Self-Promotion Makes Me Nauseous: Or how to get your work out there for new artists 101 ~ Rachael Ikins
Whether you are Angelina Jolie touring for her film. "Maleficent" or Bruce DeSilva speaking in Houston for his new novel "Providence Rag" or a sort of nameless but excellent poet who has a scheduled feature at a local coffee house, we as artists are producing a commodity that we must turn around and sell, like it or not. Stephen King used to host Halloween parties in his home and camping trips with him telling ghost stories arond the bonfire. Nobody is exempt.
When a publisher or producer decides to take a gamble on your submission, they will invest time and money, counting on your product to earn their money back and then some. In this modern internet era, self-marketing and promotion for the "starving" artist/poet has much more potential than ever before. You can do it without investing money. You do have to invest some time, but even that is nothing compared to the old days when networking was done face-to-face, in telephone conversations and on tree-ware. (Tree-ware is a term meaning books, and newspaper or anything on paper.)
I'd like to cite the following current, true story as an example of how multiple artists combined forces, and all of them are benefiting from it in a promotional way.
I received a Facebook post one day of a new painting by an artist I really admire. It so moved me I dropped what I was doing, sat down and worked for 3 hours on an Ekphrastic poem (a poem inspired by another art form). When it was sort-of polished, I messaged it to the artist privately, just because. A few days later, I received a wonderful message back. He really loved the poem as much as I loved his painting.
Soon enough a friend in another city posted on my FaceBook timeline a publication link to a journal that looks for poetry inspired by paintings. Most of the examples I saw when I read their publication were paintings by “Dead White Guys" to quote a wonderfully irreverent member of a recent poetry workshop I attended. How marvelous, then, I thought, to submit a poem AND to be inspired by a living, working artist as well. First off, I messaged the artist to get permission to use his painting. He gave it. Next I submitted. The waiting began.
Back track a few years to one of my early readings. I joined my first adult writing group at a small library. In that group I met my friend who is a photographer. We remain good friends and somewhere along our journey I asked her to be my publicity photographer. It is her hobby, but she was flattered and said "yes."
Back to present day. We were accepted! The editor of the journal is using, as my bio shot, a picture my photographer buddy snapped. It has her signature on it. So when this journal entry goes live, not one, but three artists are going to benefit from it: myself, the artist, and this photographer.
I've already posted a "thank you" to the far away friend who sent the market in the first place. Courtesy is always fashionable. Second, when the journal issue is online, I will share it onto my FaceBook timeline as well as onto my art and writing walls. If you don't have a separate one for your arts, make one. I will Tweet it. Instagram and Pinterest it if possible. I'm hopeful the artist and photographer will do this as well. I will share it on my own blog and hopefully the photographer will re-blog it. Every time someone re-blogs I will "like" it. Hopefully all our followers will "like" things as well, as they appear. If someone has a story/book on Amazon and you read and enjoyed it, take a few seconds on Amazon to post a review. Ask a friend to do the same for you. If you blog, host guest bloggers. Submit to blog on someone else's blog.
Another show and reading I juried into needed a caterer. The budget was limited. I have a friend who is working hard to succeed as a caterer. Her husband died last year and they no longer have their restaurant. She got the job. Not a crumb of food remained after this event.
Self-promotion is not about sounding like an obnoxious TV ad. For me it is about raising consciousness, about karma and paying it forward. Yes, I want to make money at my arts. One way to bring more attention and hopefully bucks, is to do a good turn along the way, include someone else. If someone you know has a success, don't be jealous, “like" it. Maybe down the road some of their followers are going to "like" something you post or even notice you for the seconds it took you to do the act.
Of course, once your submission goes live, the journal is going to benefit, too. Just from my "shares" alone, in the example I cited, it will be seen around the globe. I took pictures of the food at that catered show and shared them, too.
That is my philosophy on marketing my work in a nutshell. It goes without saying that the work must be excellent to begin with. Don't just think of yourself. Think of others. Go to friends' shows and readings when possible just to offer moral support. Give a nod to someone else and you will, for sure, build your fan base or readership. I like to say it is a big cold world out there and artists and writers should help each other along as best we can. It is much more rewarding than trampling the other guy as you claw your way to the top.
Rachael Ikins is a prize winning author/artist from NY's Fingerlakes region.