If you build it, will they come?

Today I’ve been thinking about marketing and advertising as I go about my morning tasks. That scene from “Field of Dreams” keeps popping up in my head–“If you build it, they will come.” It’d be nice if readers were like those baseball greats from the past who show up to play on this baseball diamond in the middle of Nowhere, Iowa, but corporeal entities stubbornly keep insisting that you do more to advertise. I don’t even know if anyone will read this post unless I get the word out that it exists.

When I worked as a grad assistant for Women’s Services at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, I was in charge of the programming and all the advertising that came with it. I did presentations to plug our workshops, flyers, posters, the whole traditional ad campaign thing. And there were a few times when NO ONE showed up, embarrassing and ineffective to say the least. Ugh, all that hard work for nothing!

The conclusion I’ve come to is that while I was wanting something from them (please please puh-LEESE come!), I wasn’t giving anything in return. The kiss of death when you want large groups of students to attend something! Large groups of anyone, really. What gets people to show up to things? It’s fun. There’s free food (not an option here). Everyone else is going. There’s free stuff. You like that person or their work, and maybe you’ll get their autograph or photo? In short, they’re offering YOU something valuable!

Takeaway lesson–offer your readers or visitors something useful or fun or cool. I like freebies and contests and swag as much as the next person and it motivates me, so why wouldn’t I give it away? So I am. Every month or so, I’m going to post free short stories on my site, and as I get things published, offer free swag or a free copy of the anthology or mag or book I’m in, maybe for those who visit and leave comments or get on my newsletter (when I have enough news, that is!). Part of me feels a little dirty using a carrot and stick to get traffic to my site, but hey, this ain’t Field of Dreams, folks. When I look at it sensibly, I can remember times that I’ve missed out on great artists and writers and musicians simply because I didn’t know about them. And that’s a shame, because we’re both losing out.

I’ll be posting my first short story on my website in the next day or so, and I’d love for you to swing by and play with me on my own Field of Dreams. Can’t wait to see you step out from between the rows of corn, bat in hand, and throw you the first pitch.

About Michele Garber

I'm a dark fiction writer working on her first novel and hoping to find others on the same journey for networking, support, and reassurance. I'd also like to find folks who are interested in my work and keep them updated as my short fiction is published.
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One Comment

  1. Hey Michelle! Looking forward to seeing you guys at the fam reunion and was hopping around your site and have to say I love the blog! (not that I got a swag pen out of it or anything – LOL).

    With respect to this post, I can say you have to sometimes be careful what you wish for but always keep trying. I once did some pro-bono consulting work for the government at a Native American College. As I am a Cisco Engineer, I was brought in to help advance their IT infrastructure for distance learning – taking classrooms from the colleges out to the reservations. It was a huge success and they are to this day giving 5 virtual classes per day (17 courses per semester). So while still on my high from it I was asked to attend ANOTHER Native American College in a seminar format to talk about the same. No one from this school read my background but instead heard I was from the “Federal Government” and was coming to “make changes in the education on the reservations.” The result was a packed auditorium (to my surprise) consisting of 100% faculty and the entire student union ready to protest at the “big government” involvement in reservation education…

    I cleared it up by my colleagues out there still chuckle at how hostile the atmosphere was initially…..whew!

    GO THE DISTANCE (and try not to get hurt!)

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