Where Writers Get Stuck: Marketing

Before I get started on today’s topic, I want to express a huge thank you to everyone who supported my fundraiser for Houston disaster relief or gave directly to an organization that will help people in need. We are seeing the best of America coming through every day, and if there’s a silver lining to everything that’s happened there, I think that’s it.

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Now, it’s time for the super secret post you’ve all been waiting for. Remember this Twitter poll?

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It launched this whole mini-series on where writers get stuck. Be sure to check out planning, drafting, editing and revising, and querying or publishing if those are your personal struggles. While the poll was live, this comment happened:

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So, to wrap up this series, let’s talk marketing! Is everyone excited??

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I know. I can’t fake it very well. But stick with me. It’ll be worth it.

Marketing is a sticky point because, well, it kinda sucks. And by kinda I mean totally. Especially for us usually-introverted author types, having to talk about something we created and be excited about it isn’t natural at all. My alter-ego on Twitter gets it.

BW book selling

Add to that the reality that book marketing often yields weak results, and it’s easy to get frustrated and bail.

But!

There are ways to make marketing more palatable and effective. We’ll identify the problems and address each one.

Culprit 1: Marketing feels like bragging and that’s uncomfortable

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I created that image and used it in this post shortly after my first book was published, because that’s exactly what direct (that’s important) marketing feels like. It’s like that guy at a party who steers every conversation back to himself. Nobody wants to be that guy.

Solution: Work around marketing directly

Don’t get me wrong here: there’s nothing wrong with targeted marketing to an extent. It can be effective. There’s a reason all the cups at a stadium say Coke on them. Marketing theories suggest it takes multiple exposures (20, according to one theory) to a product before a potential customer buys.

However, a logo on a cup is more palatable than someone standing in front of the seats yelling “drink Coke!” would be. You can’t push all twenty exposures in too short a space, or the potential customer becomes an annoyed one who never wants to hear from you again.

But this point was about comfort, wasn’t it? The good news is by marketing indirectly, a writer can feel more comfortable because it doesn’t feel like they’re smashing their book into someone’s face and the risk of overdoing it drops.

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Participate in Twitter chats with other authors/readers
  • Weave non-book content (that’s entertaining) around book promotions. The ratio should be more fun, less promo. Post scheduling tools such as Hootsuite are great assets for this.
  • Interact on social media at every opportunity
  • Celebrate book successes

“Check out this amazing new review!” is an indirect way to offer another exposure to your book without you saying “buy it!” Look for ways to talk about your work indirectly, and be a real and fun human being.

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Culprit 2: Marketing doesn’t work (or so it seems)

I’ve learned something about marketing over time: it’s a moving target. Paying to directly advertise with newsletters (such as FKB, ENT, and Robin Reads, among others) might work well for one book and not another (genre is a big player here). Even with the same book, one strategy might work for a little while and then stop working so well.

Solution: Grow, adapt, change

Since I joined, Twitter has changed as far as book marketing goes. New algorithms put “interesting” content first in home feeds, and spoiler alert, book promos aren’t usually interesting. I’ve definitely seen fewer promo posts than when I started, and I’m sure it’s not because there are fewer of them overall. They just aren’t being shown.

These days, Twitter chats (such as #authorconfession, #espressoyourself, and #storysocial) and targeted hashtags are the way to get your brand out there. I participate in three different writer/reader chats, and in every one I’ve had opportunities to discuss my work and my process. We get to know each other there. Just the other day, I connected with a reader who will write a review for one of my books.

On Facebook, paid promotions work to some extent, depending on what you’re targeting. You have to follow their ad guidelines regarding % text or they’ll cut you off. If you don’t want to pay to promote (but keep in mind Facebook has a billion people on it. Just saying.), use high-engagement posts often on your page. More engaging posts = more engaging page = more people see an unpaid post.

Culprit 3: The writer gives up

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This kind of goes with Culprit 2, but I’m singling it out because it’s the big killer. If the author doesn’t care about the book anymore, why should anyone else?

The solution: Be persistent

I know some days it feels like you’re doing nothing but planting seeds that will never grow. But remember that detail about number of exposures? Think of each exposure as a seed. Eventually, one will grow. As long as your content is good (I’m talking about the actual book here), your cover is professional, and your blurb is intriguing, your book will sell. It just may feel like it’s happening at the speed of glacial erosion at times.

Talk to other authors about what they’re doing. Try new things. Don’t assume that because something works it will always work. And most importantly, don’t give up!

Have you gotten stuck in the marketing stage? What are your strategies for getting out of the slump?

btw – I’ve started reading the following book to make sure I’m keeping up with book marketing trends. I’m not too far into it, but the information so far is spot on. The cover image is linked to the Amazon page, if you’re interested in checking it out. I may do a future post based on it.

29 thoughts on “Where Writers Get Stuck: Marketing

    • Ha! I think I figured it out. You know how you can read a post from the reader but if you click on the title it takes you to the actual site? You can see it on the actual site but not in the reader. Probably has to do with the link I used.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I made the mistake of deleting my blog albeit for personal reasons in April, but it was building a decent following and now I’ve been convinced to start again it’s back to brick one, still this time I’ve not got moving earth as a foundation, firmer ground to link to Twitter and LinkedIn from. Yes I agree; these 3 are more than enough for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When the anthology comes out, I plan to have each story as follows: the title, the author, and then a link to your blog. That’ll help.

      (After each story ends, there will be another live link to buy the book or go to the author’s Amazon page, etc.)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I like your take on marketing; it’s a bit like writing about relationships, subtle, engaging implicit scenes so often more effective than explicit in your face stuff. And yes patience so necessary, trying to force the pace can make you look so desperate, I’m exploring the use of LInkedIn, I link my fiction related blog posts to it and Twitter and find I get far more views on LinkedIn; I guess it depends on your background and who you know.

    Liked by 2 people

      • OKay, sure. Actually, you hit the nail on the head a few times in this piece. One, it changes. What worked 5 years ago doesn’t necessarily work now. We have to adapt but so do the advertisers, and by asking friends what newsletters etc worked AND WHAT DIDN’T, what their story was, what their cover looked like, we can accumulate valuable information to prevent us from wasting $$$. That’s huge. Everyone should share info that way.

        Second, if investing $5.00 in a book can help you avoid wasting $25 or $50 or $100 in advertising next month, that’s a good thing, too. I hate to do it, but it’s probably smart.

        Liked by 1 person

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