Monday, February 10, 2014

The Marketing Maze


Photo courtesy of James Barker /
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s that word. Marketing. Perhaps you prefer the expression promotional activity. Either one will often have a dramatic effect on an author’s demeanour. Some of us will smile and gladly share all the great activities we’re undertaking. For others of us, it can be like one’s worst nightmare: “You mean I have to leave my little comfy writing space to do what?”

I probably fall into a camp somewhere in the middle but with a leaning to the latter.

Angelguard was released almost a year ago in the US. I’ve learnt numerous lessons over the course of the year, many of which I’d group under the banner of Marketing. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

You’re in charge

“Whether we like it not we have to take responsibility for marketing our books.”

I’m not sure who said that first but it’s true. Even though I’ve read that statement many times it’s probably only in recent times that I’ve accepted it. And in so doing, all of a sudden marketing doesn’t appear so demanding.

Many of us struggle sharing our work with others. I do. We think we might be imposing or being pushy.  I wanted people who read the novel to encourage others to read it. Post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and so on.

I also realised I feared being judged or criticised. What about if people don't like it? It’s okay. The emails from readers, the constructive reviews and this simple text message from a dear friend who said, “Thank you for reminding me of the power of prayer,” have far outweighed any negatives.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. (Marianne Williamson)

And with God inside us, we are.

Build your tribe early

Really early. It’s never early enough. I didn’t do this well.

“Tribes give you leverage” as Seth Godin states in his great little book “Tribes”. This is a group of people who are interested in you and your work in such a way they will help promote your work. Don't wait for when you've signed the publishing contract. Start now.

It goes without saying that in building our tribe we need to understand our target audience. Yes, this is very important.

Have a plan

“What gets scheduled gets done.”

We all know that. It’s the same with marketing. My marketing plan was loose and I could have done a much better job in scheduling specific activities.

Be proactive

Don’t wait for things to happen. Work the plan. Write the email to that bigwig you’ve been putting off for months. You might be surprised with how they respond. The worst they can say is “thanks but no thanks”.

Trial and error

Different things work for different people. You will have noticed some authors are great at Facebook, others better at guest blogging, others on the speaking circuit and so on. Try different things and realise many, some might even say most, won’t work. What are you good at? What do you enjoy? Where do your readers congregate, what do they enjoy, etc? All these answers are important in determining your own plan. Each author’s answers will be different.

There are many books out now on Marketing 101 for authors (it’s almost become it’s own genre there are so many of them!). A number of bloggers write extensively on it too. Read some of them. I’ve appreciated Michael Hyatt’s “Platform” and Joanna Penn’s “How to Market a Book”. Our friend, Iola Goulton has recently reviewed many of them. Pop on over to Iola’s Editing site and check out her reviews.

Keep producing content

The most common question I get from readers is “so when can we expect the next one?” Readers mostly want our content. It's the best marketing tool we have in our kitbag. I’m always amazed at the productivity of so many authors who are releasing new novels every 6 months or so. Besides having cracked the code for producing a book, they’ve also discovered the formula for generating a reasonable income stream from their writing.

Some authors also do a great job of sharing additional content on their blogs such as deleted scenes, interviews with their characters. One of the great aspects of the e-book revolution is it can provide a platform for authors to produce shorter content (than a full novel). I’m looking to explore some of these options this year.

Have fun

Enjoy it. Even if through gritted teeth. The relationships you build with some of your readers will be very special.

And remember, it’s never too late. A book, especially a novel, can live well beyond the initial launch. The e-book revolution has only enhanced certain books longevity.

Keep plugging away. As with most things in life, the more we do something, the easier it gets or the more comfortable we become in tackling them. I’m hoping that also applies to marketing.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NIV)

Keep praying and believing. God is into the small stuff as well as the big. Walk with Him as you tackle the marketing maze. You might be surprised as to the divine appointments He sets up for you.

What’s surprised you most about the marketing maze?




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

18 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Ian, and thanks for the shout-out.

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    1. Thanks Iola. I'm hoping to get to "Let's Get Visible" shortly. Will let you know what I think.

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  2. A great post Ian. Thanks for sharing your insights through your own marketing journey. There are a lot of great tips there. I'm working on my first novel and you've already prompted me to think about my tribe :) Good luck with all of your ventures for this year.

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    1. Thanks Nola, do watch what other authors are doing too. But be Nola and don't let it intimidate you as you don't need to have all the answers.

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  3. Hi Ian,
    That's great advice. I'm in the middle of doing lots of this for my new release in April. I've put together a bit of a tribe, comprised of Aussies, Kiwis and Americans. We have so many online opportunities to do so these days. Have fun, even if you grit your teeth. I like that.

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    1. Hi Paula, sounds like you're making good progress. Great you've already got members from around the globe. Good luck and don't put too much pressure on yourself.

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  4. Thanks Ian for that great post. Marketing and I are not good friends unfortunately! I give away more books than I sell them. Sigh! Sol thanks for waking me up. I shall try to be more proactive and even enjoy it! :) A needed reminder - definitely! Many thanks!

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    1. Oh Anusha, I've love giving books away too. I figure it's like planting good seed. That seed will bear fruit one day but maybe in ways I wasn't expecting like that text message I referred to above.

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  5. Thanks, Ian, for your very wise thoughts re the marketing maze. I agree in particular with your point that we need to find what works best for us and what we enjoy doing most in this whole marketing area, then go for it. I love speaking, so that's my strength. But it doesn't mean others have to be the same. And re your question about what has surprised me most about this marketing maze, I think I would say, as you seem to have discovered too, that it's the little God moments' along the way when you get into conversation with someone at a bookstore signing or when you get to pray with someone after you have spoken somewhere. In other words, the little moments that are insignificant as far as selling books go, but infinitely significant as far as God's kingdom is concerned!

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    1. Wow, oh Jo-Anne, love that. But you wouldn't have had those opportunities unless you'd gotten out there and mixed it with people! How'd Saturday go, BTW?

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    2. It was great mixing with other authors I hadn't as yet had the opportunity to meet and seeing how we encouraged one another. Not so great as a book selling opportunity, as it turned out, because there simply were fewer customers around that day, plus there were eight authors all promoting their books! Again though, I loved those special God moments along the way--I have just written about them in my own blog today (www.jo-anneberthelsen.wordpress.com).

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    3. Jo-Anne, thank you for sharing those God moments.

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  6. Thanks for the practical advice. I like your perspective as it isn't just about selling a product but interacting with people.

    Praying you continue to have great success.

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    1. Thanks Elaine. Jo-Anne in her comment above shares the power of some of those interactions. Priceless.

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  7. Thanks for this article. There are some great tips here, especially as I'm about to start my book promotion journey.

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    1. Enjoy the journey, Melissa. It'll be fun.

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  8. A very well thought out and helpful article, Ian, and interesting comments. I haven't anything much to add to what's been written, except to say it's something we need to keep in mind constantly.

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    1. Thanks Rita. And not let it overwhelm us as it can.

      Best,

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