Lisa did a wonderful job of laying out the “online marketing must haves” like FB buttons or RSS feeds (neither of which I actually…erm…have yet). She was pretty thorough, providing an “online marketing to do list,” so I thought I’d offer up another angle of marketing.
Okay. Not to be dramatic or anything (because the Irish aren’t known for that right?) but this picture here is how I envision my relationship to my debut book. Here is my “baby” and I have to get her across a busy road of marketing, reviewers, sales ranks, stacks of competing books, and profit spread sheets (and other things I’m not even aware of yet!). I feel like successful marketing will be akin to a rosy crossing guard who steps into the road, blows her whistle, halts traffic, and waves us safely across to the side of success.
At the expense of sounding like I’m trying to convince everyone that the world is flat, I just wonder if online marketing is always the best way to go. I know it serves as an excellent resource/driving force for other things, but I don’t hear much about anything else. I also think that online marketing doesn’t always accomplish as much as we hope it will. What about offline marketing? What can we do there? (Shall I prepare for virtual rotten vegetable throwing?)
Let me backpedal a bit and say that I love online promotion. However, I also love writing. I enjoy a warm shower and seeing daylight in a form other than a screen saver. I just worry that, without judicious planning, I could become a professional marketer rather than a writer. Do other people worry about this? Interview down the road: “Oh, yes. I do love to write! Why, I’ve just tweeted about how I’d love to get back to it someday.”
There I go with the dramatics again.
Now, I am a nuts and bolts kind of girl, and I realized early that social media is just that—social—and, therefore, necessary, if you’re looking to spread a message. I understand the basics of this online stuff. This was why I went skipping to the computer—lollipop in hand—and set up a website. I thought it wasn’t bad, considering I didn’t know what I was doing. At all. (Would you hire a plumber that said that?). A trusted friend set me straight on its quality.
Like Lisa, I borrowed the funds for a professional web designer from my advance—never mind that I had no offer yet. I called it an “investment.” And you know what? It was! I was told later that Penguin signed me, in part, because of my online presence. They thought I would be an author who’d promote her book. They’re right. I will. I am. I have.
So, I now have a website, which serves as a calling card (as Lisa so aptly describes it) but it won’t sell books just sitting there. Isn’t it still word of mouth that primarily promotes sales of books? So, any promotion should have something to do with spreading the word about the book—the genre, the subject matter, its strong suits, the curriculum tie-ins, and “the readers of ‘X’ will love this book” stuff, etc., etc., etc… (Are you reaching for aspirin?)
One way to reach the masses is the use of platforms—broad groups/places from which to market your book. This can be helpful because, it seems to me anyway, that word of mouth in a homogeneous group moves faster and with more enthusiasm. Also, people want to read about what is important to them. So, brainstorm some ways that your book could be of interest to a group. For example, because my protagonist in ONE FOR THE MURPHYS is a foster child, I am in contact with the Foster Care System here in CT, as my book could be a support for both foster parents and kids. There is a heavy Red Sox/Yankees rivalry in my book. Will I use that? You betcha! Once you identify some of these platforms for your work, you may be able to use the internet to access them. Don’t discount, though, picking up the phone and making personal connections, too.
No matter how you do it, the most important thing is to find ways to make those connections with your readers! As I think about writers I know who are active online with strong book sales, they are also walking, talking writers who are OUT there, attending conferences and visiting schools and libraries. So, put yourself out there, too! Before your book is even released, volunteer to speak at the local library. Offer to give writing workshops to kids. Then give them a memory of a well-run, fun, active workshop. Something to take with them is good, too. Bookmarks, perhaps?
Also, keep in mind that adults are on author sites. For the most part, kids aren’t looking for authors online unless they have a book report. So, we must maximize our ability to reach the kids. How do we do that? I’d love a dialogue in the comments section about ways to do this!
I don’t know. I feel like I’ve gone in circles a bit. After all, I’m still finding my way through this myself. As I think about where marketing really begins, though, one thing I keep coming back to is this: Periodically, I’ve polled kids at school on this topic; they don’t seem to care at all about interviews, blogs, or websites. Far and away, what do the kids care most about?