5 Baby Steps to Parading Naked

To market books, you must bare your soul. You must be naked. But people don't throw off the confines of proper demeanor and modesty easily. They don't burn all their clothes and then parade down Main Street or go to work in one day without a bit of discomfort.

No, they start small. Maybe unbutton the top few buttons and wear capris. Then it's shorts and tank tops, then skimpy shorts and mini skirts, then a one-piece bathing suit, then a bikini, and then they go topless. Finally, it seems ridiculous to still be wearing those bikini bottoms. Each step takes time as people grow comfortable with themselves and their bodies.

Same goes for marketing your soul--er, I mean, your artwork. You start small. You start with the exposure you are comfortable with. You start with what you can handle. Don't rush it because the nakedness of your soul needs to be natural.

1. Develop one-on-one online relationships.
Using those popular social sites like Goodreads, Facebook, or MySpace, connect with a potential audience. Don't use this as a means to tell everybody about your work. Instead share conversations, listen, and take an interest in others. You never learn anything with your mouth open. Those who are only there to promote themselves appear fake.

2. Meet the needs of a small group.
Start a blog -- not with a look-at-me clamoring but rather a let-me-offer-what-help-I-can generosity. People have a tendency to ignore the Look-At-Me's of the world. Use your blog to promote others by reviewing stories and other blogs, conducting interviews, promoting the work of others. Build a connection of people, a community that exists outside you.

3. Seek reviews from those with a small following.
"Hey, I wrote this short story. Will you read and review it please?" Whether it is good or bad feedback, be professional and let it teach you and make you grow. Apply the criticism to your editing process. Get used to rejection. Get comfortable with all your flab hanging out.

4. Offer generosity.
Contests. Rewards. Free publicity. Use your imagination. What can you do to bless others? People flock to that. People talk about it. You need people who will market for you. To do that, you gotta be more than a name on a good book. You gotta be a Purple Cow.

5. Seek reviews from those with a large following.
So you've refined your work. You've let the fire of criticism burn the crap out of your stories. You've studied. You've stripped down to your undies. People have laughed at you and mocked you. And people have praised you. Now it is time to peel off that last layer. Now it is time to take it to someone you admire and seek their review. Seek their word of recommendation.

Hey, I'm sure there are many ideas I missed. Please leave comments to share your ideas. Marketing is something I would love to learn more about.

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