Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Marketing--Whose Side Are You On?

There has been a lot of discussion on book marketing lately among authors. Mostly just what works and what doesn't.

The standard things that work are what you've all heard before:

1. Build your writing community profile by having a blog/website, Facebook fan page, Twitter accounts, Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, or whatever venue you feel comfortable in.

2. Don't go overboard in self-promotion on those sites. No one wants to feel like they're being sold to all the time. Just be yourself and let people get to know you.

3. Make sure the book you are marketing is solid---well-plotted and well-edited.

Nothing new to see here, really. But then some authors were complaining about how hard it is to update their blogs, update Twitter, Google+, pinterest, Facebook, etc. etc., and still find time to write a book and wondered how much good any of that did anyway for their sales.

Here's my take on it (and I'm not saying I'm perfect by any stretch). As an author, I want to share my stories with as many people as would like to read them. In order to do that, I have to reach people that I don't come in contact with every day. The internet is a wonderful tool for that, but it can also be the biggest time-sucker around. It's all in how you balance it.

For example, I blog five days a week not because I'm addicted to blogging, but because I feel like I have writer/reader friends who come by every day to talk and I don't want to miss that visit. I also like the idea of helping each other through the ups and downs of writing because it can be a lonely business and having a little writer support is invaluable. Same thing with Twitter and Facebook. I spend a little bit of time each day with my "friends" and then I turn to my writing. Since my computer time is so limited with small children, I have to be time-conscious, but I think every writer should be time-conscious. Don't let the internet kill your writing time. Self-discipline is a must.

You might think it's easy to just throw out some self-promoting link each day (I see it all the time--Come check out my new book! Come like my Facebook page!) and there's never anything new. They may think they're promoting, but mostly what people are doing when they resort to that is losing potential customers and friends. If that's all you're about, why would I want more of it? Let me see more of the real you and maybe I'll want to get to know your books as well.

The one thing every author HAS to do, though, is spend the time to write something worth reading. It is ten times harder to market something that isn't ready for publication and needed a few more revisions. If your book is amazing, people will tell their friends. Word of mouth advertising is invaluable, but you have to put the time in. It's easy to think when you write The End that you're done, but revision and editing are your friends. Make sure your book is the best it can be so that you have a solid product to market in the first place.

I think book marketing is an individual thing since every author and book is in a different place (first-timers, seasoned authors, indie, traditional, etc.) and each author has a different comfort level with social media and internet marketing. For authors, though, these three basic marketing tools are the foundation of the "have to do" list. Yes, it can be time-consuming for an author, but in the long run, it is worth it, not only for book sales, but also for building a community that will last beyond your newest release.

As a reader, what do you like to see from your favorite authors? As an author, how do you handle marketing?


Debra Erfert said...

Since I can only tell you from a reader's side right now, I can tell you that I like to see your human side and not just advertising. I liked it when you went through your shredding weeks, and how you found lost money. ;D I appreciate knowing you/a published author have real moments of frustration, and of happiness, too. It makes you real, and not just a two-dimensional picture on a blog. If/when I ever get to that magical point of having a book published and start the marketing side, then I want to show that vulnerable side of me, too--like you have.

You've been an inspiration to me, Julie. Thank you!

Jon Spell said...

Oddly, I do actually like to see some advertisements, to know that my favorite authors have books coming out. For ones where I regularly follow blogs and stuff, I have a pretty good idea well in advance when a book is coming out. (For example, I know the sequel to Variant is coming out in October.)

For me, as a future-writer, I like to see that the process for established authors is pretty much as hard as it seems to me. I can learn from your struggles without having to go through it, or if I do, perhaps benefit from your insights.

As I get older, I see that I'm becoming less social and I really dread networking and the whole self-marketing concept makes me want to exclusively publish posthumously. =) (Worked for Stieg Larsson)

Jordan McCollum said...

Love what you're saying!

I've been thinking about this a lot. I think you do a really good job of reaching out to your readers. I'm not sure what I'd look for in an author's blog, because the author blogs I follow are mostly people I consider friends, regardless of whether I read their work. You know?

Emily Gray Clawson said...

Perfectly put. Blogging has been hard for me (as you well know) but Twitter and Facebook have been a must. I hate it when all I see from another writer is "book spam." I figure if you have to blow your own horn that loud then it means there is no one else out there talking about your book . . . and there is probably a reason why. I immediately unfollow people who do that. I don't want to fall into that category. I'm just hoping I can grow up and be a great blogger like you someday! :-)

Betsy Schow said...

Love the post Julie. i fall into your line of thinking. I got the book deal first, then had to start thinking of how to market it even though it doesn't come out until Jan 2013. It's all about being genuine and making real friends. No one wants to listen to a used car salesman. But I might be friends with an interesting guy that happens to be a used car salesman as long as he's not always selling em a car.

rebecca h jamison said...

You've been a great example for me, Julie, as I've figured out the marketing and writing balance. Thanks so much for keeping me on track with the Word Count Wednesdays. I love having that accountability.

Incidentally, I've enjoyed the marketing part more than I thought I would. It's been fun to learn new things and meet new people.

Anonymous said...

I'm always impressed that you are able to write as much as you do with little kids. Mine are on spring break and all marketing has gone out the window. Still, I'll get back to it next week.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Debra, thank you. Truly.

Jon, I can't wait for posthumous stuff. You have to publish when I'm alive to read it! Because I'm selfish like that. :)

Jordan, I do know, although I've recently been following more blogs that aren't friends. Yet. If you know what I mean.

Emily, can I just say how glad I am that we met that day? It was totally meant to be. :)

Betsy I can't wait to read your book and I know exactly what you mean.

Rebecca, Word Count Wednesdays have done exactly the same for me and I am so glad they help you, too. And that is one part of marketing that I love---meeting new people. I have found so many new friends that way. :)

Bridget our spring break is next week so I probably won't be getting much done either. Unless I can find a good hiding place. haha!

Thanks for the comments everyone! I have the best friends around.