Discovery: Our Holy Grail

wears-chalice grail

Writing a good story, getting it as close to perfection as you can and sending it out into the world is the least of it. Promotion is the biggest challenge we face.

My advice: Be Everywhere.

This bit of advice is still theoretical. I have no results to cite. It’s only this past week that I’ve started to seriously push my books, crafting brief but information-filled headlines and key words and placing mentions on a wider variety of sites. So far I’ve kept to here and Facebook and my own personal (little visited) publications on Medium.

A fun image and a cute blurb do for Pinterest, but you don’t have the space for an article. You must provide a link to another locale. I am not eager to create another website, with a new look tailored to a new project. My solution for the time being is to link to the full piece on medium.com.

I just posted there in an established publication, having been advised that a known quantity improves discovery. I was accepted as a contributor to ‘Creative Café’ a year ago but never posted because I didn’t want to hand over anything that is part of a series. Friday night I looked for a way to submit to an editor for approval but found no gatekeeper, as is the routine with other Medium publications. So I hit ‘Publish’. I’m waiting to see I’m thrown out on my ear.

A drawback: Medium’s format gives you the choice of a square or a landscape image as the introduction to an article. I’ll have to think about how best to present a figure to avoid the opening peek being of the midriff region.

As far as Pinterest goes, to be exposed in the feed, I’m told you must post new content several times a week, and you’ll wait a month or more to see results. But each listing has the ‘You may also like’ section below, and I am pleased that when I open my ‘Maisie in Hollywood’ pin the below images are heavy with mice and rats, a high percentage of them in skirts and pants. So when people open a pin of Napoleon Bonaparte Rat, they may see my silent screen legend Marcelline Mulot. That’s encouraging.

I just sent what may be the second tweet I ever tweeted on Twitter. (I seem to have sent one to Dire Straits the year they were tapped for the R&R Hall of Fame.) Anybody on Twitter? What do you do with it? (In terms of promotion.)

My strategy (as always): Anything Goes.

I have my website (MyGuySly.com) with a few teaser chapters and art, including my paper dolls. I intend to have them printed, and to sell them on Etsy and Ebay. There is a sizable community of paper doll collectors (forty years ago, I was part of it). I may make a bit of money, and it is another way to introduce my books to an audience.

Common knowledge is that a series is useful in building a following. If someone reads one book and likes it, he may look for more of the same. Curtis has this covered. Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey got to where they are by this same route.

My methods (exploiting my visuals) may not help most of you. My main point is: keep at it. Try this, try that. Jim Webster posts short pieces on Facebook with art that he hustles off the web. His often centuries-old images pair with his text in marvelous ways. They seem to have been created for the story. I’m sure it takes considerable time to hunt the things down, but this is something any of us could do.

The big thing is to project a personality, otherwise known as a brand. My brand is Wise-Ass-Animals-in-Pants. What’s yours?

You’ll find my intro to a zany biography of the delightful Marcelline Mulot at: https://medium.com/@mimispeike/maisie-in-hollywood-64f0924b46f3

This week I approached a publisher in Maine that specializes in paper dolls. There seems to be only two such these days. Forty years ago there were several. Dover is the biggie, the one that publishes the celebrated (in paper doll circles) Tom Tierney. Their specialty is celebrity dolls and dolls depicting fashion through the ages. Not my kind of through-the-ages, no animals. Mae West, Greta Garbo, etc.

I got a graceful brush-off. Paper Studios Press is, like Dover, fixated on celebrity dolls. (Their publications are included in the Turner Classic Movies online store.)

Marcelline Mulot is the celebrity paper doll I can get into. Those folks in Maine have their niche. I have mine. I’ll keep chugging along my own track, under my own steam. Like I’ve always done.


Above is a quick mock-up of the front and back cover for a paper doll book that will double as a tabloid-size poster. The figures will be rodents. The poster in the upper left corner will read: Rudolph Rodentino / Marcelline Mulot in Secret of the Siren Sands.

My BFA in Costume Design wasn’t a total waste of time after all. I’m going to have fun with this.



14 thoughts on “Discovery: Our Holy Grail

  1. A Stump says:

    Thanks for this article, Mimi! I never thought of using Pinterest (i thought it was for crafts and recipes). Also, the fact that it takes a month to see results is good to know.

    I’m releasing a book (my first collection of stories) in August. I was planning to start pushing it a week or two before publication. Looks like I might start promoting in July.

    Thanks for your entertaining take on this subject!

