"...would you like to read my book?"
That quote comes from my friend Matt. It was generally said with a bizarre accent that I would be hard pressed to place (Matt does not normally have said accent). I'm not sure, but I believe the joke stems from the horribly long process of trying to get someone of import to read my book.
Funny enough, this isn't even a reference to "I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At," being released on June 1st from Hellgate Press (plug plug plug). The book in question was the first book I ever wrote and I am, in fact, still trying to find someone of import to read it (in my defense, I haven't tried in quite some time).
It's interesting that the joke will never be outdated. Even now, when I have a book coming out from an actual publisher, I find myself having to work to get said book into the hands of, well, if not people of import, than people who will review it, and ideally tell the world they love it. I have two more books (the aforementioned first book and a YA book) that I'm going to have to pitch to anyone who will listen.
And it doesn't just apply to books. I've spent years trying to get people to give my short stories a chance. While I don't write as many as I would like, I'm also regularly pimping out my comic book reviews at ComicsBulletin.com. And, of course, there are these blog entries, that I would imagine are hit and miss for most people unless they are me.
It can be difficult, in the modern age, to get attention, or even just get a chance. While the internet might be a wonderful tool for getting the word out, the sad truth is that there are millions of people doing the exact same thing, and the signal to noise ratio is not in your favor.
I'm always amazed at people who have online followings. I understand how some of them do it: become an authority on a very specific subject. But there are a lot of people with large followings who write about fairly general, mostly pop culture related things.
I suppose a huge factor is the ability to update your site on a regular basis. I have found this pretty hard, mostly because I have a) other writing to do (across many formats), b) I have a day job, and c) I have 4 separate blogs that I'm trying to maintain (well, I've been maintaining 3 of them, at least). But from what I've read, the best way to be successful with a blog is to be conversational about it, to let the reader have a glimpse into your regular life so they can form a connection with you. Which, I guess, is how you create a loyal following.
Ultimately, though, it all boils down to brand building. You have to roll one project into another project and do so by bringing your audience with you, regardless of where you're going. That's a lot to ask of people. Heck, that's a lot to ask of the writer. But it seems like a great relationship, once it's created.
I suppose that, then, is the trick: building your brand without becoming a brand. Building an audience that's not just for the sake of consumption.
I think I'll start by using a crazy accent and saying "My name is Kyle. I wrote a book. Would you like to read my book?"