can share with you some tricks, hopefully (if there are any, okay?). I'll just tell you what I did, and let's see together if there is anything worth stealing here, for future buzz applications.
Real time updates generate excitement. So, let's be real here. If you're J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, you can create a big storm of publicity and interest simply by announcing a certain date for a new book release. Unfortunately, you're not Stephen King and I'm not J.K. Rowling, which means that most people don't know anything about you or me or our books. I say, most, because I'm sure at least someone in your family or some of your friends know that you've written a book. That's not enough, though, right? You want the whole world to know, right? Right. I do too. But the trick to it is, now that I look back at what I did, not to promote your book and shove it under everyone's face, demanding them to read it, but to share your journey with people. When you're a nobody, when you're just starting out as a writer, people won't buy your books because your books are awesome (let's face it, they're not, not until you have written a bunch of them), but because they know you as a person, they want to help you out, they are rooting for you. So that's what I did, I simply posted real time updates on what I did, every day, all of it, the pretty and the ugly, and inadvertently I have generated interested around my book, not so much for the book itself, but simply because people were curious to see what will happen. I did crazy things, like shared my drafts publicly, even provided them for download; I gave my books away for free, forever, stuff like that. Whatever you do with your books is your choice, but I suggest you update people on your progress every day, that alone will generate buzz, guaranteed.
Your constant presence tells people you have your shit together. I did this sorta unconsciously, as it turns out. See, I can't function unless I have a very rigid schedule. My ADD brain simply refuses to focus. And that's what I have been tweeting, and Facebooking, and whatever. I would say things like, "Oh, shit, I'm 15 minutes late!", when it would be 10:15am and I was supposed to start writing, but have slid off the schedule for some reason. Funny enough, although people made fun of me for these posts, it also told them that I'm there, every day, writing, and that meant that I will deliver on my promises. This generated a level of trust between me and my readers, and followers, and simply friends who would check in on my progress. Because they saw these updates, they believed the rest of them too. Meaning, I'm never making anything pretty just to make it look pretty. For example, I got some 5 star reviews of Siren Suicides, but I also got some very critical 3 star ones. I shared both. I was excited for both. I haven't gotten a 1 star review yet, but if I do, I will share it! Because it's amazing that people spent their time reading and critiquing my work, that's worth gold. This again made people curious to check out my work, to come up with their own opinion. See, without really meaning to, I made people buy my book, or download it, to see what all the talk is about (a few folks told me they got my books because there is all this talk about them). The takeaway here is, be there, be present, talk about your process and share everything. People will gravitate toward you because you're simply always there, like an anchor.
Both negative or positive feedback are awesome. I see a lot of writers online getting pissed about negative reviews, or people talking negatively about their books. But the thing is, people ARE talking about their books, and that's all that matters! Somebody on Twitter told me, that somebody told them, that it's not the review itself that matters, it's the amount of ink. The more people talk about your stuff, the better! That means, you have to answer everyone, everywhere, about everything, be it negative or positive or neutral. I try to answer as many tweets as I possibly physically can, I try to always comment on all Facebook comments, all Google+ comments, all my blog comments, I even answer Instagram comments, even if it's just a few here and there. People simply want to express their opinion on your writing, that's all. There is no perfect book for everyone, so don't expect everyone to like your work. That's not why you're writing it. You're writing it to be heard, right? Well, if someone trashed you, that means they heard you, didn't they? Therefore, it's awesome. It will create a wave and more people will want to check out your book. I would suggest to take all feedback and all responses with glee, just for the fact that people ARE talking about your stuff. You never know, you might turn a disgruntled troll into a loyal fan, who will talk to 10 friends about your stuff.
Let others generate buzz for you. I see many writers being wary of other people approaching them and offering them all kinds of deals. It could be anything, maybe someone is interested in blogging about you, or posting a link to your book on their site, or whatever. If you have gotten any offers like that, or some others, you're always suspicious, right? Why? What will happen if you agree? The worst that can happen, they will trash your book for some reason or will demand some favor back (happened to me), the best case - they will add to the buzz! Here, I will illustrate to you this point on my example. I have one fan who loves taking my pics (I post a ton of selfies on Instagram) and altering them to pictures of horrible zombies (turning my eyes red and skin green) and then posting them on my Facebook wall, tagging me in it. The first time I saw it, I will be honest, I was like, OMG, this is me, so horrible looking, I want to take it down! The second thought was, no, this is awesome, someone is making art from my face, how cool is this? He was very sweet and asked my permission to alter my pics, I said, go for it, do whatever you want. Recently I joined a project where my book cover will be added to a bottle of wine (like a label) and allowed my videos to be distributed on FeedMyReads channel. Hell, I don't care what you do with my stuff, as long as you spread the word about my books, do anything you want! If I may be so bold, I suggest the same to you. While you spend your time writing, other people will gleefully spread the word for you. One shoe artist painted me shoes, inspired by Siren Suicides. That is so cool! I can't wait to get them and will of course blast pictures of me in them everywhere.
There. I guess there are a few tricks in here, yeah? The overall impression I get, after rereading my own post, is this notion of being open to people, letting them participate in your creative process, and they will love you for it and talk about you to everyone. That's all there is to it.