Saturday, July 28, 2012

The New Book Marketing

This summer, I learned that all those clichés that made me afraid of marketing were way off.

The following myths can be true, if you want them to be. They are valid perspectives to take, and some of them aren’t bad at all. I just happen to not like them. Because of my personality, they won’t describe my approach to marketing.

The alternatives I explain after each aren’t the only way to do things either. They’re just the ways that I want to do things.

Obviously, all of this is easier said than done . . . but if I’m determined enough to get them done, I think I can follow through. The strategy behind marketing is just as important as the various methods you use. This is mine.

Myth 1: Sell yourself.

This implies that it’s all about me, that I’m going to focus all the attention on myself and what I’m writing so everyone can make me famous.

When, actually, really good marketing is about other people and what their needs and wants are. It’s about having more opportunities for me to deliver on those needs and wants. When you choose to look at it that way, it’s less about promoting yourself and more about serving others.

Everyone I’ve talked to about marketing mentions that with the rise of social media, readers want to feel a personal connection to the authors they love. Writers who think it’s all about them will post irrelevant, self-focused ramblings and will probably come off as arrogant. Writers who understand the relationship aspect will be much more successful.

Myth 2: “Marketing is convincing people that they need something they don’t need.”

I heard this one this summer from a skeptic. Obviously, this can be true, and it’s the approach that a lot of people take.

It’s one I really want to avoid.

Over the next month, I’m going to be trying a lot of marketing-related things. Some of it you’ll never see—I’m going to write some devotionals and short stories to get my byline and books mentioned in kids’ magazines, for example—and others you will. (My website is almost ready for public viewing, I’m planning to start a Twitter account, and so on.)

Please feel free to ignore anything you’re not interested in. I’m going to try not to inundate my family and Facebook friends with requests to “like” this or read that or follow this. I feel like that would only make other people resent me (and I might even start getting annoyed with myself).

Also, I want to provide actual content for people that they wouldn’t get otherwise, whether that means personal interaction via Facebook or blog posts with a point or “extras” on the website that I put a lot of time into creating.

Myth 3: Social media will take over your life.
Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, website, Pinterest, press releases, book signings, blog tours . . . will it never end?

Yes. If you set limits and draw boundary lines, it will, in fact, end. All of these platforms are run by machines that you can turn off. It’s not like they have minds of their own and will force you at gunpoint to promote until you have no free time for writing . . . or other people.

That’s what I keep reminding myself, because, at times, all of these new technologies and platforms can scare me.

Prioritize. Schedule. Don’t obsess. Use the tools without letting them use you.
Obviously, I’m new to this whole marketing deal. It’s an adventure, and I’m mildly terrified, because it’s nothing I’m familiar with yet.

But I’m up for trying and learning a few lessons along the way.

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