Friday, March 27, 2015

Marketing is a Marathon

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson 

At every writer’s conference I attend, I hear the same thing. “I just wanna write,” says the writer when the topic of marketing comes up. Some people scoff at that; some laugh, some nod in agreement. I have no doubt at April’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I’ll hear it there too (have you signed up yet???).

That works in my favor because I just wanna market. I love it!

· I love chatting with total strangers about news or marketing on Twitter.
· I love participating in book parties on Facebook.
· I love finding new ideas for cover art on Pinterest.
· I love stalking writers favorite places to write on Instagram.
· Character interviews or location scout videos on YouTube? Love ‘em!

I also love blogging when I have something to say; talking to civic groups or spouses organizations and teaching writers about marketing. So you guys can write and I can do the marketing.

Wait! Wait! Wait

That’s the easy way out! I want to help you be the best CAREER author you can. And that means you need to learn how to market yourself and your books. You need to. Because people want to get to know you, not the hack hired to do it for you.

Here’s the thing. Not only have I been doing marketing and communications for nearly 15 years, I’m also a reader. A voracious one. Last year I had a competition with my daughter to see who could read the most books. I read 60. She read 68.

Where did we find out about those books? From people we trusted and the authors who take the time to let me know them.

Where are those people? In my neighborhood. At work. At school, church, and online.

You don’t have to market if you don’t want to. You can just write. But how will anyone hear about your book? How will anyone get to know you and care about you and care about what you have to say?

I know what you’re thinking: well, you, Jenny, you enjoy doing it. Yes, I do. But I can also make it easier for you with this little secret.

It isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to take up all your time!

Nope. And here’s why. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Start slow and build up over time.

Most people are told to build a blog, blog every day, Tweet every day, Facebook every day, get on every major social media platform you can. Go talk to groups. Sell your book at your favorite watering hole. Talk, post, photo, pic, video, chat, screeeeeam!

While all of this works in your favor, if you did it, you’ll be so exhausted you’ll curl up on your couch and suck your thumb, never to leave again.

So I’m going to tell you what you can do that is good enough.

Build relationships.

This is the first and foremost thing you can do to kick start your marketing campaign or build your author platform. This is how you get people talking about you and then your book. This is THE most important thing you can do for your writing career. Because here’s the deal: selling books is not like selling cars. Writers don’t compete with one another. They don’t. Think about it. If you like one author’s books and you finish her list, don’t you want to find someone a lot like her?

I read Vince Flynn, Nelson DeMille, John Grisham, Robert Crais, David Baldacci. See a pattern? Spy thriller, noir stuff. I’m not going to diss Nelson just because he’s not David. Heck no, I’m going to read them both because I love the genre.

So what’s the point? The point is to build relationships with authors just like you because cross marketing makes life easier. Help each other out. Build a support system. This is why you read reviews by other authors on a book’s flap. The big dogs are already doing it.

How do you build relationships with other authors? Attend writers conferences, writers workshops, book signings, find their blog, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter. No this is not stalking. It’s finding someone to make a connection.

I spent the summer in Alaska and while there, read an article about a hometown girl who just released her latest novel. Found her on Twitter and arranged a coffee date. She was lovely & we chatted for nearly an hour. From there, I found several other writers to connect with. Since I’m back in DC, I engage with them online.

Once you start making those connections, give them something to keep coming back.

It’s all about CONTENT.

This is where “Buy My Book” doesn’t work. Ever. Not as content. People know you are a writer so you don’t have to bombard them over the head, screaming “Buy My Book!!!” This isn’t to say you can’t mention it ever, you just don’t need to mention it often. Launch time is good, sales, give-aways…all that is when you need to bring it up.

But what you can bombard them over the head with is how wonderful you are.

So pick a platform… ONE of them. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Edgar, Google+, Vine, whatever and offer your connections something fun. They want to know you. They know you are a writer, so they don’t need to be told to write your book.

What makes great content? Think about anything you click on while scrolling your Facebook feed or flipping through Pinterest boards. Fun, interesting, compelling content. That’s what you want to develop. How do you do that? Well, you have to first believe that you are interesting. Of course you are. And selling books is about making a connection with you not the book. What do you find interesting?

PPWC Keynote Mary Kay Andrews is a huge junker and antiquer. She’s always sharing pics and info about what new thing she’s found for her Tybee Island place.

Author Mary Karen Meredith loves hugs and peanut butter.

Author Jamie Farrell calls her kids Squeaker, Peanut and Buttercup and shares their hilarious exploits.

The point is great content comes from you think is awesome about life. What are you interested in? What do you do for fun? Share pics, share insights, ask questions, create a game and give your reader something to bond over.

Leaving you with this

Do you need to do this everyday? No, remember it’s a marathon, not a spring. Slow out of the gate, steady in execution. So not everyday, but you do need to do it consistently.

And make sure engage with your peeps when they do post or respond to you. The reason Taylor Swift just hit the 52M follower mark on Twitter is because she is always engaging with her followers. She posts pics, replies, videos of their content. She makes the follower feel valued and important.

Sure it requires some work but it is supposed to be fun. If you aren’t having fun, it will show. If you aren’t having fun, don’t do it. Find the avenue that is appealing to you and then do it relentlessly.

Once you are comfortable with that one way, you can expand.

Next time we’ll talk about social media dashboards to help make social networking effective and a lot less hassle. I promise marketing can be fun, and you can develop ways to open up your calendar so you don’t have to market for hours on end day after day. 

If you’re going to Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April, make sure to check out these workshops:

Author Platform Building (For People With a Life) with F.T. Bradley

Guerilla Marketing: Skip The Monkey Marketing with J.A. Kazimer

“Tell Me About Your Book” with Alex Kourvo and Pam McCutcheon

If you aren’t convinced yet, find me online and let’s chat or even better, register for Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April & find me to chat some more. I’ll be there all week!

About the Author: With a combined 14 years of active and Reserve time as a US Air Force Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Lovett Herbranson has marketed books, shows, concerts and more. She is currently the speechwriter for the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency outside of Washington DC. In her spare time, she is pursuing a career as a fiction writer. Find her at:


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