Promoting The Digital Me

I’m an amateur writer. I’m fortunate enough to be able to make my living doing something else so I’ve taken the view that I don’t need to be paid for what I write. Publishers get twitchy if they can’t pay you – paying you is how they know they’ve bought something – so I sign a contract that donates any income to the Red Cross. So far they’ve been happy with that.

This is self-interest rather than altruism on my part. Not having to get paid is very liberating. It means that I only have to self-publicise to attract readers and let them know where they can find my stuff.

The self that I promote – Mike Kimera – is an internet construct. He only exists as the guy who writes erotic stories and contributes to blogs. It’s logical then, that his existence is promoted primarily through the internet.

More by luck than judgement, Kimera was born with a name that is not widely used, so if you google for him you come up with list like this full of links to his stuff. This makes him easy to find once you know you want to look for him.

I brought Kimera to people’s attention by getting my stories on ERWA and Clean Sheets, excellent venues that are widely read and have a reputation for good quality. Getting Kimera published there made him visible to editors like Susannah Indigo, Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Alison Tyler, Lisabet Sarai and Seneca Mayfair, who have been willing to publish my stories, and in in Susannah’s case, even to edit a collection of them.

Once Kimera had things in print, I promoted them primarily through lists on Amazon and on Good Reads and I set him up with a blog “Inside Mike Kimera”

I did this for about nine years and slowly Mike Kimera started to get some name recognition but I had no idea how many people read my stories or what most of them thought.

Last year, with help from the internet savvy Remittance Girl, I set up a website on WordPress for my stories: “Mike Kimera’s Erotic Fiction”

This is perhaps the ultimate self-promotion on the net. Vanity publishing of a kind. I invest in it because I can see the traffic I’m getting and which stories are being read and because some of the readers take the time to comment on what I write.

WordPress provides an impressive stats tool that lets me know that I typically get between 100 and 200 visits a day and that on some days, for reasons that I don’t understand, I hit up to 280. I know that hits go up as I publish new stuff and that the more regularly I publish, the higher the average number of hits.

I also know what searches bring people to my site. Last month, for the first time, the top of the search list was no longer “Dominance and Submission” but “Mike Kimera”. I was very happy about that.

The website changed things for me in ways I didn’t expect.

I had to come up with a visual identity for Mike Kimera. Not just the Gravatar that comes after my name but a look and feel for the site that sets some expectation of its content. I had a lot of fun with this and it started to shape how I looked at my own work.

I had to find ways of classifying my stories and tagging them to make them easier to navigate. This made me analyse my work and sensitised me to the themes that run through them.

I started to get comments from regular readers and I look forward to finding out what they think about a particular piece.

Once the website was up, I found my way to twitter. I’d never understood what twitter was for but I was intrigued to watch what Remittance Girl was doing there so I signed up. I discovered what fun it is to write twitterfiction live in little slices of 140 characters a time and I discovered that when I posted links to new stuff on my site, I got more readers.

Recently it has occurred to me that Mike Kimera now has a brand. People read his stuff with an expectation of what they will find. For the most part this helps me to have happy readers. Sometimes it means I disappoint. Clean Sheets posted “Sex With Owen” a few weeks ago. The title is perhaps poorly chosen because the piece, while graphic, is a kind of romance. One reader commented that the story wasn’t up to my usual standards and that he preferred my earlier, grittier stuff.

Which poses the question, what happens when I want to write outside the Mike Kimera brand?

At the moment I have two thoughts about this: I’m adding catagories to my website to incorporate the mainstream and erotic romance stories into the brand and I’m setting up another website for stuff that is too dark or too violent for Mike Kimera.

I’m considering creating another internet construct for this: Kim Remaike an anagram of Mike Kimera but more sexually ambiguous, with a less Western background and a fascination with the beast within us and what happens when it runs free. The look of the website is edgier and pulls on the erotic images (copyright free) of Egon Schiller.

