April 18, 2016

When the Shoe Is On the Other Foot: a guest post by Melanie Meadors, contributing author to "Champions of Aetaltis"

Champions of AetaltisMore than three hundred years have passed since the fall of the Atlan Alliance, and the people of Aetaltis have finally brought order to their fractured world. Fledgling nations have grown into powerful kingdoms, thriving merchant states have re-established old trade routes, and the priests of the Enaros have rebuilt their great temples.

But in this time of hope, the shadow of an ancient evil has emerged from the darkness to threaten the world once again.

Discover a new world of adventure in this collection of pulse-pounding stories written by some of the greatest fantasy authors alive. From the vine enshrouded ruins of a lost jungle temple to the seedy back alleys of the villainous city of Port Vale, experience the thrill of heroic fantasy with these gripping tales of action and adventure.

When the Shoe Is On the Other Foot
by Melanie R. Meadors

As an author publicist, a big part of my job is to get venues where my authors can write guest articles, be interviewed, and otherwise show off their work. These usually happen the most around the time their most recent work is release, to get as many new eyes on that project as possible.

Now, one of my major publicity rules for my clients is "No push marketing." That means that while, yes, we are trying to attract new readers, we want to accomplish that by drawing them in rather than pushing stuff (in this case, books) out at people. All push marketing accomplishes, really, is to push people away. Too much becomes annoying. It’s a great way to lose social media followers. In order to be attractive to new readers, to draw them toward you, you want to establish yourself in their eyes as an expert in your field. And to do that, you need to provide readers with content. Not just any content, but content that both represents you and what your work is about AND that appeals to your target readership.

When I learned the release date for the Champions of Aetaltis, the anthology that contains my short story "A Whole-Hearted Halfling," I did what I advise my authors to do (and in many cases, what I do for my authors). I reached out to bloggers and scheduled what I thought was a reasonable number of guest posts and interviews. No spotlights, because while I recognize they are the easiest for the author, they are also the easiest for readers to just pass by in their search for actual content. I scheduled about fifteen. I thought that seemed reasonable. I mean, I've gotten some of my clients over twenty. Some of them even survived. I could do fifteen.

About a month beforehand, I knew I was in great shape. No rush at all. I would have plenty of time to write all of those articles AND finish the round of revisions I was doing on my current novel-in-progress.

Then, things started to happen.

Mind you, I'm very familiar with release-time...things. I mean, something inevitably happens. The author would get the flu, or get laid off, or go into labor, or...basically, if it could happen, it does. But I had prepared for this. I made sure I didn't have client releases around the time of my own releases, I made sure there were no other major projects going on in my house, no visitors. I cleared my plate.

But I couldn't clear the plates of other people, nor that of Fate itself.

A friend had some serious health issues. OK, I could handle that...it was distracting and worrisome, but I could handle it. I could still get all the things I needed to do done.

A client's release date slipped to be the same week as mine. Yeah, I can do that. I mean, there have been times where I've had three clients with the same release day, and it was actually kind of fun.

My son had his evaluations and we received his official autism diagnosis. We knew that it was coming. But I hadn't prepared for the emotional response I would have to seeing things in black and white on paper. Still, if that was the only thing that happened in that month before release, I could handle it.

My brother's family had a crisis (resolved a couple days ago) that lasted a week.

OK. Uncle. UNCLE!!!

One of those things, even two, would have been enough. I could have dealt with them. But ALL THE THINGS? No. I was not equipped to handle this at all. This meant that about four days before release, I started to write articles that were all due that week. And while I’m known for my fast writing and getting work done under pressure, I would definitely have preferred a less stressful approach.

And since I talk to my clients all the time, I thought I would try to commiserate a bit with one. “Wow, I have all these posts to do. And I have to come up with all these topics, still!” My client responded, “I have no pity for you.” I mentioned to friend and client Anton Strout (link to www.antonstrout.com), who is still recovering from some of the campaigns I arranged for him in the past, how much more fifteen articles seemed when one was on the writing side of the fence. “Hard to write your own book when you're doing that!” he said. I could feel the glare from hundreds of miles away, and I can’t say it wasn’t justified. While I maintain that it is important to get your name and content out there to readers, doing it all at the last minute is not exactly the best way to go about it.

So…Do as I say, not as I do. My experience has taught me that when I tell authors they should be working on building up a collection of articles between releases, even if it’s just four or five of them they can save for when release time comes, that I was spot on with my advice. Then they can send these articles to blogs and websites (or hire someone else to do so), and not be so stressed when they have so much other release stuff to worry about in addition to their personal stuff. The world is chaotic—don’t try to control it, because that would be futile. Just accept that stuff is going to happen and prepare as much as you can. As much as I hate to say it, whatever can happen has a tendency to…well, happen. Don’t let it get you down!

Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. Shes been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion.

Her work has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available April 12, 2016.


1 comment:

  1. Girl, I seriously feel you! I am not an author on top of the publicity thing like you are, but even just a delayed campaign can throw a serious wrench into things. A one-person business is a BUSY thing! Cheers. :)