    Liked by 6 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Here is the link for a very useful piece on Pinterest:

      View at Medium.com

      It seems that getting your stuff into the general feed takes a lot of work. The author just replied to my question about key words with this:

      Hi Mimi, the algorithm will take some time to pick up keywords, also there is quite an extensive selection of variables that will affect the searches, also new pins may not show until quite a long time. I would look at your analytics to see overall pins performance and figure out what is happening there!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks Mimi! Your story is richly entertaining and incredibly detailed with historic facts. …. OKAY, the talking cats & mice are your own addition to history.
    But I want to buy a hardcopy of this book so get it published!

    Oh, and, Adam Stump just shared this article on his author’s page.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have only recently considered Pinterest for promotion. I suppose the link could be directly to a seller for your book, rather than creating a new website.
    I have had moderate success on Twitter. 3 people I don’t know told me they bought my book from a promo I posted on Twitter. 2 of them loved it. I never heard back from the 3rd 😬. I guess 2 outta 3 ain’t bad 😂
    I think the problem with Twitter is that you have to interact a LOT to get any visibility. Also their photo tech is screwy, so when you compose your post, it looks like your image fits fine, but once it is posted, it’s only a portion of the image unless it’s formatted with a 16:9 ratio. Instagram is picky too but it shows you what your image will look like before you post it, which is helpful.
    I get more interaction on Instagram and find it easier to use, but I don’t know that I’ve collected any new readers there yet.
    I think I will run a new promo on Smashwords where I assign a different coupon code to different social media site so I can figure out which platform ads are working. It seems obvious, but it only occurred to me when reading your post!
    Happy Marketing 🙃

    Liked by 5 people

  4. victoracquista says:

    Kudos to you, Mimi! Get discovered through whatever it takes. Sly is a character worth getting to know, yes? I don’t know a thing about the paper doll market but I have wondered about merchandising and other ways to promote brand awareness. It certainly has worked well for Disney. Cat memes seem real popular these days. I wonder if Sly can be interviewed to share his thoughts about Mickey Mouse? That might be fun.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    There is no easy path. All these sites take time and energy.

    Investigating the fiction sites on Medium (I still think Creative Cafe is a good choice), I see others potentially better, but harder to get onto. One thing that I’m sure about, there is so much content on any publication that the title is super important. There’s so much content, how do you choose? You scroll until a title stops you. Yeah, they all say: choose your image well. But the images are all (not mine, of course) throwaway, generic. They count for nothing, to my eye.

    One pub with truly sublime literary fiction is allied with the Chicago Review of Books. Back to the hard-nosed gatekeepers. They say: expect to wait up to six months to hear if your piece has been accepted. The rest say a week or two.

    No, none of this is easy. I place my best hope on selling my paper dolls on Etsy and Ebay, and sticking up my posters in bookstores. Getting traffic to my site, and reads of my teaser that way.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    A NEW IDEA popped into my head while I read an article on self-publishing on Medium. I’ll jump back and get that link for you. Give me a minute or two. Tips for People Wanting to Self Publish.

    Here we go: https://writingcooperative.com/tips-for-people-wanting-to-self-publish-27ee2af1748c

    I’m going to publish, soon as I learn how to format, on KDP, the part of my book that I have displayed on my website. I’ll publish the whole when done with a final edit, and charge for it. ($2.99?)

    This is scary. What will happen to my chapter notes?

    Uh-oh. Kindle doesn’t display color. I can remake the headings with the same playful feel. The illustrations may have to go.

    I can send readers to my site: See the story as I mean it to be seen, with abundant full-color art and tangential silliness fleshing out my nonsense in a variety of ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mimispeike says:

    I haven’t read this yet, but here are strategies for getting going on Twitter.

    View at Medium.com

    I’m ganging links in this spot so I know where they are when I want them. I have them willy-nilly in multiple files all over my desktop. In one location makes my life easier. And I will continue to add here, even after this week. So check back from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for that, Mimi – glad to hear that you’re ready to hit the promotion grind. It’s a long, hard haul and results are very slow, but as you know that already, you’re prepared. My own approach, for what it’s worth, is to put the main focus on my newsletter, which I take some time and trouble over. Building the list is slow and sporadic, but I get a few more each month. Still gearing up to do some Facebook advertising, but not leaping in until everything’s as right as I can get it. Distracted at the moment by book trailers – not sure if they’ll be of any help but I’m having great fun making them. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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