Marketing. Promotion. Tooting your own horn. The bane of the writing life--or a boost?

You're hoping to hear someone say, “I'll take care of that aspect of the industry. Your job is to write.” Am I right? Someone who will take the burden off your shoulders, tell the world about your book, make sales for you so you can spend your valuable time sitting at your computer cranking out the next novel.

Fugetaboutit!

I'm a writer too. My second Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, just hit the shelves. But instead of kicking back, waiting for Oak Tree Press to wave a magic publishing wand, I'm spending 10 to 12 hours a day at my desk. The only thing I'm kicking are the doors to promotional opportunities out there for the taking.

I believe in FREE. I believe in HARD WORK. I believe the only one responsible for my career is ME.

When my first book, FOOLS RUSH IN, came out in 2006, I was a novice at promotion. I did pretty well, but the Internet did not have much blogging going on or all the websites available for promotion. To be honest, I felt much of what was out there was a waste of my time. I had more important things to do than scour the Internet.

My attitude changed earlier this year. My New Year's resolution was to carefully examine cyberspace. I followed the leads as I came across them on Murder Must Advertise and other Yahoo groups. I used many of the skills I learned while working in a Narcotics unit at the sheriff's department, where I tracked down criminals by scouring high-level sites for clues of their whereabouts. The techniques I developed then became useful in an entirely different way now. And that's what I'm here to share with you.

I've isolated three key elements: finding sites, participating on sites and controlling the vast amounts of information.

FINDING SITES: Like this one! Once you know how to do it, you'll be like a truffle-snuffling pig. I play scavenger and check out the links listed at other people's blogsites and websites. They've done the work, why not take advantage?

PARTICIPATING ON SITES. Once you do a profile, you'll notice it's pretty much the same at all sites. I make use of my time by saving my blogs from other sites I post on and entering them at new sites. Same with information, my Murder Circle updates, any marketing I do.

CONTROLLING THE INFO. Once you invite friends, people start to chatter. Alerts show up on your email. The temptation to immediately check it out and answer is great. What I do is put everything in my “Sunday Folder.” On Sunday, I wake up, make coffee, then sit down and read the activity, update posts, invite friends. I don't rush the process. Sometimes I only address half the emails, but I am thorough. Then I go to my site list and color-code the updates I've made. April was lime green. May is fuchsia. Okay, that's a little OCD, but at a glance I can tell which sites have been neglected.

Making the Internet work for you as a marketing tool is the whole point. What authors need is name recognition and a chance to show off their “voice.” If you're good at this, people will buy your books. Guaranteed!

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