Sunday, February 27, 2011

Even Vampires Need Good PR

So, Changeling Press is calling for submissions through 3/17/2011. Specifically, they want sexy stories about:
Cyborgs, vampires, werewolves, dragon shifters, cat shifters, aliens, genetically altered alien cyborg dragon shifters...
Ye-ah.  And I was having problems thinking up knitting erotica!

I'm not sure whether my problem is that I don't get out enough, or whether I get out too much.  Be that as it may, I have never given much thought (until just now) to writing an erotic story about cyborgs, gay werewolves, cat shifters (gay or straight), etc.  I have enjoyed reading stories about vampires (which are now so common I almost expect to run into vampires in the grocery store,) and Kerry Jones' Quinguard Immortals Series about statue shapeshifters.

But, too bad for me, I haven't written anything along those lines.  Now, if you have such stories on tap - now you know a good place to take that story!

However, one of the things that struck me as I was reading their guidelines, and which I have heard from my own agent, is, more and more, publishers expect authors to market themselves.

Here's an excerpt from Changeling's submisssion guidelines: 
A brief promotional plan, including links to your website, blog, journal, etc., and loops and chat sites where you plan to promote, should we accept your work for publication. Although we have an in-house promo staff, an author's ability to promote is critical to the success of any book's sales. You will also be expected to promote your book through active participation in the Changeling Readers' loop, the Changeling Insider, and our online E-Zine, The Cheeky Changeling, and other regularly-scheduled promotions.

 In other words, boys and girls, remember the days when an author meekly turned in a manuscript, and the high and mightly Emerald City Publishing Department did all the PR, all the planning. and just told an author:  go here, smile, and sign books?  (Me neither.)  And if that day ever existed, except in an author's fantasy, it's gone, baby, gone.  (Hmm, wouldn't that make a good title for a book or movie?  Just sayin'.)

This means, we've got to think about branding ourselves.  We've got to think about starting (and maintaining - starting is the easy part) a blog.  We've got to think about Tweeting (I admit, sheepishly, I haven't yet got much farther than the "thinking about" part, myself.)

We've got to recognize, that except for a very, very few authors (Stieg Larsson comes to mind, and who knows what they'd make him do, if he wasn't dead,) writing the book or screenplay is only half (or less) of the work.  Promotion is part of a 21st Century author's job.

If that thought scares the pants off you, if you know you could never, ever write a blog or go onto a radio show or do online chat to promote your work... Perhaps you'd best write in secret, and let your genius be discovered after your death.

If not, if your dream is to write and be published, in your own lifetime...  Cowboy up and write, then.  Get some critique - and try to develop the toughness to bear it, and the sensitivity to accept it.  And consider, during the times when the main work is stalled, for whatever reason, developing the PR side.

What have you written that could go to Changeling Press?  Or some other esoteric market?
Tell me about the weirdest thing you ever wrote, in the comments, below.