The main thing that gives me pause is whether I have the energy for two internet constructs or whether I should just show people that there is more to Mike Kimera.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Promoting The Digital Me

  1. Hi Mike, a great piece to read. I’ve been an off and on reader of yours for a while, encountering a piece here and there over the years, but following a bit more closely over the last year. I love your writing and your style, and that’s part of why I’m writing now – to encourage you not to fracture your net persona into pieces, or to divide stories of different styles between them.

    As writers (I’ll include myself in the category, but as a hobbyist with much to learn), we all evolve, in craft and style. The stories I write today are very stylistically different than the ones I wrote ten – even two years ago, but they’re all under the one monicker, which has grown to encompass that style as well. My ‘brand’ is now one with more and different flavors than a decade ago. I think more is gained – by both the writer and by readers who follow – when that evolution is shown face forward.

    I did adopt a new more real-sounding pseudonym for publishing purposes, but the two are linked as the same persona. I’ll grant this may not be the preferred path for all writers, and some readers really won’t like it when you stray from what’s become your ‘standard’ style, but I think those that trust you to explore more aspects of your writing will benefit, and so will you, _and_ Mike Kimera.

    • Thank you. I really appreciate the feedback. As you know, writing is a solitary business and sometimes its hard to keep perspective. Thanks for taking the time to give me some strong points to ponder.

  2. I’m a fan of Mike Kimera but want to see the whole. For me, this Mike Kimera construct is you. You are you by whatever name or character you wish to create. I understand that this is just a piece of a real person but I want as many pieces to your puzzle as I can get.

    I don’t have your talent but went through this problem on Twitter. Some of my favorite Twitter friends should not be reading my erotic fiction…this is a side of me that I don’t want to show everyone. But I decided to show all pieces of me on Twitter…it’s an anonymous character that I tried to pull apart but it didn’t work. Now I’m Fallen Depths and Dark Echos…but it’s two incomplete pieces of the same online character. Sometimes the pieces need to merge and the incomplete story on both blogs needs to overlap…even the history.

    Your problem is different in that you have a brand now. Do you honor the brand or do you continue to build Mike Kimera and allow him to expand beyond your readers expectations? I want these pieces of you on this website. Surprise me, disappoint me, challenge me, pull the rug out from under my feet…it just makes you more fascinating. If you write to your readers expectations you’re enslaved and may as well accept money from the publishers.

    I want to write more but this is just a comment. I sincerely hope you do not break your writing up – then I’ll just have to chase everything down to get more pieces to the Mike Kimera puzzle.

    FD

  3. Thank you for this comment. It captures the core of the dilemma. The main block on my writing is always me. I can feel that my writing is shifting. I feel a pull towards the happy and the romantic. I also know that there are some very dark places that whisper to me and which it is hard to ignore – the current SCAR story is one of these.

    I think for the moment I will give myself permission to write as Kim Remaike and see if I like his stuff and whether it is distinctively different or whether its just me in a different mode. Once I have a story or two, I’ll decide where to post it.

    Thanks for helping me to think this through.

    • I understand your need to break. My Dark Echos blog gives me a place to wallow in my sexuality…it’s a private room that only a few venture to read so I have more freedom there to explore some things that shame me if discussed openly.

      Sometimes I don’t like Dark Echos though. Passion takes us places we cringe from if we’re…satisfied, or just not feeling sexy. Other times, I wish I hadn’t separated the blogs because they need to merge. If they merge, they merge on my Fallen Depths blog…if the thought is extreme it goes on Dark Echos.

      I’m going to be careful to keep track of your various personas…it will be interesting to see you explore a darker piece of your psyche. I’ll enjoy watching as you choose where to write a certain piece and how you develop your new character. But I’m also glad to hear your feeling a tug toward the happy and romantic…I’ll enjoy those blogs.

      I’m glad your on Twitter by the way…Do let us know when you have your new blog up and running. I’ll be subscribing to that one as well.

      FD

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