Yikes! I just read two posts on the wastefulness of paid-for guest blogging. The people who set up and do these promotional efforts for you tend to take a bit of money, you provide a stressed out bunch of posts, and readers get free books (at the author’s expense). Sounds terrible, right?
On the other hand, I just submitted an outline to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for presenting a talk on building your writer’s platform at this year’s Colorado Gold Conference. This sounds like a conflict ready to happen–me, a marketing person, ready to suggest ways to promote yourself and your writing versus evidence that promotional blogging doesn’t work. How do I resolve this conflict? Here are my thoughts:
ONE: WHY ONE-TIME PROMOS DON’T WORK
The hardest thing for my marketing clients to understand is that a one-time “big launch” promotional effort seldom works. Have you noticed that book signings have taken the place of book launch parties?
One-time ads don’t tend to work because by the time someone remembers seeing your ad, you’ve stopped paying for it, and they can no longer go to the publication to find your contact information.
I try to keep in mind the story of the tortoise and the hare. Be slow and steady (the and steady part is the important one) to win the race. Just like you don’t tend to make best-friends over night with someone, building an audience of readers takes time too.
TWO: KNOW YOUR READING AUDIENCE
Authors are used to asking and responding to that all-but-cliché question, “What’s your genre?” The problem is, while an author may understand what genre he or she writes, the author has seldom taken that as the jump off point for finding his or her reading audience.
I write cozy mysteries. I also have six sisters. Do you think that should automatically mean I have six sales? To me, not really–except that family obligations tips the scale in my favor sometimes. Point is, some of this group of readers likes cozies, but some like to read heavy, non-fiction books. Others like thrillers, some may like romance. I can’t write for all of those tastes, nor should I promote my book to everyone in my family target market. But THANKS SISTERS for buying and reading my book, even though it’s not your favorite kind of material. Families are great that way.
But as an author, think carefully about who exactly you’re selling to, and what that message should be for the people you want to reach.
THREE: THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL
Social media has made our world a global marketplace. And authors love that they can reach around the world with just the click of a social media button.
Thing is, you need to remember the answer to that very old marketing question, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. Don’t try to be a national or international star, when you have no local strong base.
Start with becoming a local celebrity before reaching across the country. And as for around the world? Great! If you speak a couple of languages and have contacts who can support your efforts in your new target areas. Realistically, a single person probably would have a really hard time of stretching themselves so thinly.
Over the next few months I hope to write a few more posts on author platform building. Won’t you join me? I’d love to hear your tips, experiences, and thoughts on how a one-person business can make a big splash.