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Nonfiction
The Largest Conference You Can Attend
By Mark London
April, 2006, 19:23

The effective use of automated Internet systems can spread your name wide.
L
et's say you went to a writer's conference and there were a thousand agents, or a thousand producers, or a thousand publishers in attendance and you had the opportunity to meet all of these individuals. How many of them do you estimate would conduct business with you? How many would have your screenplay produced or become your publisher?

What about a book reader's conference of 1,000 readers all interested in the same genre that happens to be yours? What percentage of attendees will end up becoming a fan and buy your books at their local store? Bear in mind that there are other writers at these hypothetical conferences all vying for attention.

However you view these conferences, if you have written quality material, are just as pleasant to deal with as other writers, and your presentation is professional, then it all comes down to a numbers game. A percentage of the action at the conference can be yours to win. Competition is fierce, so there will be a certain percentage of losses and wins for you.

As the world of writing expands on the Internet - a vast source of information literally at the fingertips of all of attendees -- somewhat of a cyber conference occurs. Agents, publishers, and readers all use the 'Net to find what they are looking for. The big question is, are you in attendance?

The more exposure you have on the Internet, the more people see your work, the higher the odds of success. Joining specialized groups, sending emails to publishers, producers, and agents, using shotgun marketing programs -- it all makes a positive difference. But, many writers don't have a clue about marketing themselves without the drudgery associated with these efforts.

That's where automated publicity comes into play. There are easy-to-use systems that spread the word about your work. Some are tried and true, and some are untapped and just becoming writer-oriented. Performing a rudimentary search about online marketing is revealing. There are article directories, e-zine directories, and portfolio hosting sites.

With very little effort on your part, and a few hours per month, a combination of these systems creates a wallop of promotion that is gratis and easy to implement. The impact is truly significant when these systems are used properly to establish both shotgun and vertical marketing tactics. The key is the set up.

Where to start

First prepare an online portfolio that includes book cover jackets, bio, writing credits, links to other sites that have used your work, upcoming events you're attending, readings, and such. Those are the basics of a writer's site.

Next choose a host for the portfolio. This can be as elaborate as owning your own server or as simple as using one of the established hosting services such as Authors Den http://www.authorsden.com/ or Rose Dog http://www.rosedog.com/.

What to add

Make the site sticky so visitors stay and learn about you. An agent or publisher viewing a poorly designed portfolio may be turned off, so take some time before going public to think about what you want to add to the presentation that complements your work. A good idea is to give away a few articles or an e-book - the reader takes you with them and has the opportunity to really read your work. Further, if you let them use articles or share the e-book, you have employed viral marketing.

Of course you don't give away your moneymaking items, just items that pique interest and spread your name around -- for example, a first chapter, a first act, a how-to article. These are your electronic business cards. Such giveaways work well if you always include with them your name and a link back to your portfolio.

Spread yourself around

Write a press release about something that you have accomplished. Create a news-format article about the same topic. On both items, include a bio and a link to your portfolio.

Next, do a little research. Visit e-zine and article archives such as Ezine Dot Net and Article-Treasure. Check out press release systems, such as Publishers Newswire and 24/7 Press Release. Post the article and press release into the appropriate systems.

From there, sites producing public domain content can legally reproduce your article or press release online or in their publications, as long as they include your bio. You only need to write something short (600-800 words), and even if you do this only once per month, many people will very quickly see your name.

Some viral marketing systems are more classified-ad oriented such as Free Viral, helping you create an actual advertisement. Then get others you know in the writing industry to also place ads on your page. They in turn can do the same. Everyone involved promotes the ad page and a combined marketing effort is established.

Auto Surfs and Start Pages

Two other types of easy-to-use traffic generators are auto surfs and start pages. Both types of systems generate ad credits promoting your portfolio on other users' systems that use the same generators. After years of research, I've found the best auto surf system bar none is called AutoHits with over 2,000,000 sites per day being displayed. The best start page system is called TrafficSwarm.

These two systems create a shotgun marketing effect directed toward the general public including readers, publishers, producers, and agents. Review the information pages of each system to see how it functions and what is needed from you to make it work for you.

The more people who see your name, the larger your network of contacts and the broader your exposure is. All of this is free and available to you right now on the Internet.

All you need to do is attend the conference.
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Mark London is a Toronto based freelance writer and associate editor of IN who has been with the FWO-Int'l from the early years volunteering much of his time in assisting young writers' careers. Email : Mark London talktome@canoemail.com


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