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Wonder City Stories


Recently several of us were lamenting the fact that one can post a fanart on Tumblr and get 5 notes from close friends, and then you post a silly ostrich video or a photo of Carrie Fisher and Warwick Davis, and it goes viral. I grumbled about the sordid world of marketing, and [personal profile] heavenscalyx  asked me for tips about marketing Wonder City Stories, her superhero-genre book with an ensemble cast of LBGTQ+ characters, PoCs, and other types of people whom the comics genre tends to underrepresent.

And I didn't have a good answer. Other than plugging it on my blogs (as I am doing here), I don't know. My marketing game is not that strong. I understand enough to know why some things go viral, but I don't know how to make other things go viral. So I've been wracking my brains ever since.

Obviously, as I used to nag people on Squidoo wondering why their poorly-written page on the taste of cardboard wasn't drawing much traffic, one has to produce content that people actually enjoy and/or find useful. But then you need marketing. Otherwise your target audience of needle connoisseurs will never discover your needle in a stack of needles. Even if they catch sight of it, you need something that will invite them to examine it more closely instead of simply clicking to the next shiny thing.

On Tumblr (and Pinterest), photosets rule. So I think fanart, if it's striking enough, may help, provided people don't remove the credit line. But how often do people visit the links below the credit line of fanart for a story?  More to the point, how often do people reblogging photosets overlap the group of people who want to read, not look at pictures?

I just reblogged a Tumblr text post lamenting the lack of "genre books whose main characters just happen to be lbgt." I plugged Wonder City there, but then I got to thinking. The fundamental problem with using Tumblr to reach the people who want to read your writing, besides the fact that Tumblr users are savvy to marketing ploys and don't appreciate ads any more than we do, is that the most successful image posts cater to short attention span, whereas people who'd actually want to read a book are people with a longer attention span.

Of course, many Tumblr users are both.

So I was trying to think of some kind of photoset where words or quotes are incorporated into the set, because what you need is people who like the sound of what you're writing. And there's one type of image post that does qualify: Text Post Memes. Usually there's something famous like Harry Potter or Star Wars or Doctor Who screencaps or even cats with small screencaps of Facebook status updates or some onther 1-4 line block of text. Sometimes they use Tweets, or Welcome to Night Vale posts. The unifying thing seems to be that the text itself speaks to people in some ironic or true-to-life way, which is funny in the context of the genre scene being depicted.

So you could use quotes from the story you're trying to raise awareness of, slapped onto Utena screencaps or hilarious animals that seem to illustrate the quote. Have the caption be "Wonder City Stories" with the link.

And then cross fingers. Chances are small that they'll tickle people's sense of humor or sense of Ain't That The Truth enough for them to get reblogged. But at least that way you harness the power of images to draw attention to your words. And, just as importantly, you're giving people something: the satisfaction of the photoset, content which they enjoy and want to share.

More generally, the winning social media strategy is to have a channel where you consistently share a lot of the very type of thing your target audience loves. Give them nibbles of what they like and get them hooked. Use those nibbles to build a following. Include a link to that thing you want them to look at in your sidebar, and shilling it once in a while.  (This is how I've built up my audio Who reviews blog to a couple thousand visitors a month. Which is not much, but the target audience is tiny, and at least those who arrive read an average of 4-5 pages.) 

Problem: Building a successful social media channel usually requires posting several times a week, which a lot of time investment. It usually requires engaging with other people's stuff (e.g. reblogging), not just plugging your own stuff, unless your own stuff is as compelling as a photo of Carrie Fisher hugging Warwick Davis. And it takes time. Only a fraction of your readers will check out your work, and an even smaller fraction will be willing to put down $$ to buy your book. See the bad real estate pics blog. It's enormously popular, but only a small percentage of readers buy the book.

Which is what brought me to the text posts idea. It takes less time and effort investment than maintaining a blog.
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