Normally, The Writer’s Lens announces a book give-away on Mondays. Today, we are going to change the routine this week. While we often talk about techniques and resources for writing, we do not often discuss the 800 pound gorilla in the room—the business aspect of writing.
While writers love to talk about the craft off writing and the exploration of the written word, we often forget that we are not just artist. We are also businessmen and businesswomen. This means we are also promoting ourselves and our works. How do you do it? Is it on Facebook or Twitter? Maybe on both? How is that working out for you? Are you finding that you repeat yourself over and over again and your readers grow tired of you tweeting or posting your promotion over and over again?
I, like my fellow writers of The Writer’s Lens, attend writers’ conferences and we have heard over and over again how you need to be on Twitter and Facebook. The people telling us this are correct. If you wish to reach out to your readership (and dare I say “fans”) you need to be tweeting and posting on Facebook. You need to be posting correctly and in a way that retains your readership. While that is a kind of marketing, Facebook and Twitter are not the main platforms to advertise yourself as a writer.
Your books and poems, those works that have bled from your heart and soul onto the page are nothing but a nice project unless you can get it to market. How do you do that? There are a lot of ways to successfully and unsuccessfully market your work. A good business has a marketing plan. Do you have one? If not, you should stop reading—walk to a mirror and ask yourself if you are crazy—then come back to this article.
Go on, I’ll wait.
There are some great resources on marketing yourself and your work. At the end of this, I will give you some links to two of my favorite. When you work on your marketing plan you must begin with the end in mind. What is your goal as a writer—from an unromantic point of view? Here are some things that you should be thinking about when you work on your marketing plan:
What is your timeframe?
Your timeframe for sales is different for the novelist than it is for the short story writer. It is even more so for the poet. In this crazy electronic world, our works can sit in a virtual bookshelf forever. (More on this in a moment.) The fact is that the shelf life of your books in a bookstore—assuming you made it into a physical bookstore—is on a finite timer. You are there one day and gone the next.
As mentioned above, the virtual shelf lasts forever. Sounds good? Guess what: How many clicks does it take a casual browser to find you on Barnes and Noble or Amazon or any other bookseller site? How many other authors did they have to pass to find you?
With this in mind, what is your realistic goal for selling your book and reaching your sales goals?
What is your platform?
Do you have a web page, a blog, a Facebook page, and/or a twitter account? That is a good start. But what is your platform? What makes you standout?
We all have our own life experiences and our own voice in writing. That makes you unique. Unique makes readers go “hmmm.” I might make them blink at you. But, it is not enough. You are still a proverbial “wall flower” unless you build a platform. What is a platform then?
Many think having the web presence of a webpage, etc. is enough and is your platform. That should grow out of your platform, but it is not your platform. So what is it? A short version is this: It is what you are passionate about. It is the central theme to your writing. It is that element that peeks out of the shadows and shines a beacon to the reader looking for what you write. It is the thing that you stay true to no matter what you write.
Understand your web presence.
Your webpage is your commercial. It should be easy to read, easy to understand, and not be annoying! (No pop-ups, no videos or audio files that just starts up.) Your webpage is critical. You should make sure it is optimized for search engines so readers can find you easily.
In anything you do professionally, you should have a link to draw people to your webpage. If you read a blog and post a comment—leave a link. If you have a book out, is your link somewhere in the information about the author?
Understand the role of social media.
Using social media is often misunderstood. Having a huge web presence doesn’t mean having a lot of interaction in social media. Social media is best used as a retention method. People choose to follow you and stay up-to-date on what you are doing by reading your Facebook page or Twitter feed. You hope that you are giving these readers valuable information (that should always be in sync and tied to your platform). It is not a valuable method of having new readers discover you.
What do you give your readers?
Do you know who your readers are? If no, you need to do some major research! You are writing for them.
Our readers are being bombarded with new writers, television shows, songs, and advertisements. It is what you have to offer as a writer beyond the written piece that draws the reader out of their overloaded stupor to see you and your work.
What do you do at a book signing?
I am often sickened when I go to a bookstore and see an author who is there to sign books instead do the crossword puzzle or whatever. First off, if this is happening something went critically wrong with their marketing plan. Secondly, they relied too much on the bookstore and perhaps their agent to treat them like the next blockbuster writer and sink marketing dollars into them. No matter what you may think, the “if I am there to sign a book, they will come” mentality is not going to be successful.
A friend of mine is a dynamo when it comes to book signing marketing. She has giveaways that are related to her book and platform. She doesn’t just have her book(s) there to sign, but posters with the book cover, bookmarks, and other “trinkets and trash” for the reader to walk away with.
Why? Maybe the reader didn’t buy your book at the signing. They may have walked in looking for something else to read and only had money for that. But, they will remember you. They may use that bookmark or whatever and have a reminder of you. The reminder will draw them to . . . you guessed it . . . your platform.
Do you have a newsletter, ezine, or just an email you send to your readers?
There are a lot of ways to reach out to your readership. You should try to reach out to your readership on a quarterly or monthly basis, or they will forget about you. You don’t want them to forget you. You want them to buy your next work and be excited by it.
What is your exit strategy?
Do you intend to just fade away when your career is over or do you intend to pass the work down to someone (a child or a writing friend) to pick up the torch and keep it going. For how to do this latter, I would refer you to your friendly literary agent and/or your attorney.
Some links to people’s books on these subject that I recommend are:
Bob Baker: http://www.bob-baker.com/self-publish-book/