Promotion for Musicians and Writers

"Buy my book! Buy my book!" - how most people's promo sounds.
“Buy my book! Buy my book!” – how most people’s promo sounds.

These are a few do’s and don’ts for promotion. They are universal whether you’re a musician, writer or both. I’ve borrowed a few of these tips from other bloggers, and some are based on observation and results. I’m still in a trial-and-error stage for promotion, but I have amassed a few, small successes since I started putting more serious effort behind my work this year. So consider this a review in a way, and not just an advice article.

1. “BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!” This is known as spamming. Writers are real bad with this, but musicians can get just as irritating. If the bulk of your promotion involves throwaway links to whatever you’re selling, the quoted phrase here is how it appears to everyone. It shows you don’t have a clue on how to sell, and that you think you’re audience is stupid. Go look at Neil Gaiman’s Twitter. Does he mention his most recent book? (Fortunately the Milk as of this writing) Sure, but does he do it constantly, with links going to Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Absolutely not. Gaiman talks about his books’ reviews, places where you can see him and most important of all, his fans’ connection with the material.

Another thing to remember with spam, is most sites forbid it and will disable your account. On Twitter it’s known informally as “Twitter jail,” but Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and other social media sites each have a spamming policy. The best method to avoid spamming is to not do it.

2. Pleading. Don’t ask people to go look at your product. Direct them to do it. Give them reasons to want to do it. Talk a little bit about what you’re offering. Explain why it’s good. Tell people what’s unique about it. Above all, do NOT ask for likes, shares, follows, retweets, and definitely not sales. Desperation turns off everyone, even the diehards and your family. People will do share anyway if they want to do it.

3. Ghost sites. If you have a blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, Google+ profile, Pinterest boards, Wattpad, Garage Band domain – whatever it is – USE IT. Often. If you’re not doing anything, your web presence turns into a ghost town and people assume you don’t care or gave up. If you can’t think of what to say, try some common memes like Throwback Thursday, or comment on the soup you ate recently. Provide something that causes your site to rise in search hit rankings, and directs traffic to you. If you don’t, you’re less than a voice in a crowd: you’re a wallflower.

4. Assholery. Being an asshole will get you banned, blocked, and ignored. It’s not hard to explain this one. Posting inflammatory things and demeaning others pretty much only works if you’re a conservative, AM talk show host. Everyone else has to act like a human being.

5. Trolling. This is a level above assholery, because it’s targeted assholery. Nobody is clever if they deceive people. Trickery, once outed, pisses people off. You might think you’re being clever or this will go viral, but it won’t. It’ll blow up in your face and drive people away from the product. Don’t insult people’s intelligence EVER.

6. Mum’s the word. Look, I know as an artist it can be tough to make friends, and there’s a strong inclination to maybe not go out and meet people, but you have to now. It’s part of your duty. That means you have to respond to messages, engage interested folk, and even go so far as to participate in group discussions and meetings with others of your ilk. Google+ has emerged as a great hobbyists’ site, so start there, as well as Twitter and Facebook groups. Inch into it and it won’t seem so bad. I remember a local band I liked quite a bit. So I emailed them to tell the group how I appreciated their music. This wasn’t a major band either, but one that had a good rep around town. Did they respond? No, and I lost interest in the band. While I still listened to the music of theirs I already had, I didn’t follow them as closely anymore. There could’ve been many reasons why they didn’t respond, but when you’re at that level, being aloof to just one fan can keep you from getting five more.

7. Homework slips. When I was a kid and didn’t hand in my homework, I got a homework slip. It explained to my parents I hadn’t done my assignment, and they had to sign it off while I completed it and got a marked-down grade. What I’m saying here is do your homework. If you’re a musician, practice. Know your scales and chords. Know how to play in time and sing on key. Know what a key is versus a chord. If you write, then know the grammar basics. Know how to spell and have good reading comprehension. Homework is also about precision. If you scribbled a bunch of answers without looking them up, you likely got a lower grade. If you do the same to your work, a similar result will follow – in the form of lost opportunities and failed projects. Oh and most of all, to get any credit you had to finish your homework. That means finish what you start, kids.

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