Saturday, December 31, 2011
We've all seen it ... those really bad books that do inexplicably well simply because some marketing genius got a hold of it and morphed it into a 19th century regrow your hair! tonic.
Likewise, there are brilliantly written books out there that never see the light of day because the author isn't a marketing god. In most cases, you have authors who are indie, self-pubbed, or small press who go into publishing with the same mindset the rest of us had at one point or another: I'm a writer. I have good books. People will automatically want to read them, and I can focus wholly on my craft.
What most writers don't know is, without marketing, your career will crash and burn like one of those high school movie spoofs. The market is competitive enough with books that are highly promoted. Your little indie project is already at an epic disadvantage.
So, how do you market without being a Bob, you ask? (To find out about Bob, click here.) I'm still figuring that one out myself, but I do have a few tips on the things I've learned or have worked for me. Keep in mind what works for one may not work for all. Find your groove, and stick with it. The important thing is consistency!
Twitter has become my largest marketing tool BY FAR! It's free. It's easy. It's pretty much idiot-proof. There are #hashtags and RT's galore. Readers, writers, and bloggers abound making it easy to find those who share your passions. Twitter should become your best friend. Trust me on this one.
How to Utilize Twitter
Because so many people are on Twitter, it takes a matter of seconds to be inundated with quotes, and rants, and cheers in the timeline. For this reason, it's both easy and challenging to leave a mark in the feed. The good thing is, there's a lot of wiggle room to shout out your stuff, because it's going to get buried beneath a mile of Beiber and Damon Salvatore love before you can even send the thing. So tweet and tweet again!
Personally, I tweet about HAVEN 5 or 6 times a day, trying to leave a few hours in between. It's good to watch your sales, RT's, and shout outs to see what time people are online. Before 9AM, lunch, and oddly late hours seem to be my running theme. Yours may be different depending on whether you have more work friends or school friends. Teens keep different hours than adults!
Create a catchy one-liner or description to capture attention. A line from your book or one sentence from a glowing review works well. Also, the use of popular hashtags is a nice touch. #YA #urbanfantasy etc work well for those readers looking for something specific!
Last, but by no means least, NEVER, EVER, EVER direct message, email, or inbox someone you've just met saying: Thanks for the follow. Here's a link to my book if you want to buy it! This is rude and presumptuous and just plain irritating. If you're polite, 87% ( <-- a="" all="" always="" an="" at="" book="" check="" comment="" cover="" do="" for="" goes="" great="" i="" if="" interesting="" is="" it="" like="" long="" me.="" my="" on="" or="" out="" p="" people="" positively="" possible.="" premise="" reciprocate="" respond="" retweet="" sounds="" statistic="" theirs="" them.="" them="" this="" to="" want="" way="" when="" will="" you.="" your="">
Follow back! Seems like such an obvious thing, but for some, it isn't. If a fellow writer, reader, or anyone who looks remotely sane and non bot-ish follows you, follow them back. I'm not saying hop on board all trains, but blogger cars, reader wagons, and writer buses are win-win. You're going to want pals on your team when it comes time to get the word out. I can't tell you how many times I've seen promotions fall by the wayside because an author expected his 32 followers to chip their nails clicking away for free advertisement on their computers. If you don't shout out their stuff, they won't shout out yours. Try not to be self-serving, yo!
Facebook is a little more difficult to navigate. If you have a good base such as a blog with tons of followers, it can work well. For the most part, I don't have any sales generate from Facebook friends. Though I will say, friends of friends sales are excellent. For example, I get messages all the time from people I don't know, saying: I'm friends with your mom, or your husband and I went to school together. So, while personal sales aren't the highest, that friends and family bonus plays nicely!
How to Utilize Facebook
First thing, Facebook is more of a get-into-your-life social platform. Conversation is limited to 140 characters on Twitter. Harder to get to know people. Facebook has About Me, Interests, Photos, Education, Criminal History...
Okay, I made that last one up. The point is, heavy marketing here is just frustrating to people who haven't blocked you ... yet. In my opinion, it's okay to talk about what's going on with your work. It's okay to showcase interviews, blog tours, and giveaways, but no one wants the same sales pitch showing up in their timeline six times a day. Guaranteed block. Sell here sparingly, guys.
Also, if you're active on FB as a normal person -- i.e. you have pictures of your kids and you talk about watching underwater polo games all the time -- that isn't the page to talk about your writing. Start a fan page. As much as your college mates love and support you, they aren't nearly as excited as your book blogger mates. Confine the book stuff (that isn't epic news) to an author page. Keep your personal life and your author life separate as much as possible.
On this same note, if you do have an author page, a personal page, a book page, and a fan page for your blog, don't swamp your friends and fans by posting the exact same thing on each page. I see this often. Bob is excited to show latest interview, so he posts on EVERY frakkin feed he has. Suddenly, I can't see the bottom of my page. Now, I've missed out on Bob's life, because I've hidden all but one feed simply so I can stay in some sort of loop. I know it sounds backward, but I swear, posting on every feed is the opposite of helpful, and honestly, there's usually no reason.
There are countless opportunities to market! I've only highlighted a couple for now, but it's a good jumping off point. Just remember, be courteous and at least act like your interested in other people's lives. No one is going to support a douche-canoe.