This is part of the Bittersweet Book Launch case study, where Dan Blank and Miranda Beverly-Whittemore share the yearlong process of launching her novel. You can view all posts here.
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
I’ve spent part of the last week putting together an excel spreadsheet of “like” authors, that is, authors and writing peers whose written work and online presence I aspire to emulate. This involves, essentially, stalking that given author online: googling them, and clicking through every page that comes up, and making a spreadsheet of every example I can find of who this author has written for, what online presence they’ve built for themselves (eg Twitter, website, etc), and who has written about them or reviewed their books:
In the case of Jami Attenberg (hey, Jami! I swear I’m totally non-threatening), I’ve learned a lot. She’s got a big online presence, between her website, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. She’s written about her book extensively, but she’s also done something nice and tricky, which is to write for Oprah.com about turning 40, and Elle about her cowboy boots, and the NY Post about what’s in her library. On the surface, these topics don’t seem to have much to do with her writing career, except that they reach out to her readers and say “hey, I’m cool, and oh yeah, by the way, here’s my bio that includes information about my books.” I bet that snags her a lot of readers who enjoy her column in the magazine and come to her books through that portal.
I’ve also noticed a lot of trends in doing this research- many writers I admire have written for The Rumpus and The Millions, both places where I haven’t made any connections yet. So that probably means I need to introduce myself and figure out how to contribute to those communities so that, down the line, I can make a bit of a writing home there.
This work is not especially fun on the surface, but once you get over the spreadsheet aspect (and feeling like a creepy stalker), you actually start to find out a lot about where you might find welcome reception to news of your book. The tricky part is this work is never done; I could probably spend the next twelve days doing this work, and still not feel done. I’m definitely not going to do that. So I’m not going totally stalker crazy, at least not yet.