Yes, I’m still going on about platform building.

When I bookmarked the post I shared last week, it hadn’t been edited yet. So it was only when I read it all over again that I realized that she had added a companion piece: A more encouraging, optimistic piece about what you can do to promote your work:

Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promo That Actually Works — whimsydark

I loved the first piece and didn’t think it was negative at all, but I love this advice, too.

Both articles are good examples of my self-promotion philosophy. Of course, take that with a grain of salt, because I don’t have a book to promote. I could promote my short stories, but I don’t. I put them on my publications list, I tell everyone (once) about them, and I go on my merry way. That’s it.

But I have a visceral–and possibly unfairly–negative reaction whenever a stranger asks me to read their book, and I get an uncomfortable amount of spam on Twitter. I know the BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! promotion does absolutely nothing for me. Well, okay, that’s not quite true–it’s made me completely paranoid about how to promote my own stuff, because I’m afraid that other people will be as disgusted as I am.

So this all reads as very good advice to me: Make friends. Be sincere. Add value. Write.

I can do that.

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I’ve been harping on Twitter a lot lately. Which is surprising, because I honestly don’t use it very much. But when I do sign on, I always discover that more book-spammers are following me, and I have a good laugh/eye roll going through their posts.

So here’s another person’s take on this and… all social media, actually:

Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn't work. — whimsydark

Maybe it’s because I’m a lazy, shy person who isn’t terribly interested in social media, but I like that advice. A lot. Just write, and don’t worry about the rest. I can deal with that.

Cover of the Twitter for Writers novel.

Hotlinked from Goodreads.

My full review’s on Goodreads!

I’ve had a Twitter account for a couple years, and it never made any sense to me. Saying that makes me sound like I’m a zillion years old (and, well, maybe I am), but really, I’m a nerd. I’ve been online since the early 90s and I’ve gotten hip-deep in every stupid trend. But Twitter was a mystery to me–it was obviously not a good way to keep track of people or what they were saying. Everything everyone says goes by too quickly and is buried too fast. So what’s the point?

I ignored my Twitter feed for years. I used it to passively stalk agents. That’s it.

But then I picked up Twitter for Writers. It’s an exceptionally thorough overview of everything a writer might do on Twitter. It starts out with the painfully easy things–setting up an account, tweeting, and following people–but then dives into deeper concepts, like Twitter parties and automated tools. Best of all, it’s for writers, so it talks about things writers need to know, like how to promote your work without shoving it down your readers’ throats.

It also introduced me to some of the truly obnoxious things people do with automation. Did you know some folks use automated tools to force you to confirm that you’re human? Or to remove people who unfriend them? Or to create and send out tweets? Thanks to this book, I didn’t have to figure it out for myself–and I immediately started avoiding people who did these things.

This book is a little cutesy at times. It’s also extremely simple. (Though hey, Twitter isn’t exactly brain surgery.) The book is divided up into simple and advanced tips, but there’s no reason to read them selectively. They’re all easy.

If you know anything at all about Twitter, this might not be particularly useful. But for someone like me, it was great. I’m tech savvy, I just never cared about Twitter. But I get it now. I do. And thank goodness, because Pitch Wars (and now WriteOnCon) are both extremely Twitter dependent. This book was the kick in the butt I needed to get in there and start using Twitter properly.

Guys. I am so excited for Pitch Wars. So. Excited. I can barely stand it!

Photo that reads 'Pitch Wars 2014! Submissions August 18, Agent Round November 4-5. www.brenda-drake.com, @brendadrake/#PitchWars.

Hotlinked from the Pitch Wars blog.

Pitch Wars is one of those legendary events. I’ve never participated before, but I’ve watched people get super-duper excited about it. And now it’s here again, and at the very best of times!

Pitch Wars is an event for authors with 100% completed, ready-to-pitch manuscripts. On August 18 (just a week from now!), you send your query and first chapter to your top 4 mentors. If you get chosen, they’ll spend the next two months editing your query and manuscript in preparation for the November agent round. The agents then review the newly-edited queries and manuscripts. You can read more about it on the Pitch Wars blog.

So now–right now!–people who want to participate have to make sure their query letter and first chapter are ready to go. They also have to review the list of mentors and find the four best suited to their work.

There are resources galore. All the mentors seem to be on Twitter, where they’re answering everyone’s questions. There are video interviews with the mentors, too! (Check out the MG and the first and second YA/NA ones!)

And the timing is so perfect.

My YA fantasy, Justice Unending has had a complicated life. It was written, polished, and pitched. That didn’t pan out. After a great deal of reflection, I did some major restructuring, changed 1/4 of the story and one character, and went on a beta crusade. After being encouraged by a lot of praise and some relatively minor recommendations, I used AW’s mighty Share Your Work board to craft a much better query letter. And now, after all that work, I finished my last copyedits… last week.

My original plan was to pitch it next month. Obviously, Pitch Wars is moving the timeline up a little.

And I am totally ready for this. Here’s hoping for the best!

Here’s some more on that question that keeps haunting me: Does a writer need to have an online presence? So it was just the right time for me to find this agent’s opinion about it:

Janet Reid, Literary Agent: I love seeing evidence of idiot agents

Just like Create Your Writer Platform said, the answer is no. Writers don’t neeeeeeeeeeed to have an online presence, much less a strong one. (Well, they don’t as long as they write fiction. Sorry, non-fiction authors.)

But, interestingly enough, some agents do care. Some agents apparently will scoff and turn up their nose at an author they can’t find on the internet. Which means that there is yet another fickle little subjective detail that could help or hurt your chance of getting an agent’s attention. Hurray!

I think this bothers me so much because I’m nearly invisible. I have one of the most common names in the Western world, I share my name with a well-established author, and I am extremely private. I suspect I’m doing all this platform-related research because I’d like to not agonize over this so much!

Photo of the cover of the novel, 'Create Your Writer Platform.'

Create Your Writer Platform. Hotlinked from(and linked to) Barnes and Noble.

A month or so ago I was extremely excited to hear that Create Your Writer Platform was coming out this year. I love the books that come out of Writer’s Digest and its people! And while I love reading books on publishing, I’ve never read anything about platform building.

I’ll still probably get it! But now that it’s actually about to be published, I find that I’m less enthusiastic about it.

I mean, I do need a better Web presence. It couldn’t hurt to be more interesting.

But I’ve changed gears these last few months. I have a blog now. I’ve managed to stick to a schedule for a while. This lame accomplishment has sated my urge to “do something online that has my name on it.”

And now I feel less pressured to do something, my focus has shifted back to the other thing I’m slacking on: Submitting queries to agents.

So right now I’m just writing like a madwoman. Which is the point, right? Writing is, clearly, the most important thing for a writer to do. So right now I’m blazing through my book. 20,905 words now!