The Art of the Blog

The last day of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, Denise Wakeman gave a presentation on the use of social networking tools for marketing. This presentation was held Sunday morning, and many participants had already gotten on the road, but at least 50 people stayed to hear Denise.

Denise was worth the wait, the chocolate dessert at the end of a tasty banquet.

Her basic message is that writers should use the following tools to market themselves and their product, which some us might call our book:

–A blog
–Social Networking Sites (Facebook, MySpace, etc)
Twitter. (I know, it sounded weird to me too but she sells it.)

Denise started her career with blogs and she sees the power they have, but she has a good handle on how to use the social networking technology to locate your ideal audience. I learned more from her in five minutes about the power of groups on Facebook than I had ever heard anywhere before. She understood and spoke to the resistance many (most? all?) writers feel about self-promotion. Most of us chose writing because it is personal, one-on-one, and because we’re shy. On the other hand, if we have blogs already, we’re probably over that hurdle. The shameless self-promotion we see in others can make us feel queasy, but Denise wasn’t talking about that either. She recommends being genuine and helpful, creating an authentic voice, not just endlessly flogging your product.

As far as using Twitter, it doesn’t have to rule your life but it’s a way to keep your name out there. “If you’re a poet,” she said, “How about one haiku poem a day, for one month?” Hey, that’s a cool idea even if you aren’t a poet!

A friend of mine was talking a couple of weeks ago about how to generate interest in her blog which deals with literary criticism. I came away from Denise’s presentation with at least three new ideas for her. It was that practical and concrete.

When I got home I checked a couple of Denise’s blogs, just to see if she practices what she preaches. She does!

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