It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – and offer encouragement to other fearful beings. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and visit at least a dozen new blogs. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.
Since I’m relatively new to the group, I have been remiss by not acknowledging our fearless leader and organizer, Alex J. Cavenaugh (sorry, Alex). Here are this month’s co-hosts:
Heather M. Gardner http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/, Christine Rains http://christinerains-writer.
A few days ago Dr. Wayne Dyer died. I didn’t agree with everything he said or did, but I had a lot of respect for the way he believed in himself and encouraged the rest of us to do the same.
Dr. Dyer wrote 30 books in his lifetime. When he published Your Erroneous Zones in the 70s, he traveled the country with books in his trunk, looking for radio and other interviews wherever he could find them. He had a vision he wanted to share and wasn’t shy about sharing it.
We writers are often shy marketers. I know I am. Many of us are much more comfortable sitting in front of our keyboard than talking to people about our work. Plus, some of us have some old hang-ups about getting paid to make art.
My first book, When a Grandchild Dies: What to Do, What to Say, How to Cope, did well because it had a niche audience and I was able to connect with the Centering Corporation, an excellent organization that distributes a catalog of bereavement literature. This was great news, but it made me think book marketing was easy.
As a novelist now, I recognize it takes a lot more work to get noticed. I’m not talking about the hard sell here. There’s nothing more obnoxious than having an author blam me with BUY MY BOOK! tweets. I’m talking about thoughtful steps: taking time to get reviews and build buzz before releasing it into the world…then following up. Building relationships with people. Supporting other authors in our promotional efforts (I’m thinking giveaways here).
If we are able to reframe the marketing process from “selling” to “sharing,” maybe we can overcome the insecurities that go with book promotion.
I’ve run across a number of “how to” books and videos, some of which are more helpful than others. I’ll share some of those at another time. For today, let’s just think about how we can become “okay” with the marketing part of our work. Sharing our stories, we engage with a dialogue with our readers that can be deeply rewarding…as well as profitable.
Are you comfortable with marketing your work? If so, how did you get there?
I’m comfortable marketing my work as I separate myself from it – in a healthy way. My writing – poems, novels, plays, are of me but not me – if you get it. So I don’t need to be self-conscious with them. I’m not saying I got there easily, but I did get there. I didn’t know Dr. Dyer died. His early books meant a lot to me. I’d like to be in heaven when he and Dr. Sacks meet – what an intelligent conversation that would be.
Ooh, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? I just downloaded Sacks’s memoir at a friend’s recommendation. I knew of his work but not as much about his life.
Thanks also for reminding me (and anyone else who reads this) that the work is “of us but not us.” That’s an essential perspective to maintain. I appreciate your sharing it.
I love what you said about sharing instead of selling. Marketing is difficult and we don’t want to be pushy about it. I’m a big supporter of my fellow authors, and I’m lucky to have many support me too. It’s a great community and every bit helps. 🙂
In an earlier, longer draft of this post I told the story of how I was talking everyone’s ear off about When a Grandchild Dies. I thought I was being completely obnoxious. Then one say someone asked, “Say, did you ever finish that book you were working on?” I realized then why Coca-Cola shows so many ads on TV.
I really like your take on marketing. I will think about this, sharing instead of selling. Maybe thinking of it this way will help get me over that really high hurtle of getting novels sold….
I hope so! It would be a shame if good stories, and authors, remain undiscovered. I’m all for whatever works, and I hope this is helpful to you.
I’m not sure I’m okay with marketing, but I know it’s part of the package. I do what i know how to do and hope the rest of it falls into place. 🙂
Anna from Elements of Writing
It took me years to come to terms with fully accepting marketing as part of the package. I guess we’ll learn with each effort, eh?
I own a marketing company but when it comes to marketing my books and myself I am not that comfortable. I’m getting better at it and do know that it is about building relationships first and that takes time. When it comes to social media it is social media not sell media and those obnoxious buy my book posts drive me nuts.
Don’t you hate the Twitter bombardment in particular? I’ve not bought a single book that way. I am definitely more comfortable promoting someone else’s book than my own. I think teaming up and helping each other is one way to go (of course, as long as we like the books).
This post in perfectly in line with my recent efforts to conduct a virtual book tour. I’m also making strides to reach out to my local community. I agree that promotion should be more about sharing than selling.
I was excited to run across your blog yesterday about the virtual book tour. It sounds intriguing! Glad I found you.
Nadine, did you talk to Anjali about how she presented and marketed her new book? She handed out a bunch of free copies and asked those people to review the book, if they liked it, on Goodreads and Amazon. Amazon is her publisher so the book came out in Kindle form first. It hit #1 and still is #1 with 250,000 Kindle copies sold. I was one of her reviewers. Last night she did her book presentation at Liberty Bay books and she did an EXCELLENT job. I think Anjali was happy with her turn out and the responses. As… Read more »
Oh, I’ve been studying everything Anjali does…and taking copious notes! She’s done a great job with her launch, and I’ve already learned a lot from her. I’m not sure I’ll do a lot of public appearances, but we’ll see.
I have no idea what kind of marketer I’ll be once I get my book finished. I keep an eye out for things to try.
I’m learning a lot, and I’m happy to pass along what works as I go on. In the meantime, I’m glad you’re working on a book! I enjoy your blog.
The biggest shock for me when it came to marketing a novel was that I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. After all, I’ve been in marketing for over a decade, but fiction is very different, like you said. Thankfully, I had built relationships with people who knew what I should be doing and who were happy to help me. I have no problem taking the steps, but I definitely needed to be pointed in the right direction.
That’s so true. When I put my last novel out there, I couldn’t seem to crack the code. I asked a lot of people what to do, but no one knew. Thankfully, I’m finding some good resources that I’ll be happy to share in future posts.
I believe Learning how to share is one of the keys to good marketing because it opens doors. But that means stepping outside of your comfort zone and meeting new writers and bloggers. That poses a problem with our already busy lives, but it is worth it if we do it.
Thanks for the nice post.
Thanks, Patricia. Part of my plan is to look at ways to better organize my time so I am genuinely connecting with more people — in particular, writers and bloggers of similar genre and approach.
I wasn’t comfortable at first. Still, feel awkward at times. I don’t want to be one of those authors who bludgeons everyone. Time and repetition help.
Diane IWSG #95
Agreed. I don’t want to be that person, either. As I have looked for ways to improve my skills, I refuse to do those things that don’t fit with my principles.
I’ve learned to become comfortable. But it does make a difference if you are willing to champion others. They will in turn do the same for you. I’ve been blessed with a great group of friends that have spread the news about every book release for me. I couldn’t have done it without them.
That’s great, Alex.
I’ll take friendship over begging any day. I have quite a while before I reach the point where I need to worry about marketing, but in the meantime, I’ve met some good people who can help me out when that day comes.
That’s great! I hope I was clear that I wasn’t talking about begging at all…just being comfortable with the marketing process. I think when people associate marketing with begging, it says a lot about the state of book marketing these days. There’s a stigma, as though “marketing” is a bad word.