Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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April 12, 2017

How to do the Publishing Hokey Pokey

I’m assuming pretty much everyone out there has either done the hokey pokey or been amused by a group of kids doing the hokey pokey at some point in their lives. It’s one of those rights of passage and some of us are unfortunate lucky enough to get to experience it over and over.

You put your right hand in,
You put your right hand out,
You put your right hand in,
And you shake it all about,

You do the hokey pokey
and you turn yourself around
That what it's all about.

The other day I was chatting with a non-writing friend about my upcoming book launch and the various things writers do as part of the “job” of being an author. Mid-discussion it suddenly dawned on me ... I’m doing the writer equivalent of the hokey pokey.

Stay with me, folks …

“You put your right hand in” … designing your website

This is the place many of us start. It’s the safest of the “establishing your platform” checklist items. And one of the easiest (although if you’re left-handed this and the next item would probably be switched for you).

For those just starting, it’s hard to think what to put up there. But here’s a little incentive for ya … years ago, an agent contacted me because she stumbled across my website and loved the description of my WIP. It wasn’t anywhere near ready but a year later when it was, she remembered me and promptly requested the full. Okay, so it’s a long-shot that an agent will find you like this, but hey, it can happen. And even if that scenario doesn’t play out, an agent will be looking at your website when (not if) they’re interested in you and your book!

Then, of course, is the connection with readers. I love getting emails from people who’ve read my book and then checked out my website to learn more about me.

“You put your left hand in” … blogging

For some, this is a no-brainer. For others, it’s a tough slog up a muddy hill in slippery shoes. Blogging is like doing anything with my left hand. Hard. I struggle more with writing blog posts than with writing novels. Every. Single. Time.

I put my blogging hand in, take it out, whine a bit, rewrite a lot, wine whine some more, then under threat from Laura, post it, and that’s what it’s all about. With a bit of luck, my posts are helpful and/or interesting (amusing?) to others, but after all the whining and complaining, I almost always walk away having learned a little something about myself.

I can’t promise that you’ll learn something from doing the hokey pokey (except maybe what body parts don’t move as easily as they used to), but I’m pretty sure you will from blogging.

“You put your right foot in” … joining Twitter

I joined the Twitter party when everyone told me that’s where I had to be. I still stick my foot in the middle every so often, but I always feel off balance and promptly put my foot back down and step away. It’s just not a natural fit for me. I know a lot of folks who can’t live without their Twitter.

The message here is to try. And remember to step back before you fall and embarrass yourself. J

“You put your left foot in” … joining Instagram

It took a while to finally jump in with my Instagram foot. It seemed like something more appropriate for my kid. But now that I’m in, I’m having fun shaking it around, maybe because I feel more balanced and that gives me the confidence to shake harder.

It’s quick but it makes me think. And since I’m a visual person, this appeals to me more than Twitter.

“You put your head in” … setting up Pinterest boards

Pinterest is one of those places that if you’re not careful, you can lose your head and an entire week (or more; definitely more). The more you shake, the more you find and holy cow, how much fun is that?!

I’m still getting my bearings about me but I have boards for each of my books and have started ones for various other interests.  

“You put your butt in” … entering the world of Facebook

Does anyone else feel ridiculously exposed on Facebook? Kinda like when your bum is out there for all to see? Yeah, that’s what Facebook does to me.

But it’s also one of the best places to “meet” other authors and readers and it’s the social media hangout I spend the most time in. My author Facebook page is still fairly new and there’s still quite a bit of cross over between what I post on my personal page, but I’m getting there. Despite being a reluctant troll, I feel more comfortable here than most of the other platform spots which means I do way more shaking over here (luckily for my followers, I’m not posting videos).

“You put your whole self in” … promoting your book

The closer we get to May 2, the more people want to hear about my book. I love talking books and writing, but talking about MY book makes me sweat. But here’s what I’ve learned, to play the publishing hokey pokey successfully, I HAVE to put my whole self in – there’s no skipping this step.

Yesterday, I was at a Barnes & Noble buying something for my son (okay, okay, and for myself) and got into a discussion with their senior bookseller (actually, my son ratted me out as a writer; I’m still a nervous novice). She was delightful and generous and so very excited, and I left the store with a bag of ideas (and books).  

I even have a couple of book events lined up in support of my book launch, which is a huge stretch for this Troll Queen introvert.

We write because we want people to read our words. And for that to happen, we have to promote our books. So here I am, shaking everything I’ve got, turning in circles, talking the talk, and guess what … except for tweaking my back during a shake and turn, I’m actually enjoying it a bit. J

I admit that I still bypass some of the “moves.” Not everything works for me and that’s obvious by the effort I put into it. Instead of falling on my behind, I step out of the circle on those. I know where I’m most effective and those are the ones I shake harder and pirouette like a ballerina.  

Who’s doing the hokey pokey with me? Joining in on only a few of the moves or shaking and turning for all you’re worth?

About Orly

Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy WritersShe is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.

Orly’s debut, The Distance Home, will be released by Forge on May 2, 2017.

You can find her on on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, or on her website, www.orlykonig.com.


39 comments on “How to do the Publishing Hokey Pokey”

  1. I hear you on all those things . . . I have tried, really tried to like FaceBook, but I feel so exposed, and it seems so in my face that I always wimp out and slink away vowing to never go back again . . . 🙂

    1. The time-suck of Facebook is what always kills me. It's endless and relentless. I still do it, but I do is almost exclusively on my phone so I can also be doing something else.

  2. Doing the hokey pokey and playing Twister simultaneously is the way I feel about the promotion side of this author job. Happy dancing, Orly! Congrats on your upcoming release!

  3. I feel the exact same way about Twitter. And if I weren't connected with so many WFWA writers on Facebook, I think I would can it altogether and stick with my blog and Instagram. Best wishes in the coming weeks as your beautiful book baby is out in the world!

  4. Oh, Orly. Thanks for a non-threatening list.
    I've started (and hidden) more websites and blogs than an unpublished writer should. I'm an Instagram novice, but I like Twitter, and I love collecting photos of novel locations for Pinterest. I have an author Facebook page on which I comment about the weather. One day, when I've finally written the best book I can, I'll take a break before I start sending it out and put up a simple website. One day.

  5. Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm on travel today but will pop back in later when I get home.

  6. Good post. I'd just as soon do several but not all, have to leave some time to write, eat, shower, etc.
    As for literally doing the hokey pokey: I worked as a therapist in an addiction treatment program in a prison. We always started group by having staff and inmates circle up and do the hokey pokey - it's impossible to stay in intimidating badass mode when everyone in the room just watched you do the hokey pokey.

    1. That's a great hokey pokey story!
      And yes, must keep time to write, read, and do those pesky life things. ?

    2. Hahahahaha! That's an excellent hokey pokey story. I have a six year-old so I have done the hokey pokey multitudes of times (in much less embarrassing settings). 🙂

  7. Orly, Great post, so well laid out that even a publishing dummy like me understands what you are saying. I loved the Hokey-Pokey analogy, and the darling photo. You're right--if you don't step into the fray, any part of it, then it's not going to happen.
    Time to get back to my website that's just sitting there, doing nothing. There's a built-in blog feature, so I might try again to use that. Thanks for turning the crank.

  8. I was already on Facebook and Twitter long before I published my first book, but I set up a FB author page as well as a second Twitter account using my pen name. (Jens Lyon is my pen name.) I launched my WordPress blog during the publishing process. I have accounts and Tumblr and Pinterest, but I rarely use the Tumblr and I find Pinterest confusing and not worth my time. I'd try Instagram if my cheap phone had a halfway decent camera.

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