Cathy Shouse here. When Seekerville Author Extraordinaire Janet Dean invited me to share some ideas about marketing today, I almost backed out. .
Why? Because just like Sally Fields, I want to be liked. And I know the last thing most writers want to talk about is marketing.
Unless their agent asks them, that is. Then they do a great imitation of an Energizer bunny, spouting all kinds of enthusiasm. .
Truth be told, most writers I know detest marketing. .
Ask a published writer why they're behind on their word count. .
"All the marketing I'm doing!" .
Catch a writer yawning. . "I was up late on Facebook," she'll say. .
And what is near the top of every author's Guilt List? .
"I should be marketing more. " (Insert long sigh here.) .
Well, I have a confession--I'm a writer and I like marketing. Talk about an oxymoron. .
Now, before you tell me to go start my own support group called Marketers Anonymous, consider coming over to the dark side with me. .
Start out by finding the fun in marketing. Yes, promoting yourself and your books can be enjoyable. So try different aspects of it and find what suits you. Ideally, you will have a variety of marketing arrows in your quiver. Everyone has her favorites so you need to figure out yours. .
Everything we do in life is influenced by our attitudes. So having a bad attitude about self-promotion puts us behind from the get-go. Taking time to develop the proper attitude and believing it deep down is very important. Please don't overlook this step. Make an effort to overcome your negativity about marketing. .
I think of it as a game, only better. In this game, everybody wins. The writer wins more success, more royalties, and a feeling of accomplishment. The readers win by discovering one or all of these benefits: entertainment, information, inspiration, healing and maybe even salvation. .
Look at it this way. Writing is a form of communication that marketing enhances. Here's my favorite definition of communication: a connection allowing access between persons or places. The more people who see a person's writing, the more communication, i.e. connection, is achieved. .
Remember this question? "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" .
Well, ponder this: "If someone writes words no one ever reads, is it communication?" .
My answer is "No." Now, those words may be personal expression, or might be a message to God, both topics for another day. .
So let's talk about how to become a better marketer and address the biggest complaint: It's too time-consuming. .
A marketing plan is only as time-consuming as you want it to be. Having said that, discipline is a key factor. .
Another confession: I’m late on creating this post because of marketing. .
Here's what happened. I went to check e-mail first. My e-mail provider had a great news headline. I read the story. Then I decided to post some of the information on my blog. . Fortunately, I was strong today and didn't head over to Facebook. (Actually, I had been over to Facebook earlier and not much was happening.) .
I am back doing this post, so I have developed discipline in time management, and you'll have to do that, too. .
One way I do that is to set a kitchen timer to ring, usually in 15 minutes. It depends on what I'm doing. I've set it for as little as 5 minutes. .
Now to address the biggest question: . "Is it ever too early to start marketing?" .
My answer: no. It's never too early. You are not marketing a book. You are marketing yourself. If my mother had given birth to me knowing I would be a writer, she could have labeled the crib at the hospital nursery, Cathy Duling (Shouse) writer. If she had taken a photo and put it on Facebook along with a Tweet, that would have been better. .
What is newsworthy for an unpublished author? I would promote anything related to writing or speaking. Start tiny, with the local newspaper or even a neighborhood newsletter. Get your name out however you can. .
If you enter a contest, you announce it. You don't have to win. If you go to ACFW national, or just a statewide meeting, or are named an officer, you put in an announcement, talk it up on the Internet and wherever else you can. .
Don't feel bad about this. If the local insurance agent can announce his stuff, so can you. The bank announces their new manager, which I don't consider news at all. .
All this publicity helps people know you are a writer and a secondary benefit is you begin to see yourself as a writer. This can be helpful when times get tough and you question your aspirations to write. .
Ten Tips for Turbo-charging Your Publicity .
1) Approach any place and everyone you might be able to get mentioned by. This means bloggers, newspapers and more. Are your writing achievements in your college alumni magazine?
Just mind your manners. Value other peoples’ time. And consider the setting. Jane Friedman, former executive of the book publishing branch of Writers Digest says social media should be social. She has a fantastic blog: There Are No Rules. She says if the only messages you post are about your book releases, you're not in social networking at all and people will tune you out. Use a light touch. Be easy to get rid of. Less is more. Give a 2-minute pitch to the local newspaper to get a story about yourself. Then offer to follow-up with details by e-mail or with another call. .
2) Writing is a business and even WalMart advertises: It’s never been easier or cheaper. It just takes persistence and creativity. A big dose of enthusiasm helps, too. If you write a blog on your own, post often and feel free to keep it short. Joining up with other writers is a time saver, like Seekerville authors have done. .
3) Have publicity in the back of your mind at all times. Whatever stage you’re in, start now. Marketing is a habit and gets easier the more you do it. It becomes natural. .
4) Make a written plan of your marketing. Don't pressure yourself. If you aren't an Excel spreadsheet kind of person (and I'm not) a simple to-do list is okay. Jot down reminders on your calendar. Work within your current system. .
5) Try what I call the Apple-A-Day approach for books: Do one thing six days a week for a healthy career. This can be as simple as keeping your bookmarks in your car and stopping at bookstores or libraries you come across. All of us are mobile these days. If I visit my father-in-law in Martinsville, IN, about 80 miles away, I have a flyer with me. If the library isn't open, I put a note in the drop box. This is such a habit with me, my husband even did "the honors" once when he went without me. .
6) Know your broader fiction, or nonfiction themes and promote them: parenting, business, baby boomers and change, grief and support groups are a few I've been able to work with. If it's mother's day and you have a strong character who is a mother, try for a story in the local paper.
7) We all know the key word in real estate: location. Well, in publicity it's this: Pictures. Pictures. Pictures: Spend the dough for a professional photo. Just as important is to get photos of everything you go to or participate in. Get help with photos at your event if at all possible. (Waving to Janet Dean whose picture I took and landed on the Publisher's Weekly blog Beyond her Book.) Submit pictures with everything, even announcements. Let the newspaper know when you’re speaking or leading a workshop or attending a meeting at a coffee shop. Depending on what's going on that day, you may get in the paper. Don't just say "I'm in a writer's group." Say "I'm attending the state chapter meeting for a national writing organization called the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, which has 1,000 members around the world." Make yourself sound impressive. You are! .
8) We're told that In-person contact makes the biggest impact: So don't focus your efforts only using the Internet. Be careful about book signings that can be a waste of time. Bookstores don't even do them anymore. If you can make you book promotion into an event, do it. My first book signing for the historic photo book "Images of America: Fairmount," was in my hometown of Fairmount and I invited the classic car buffs in town to come in their cars. It added flair to the event. The Friends of the Library brought in a cake and the Main Street group donated leftover ice cream from their last event. The more people you involve, the better the attendance. .
9) Make friends with insiders: Have a freelance journalist write stories about you, befriend the reporter who interviewed you for the paper. Keep them informed, in a nice, personal way. And by all means, send out thank you notes to everyone who helps you in the slightest way. No, a verbal thank you or an e-mail is not enough. We're writers, after all! I've got all kinds of pretty note cards waiting for this purpose and ask for them for Christmas every year. .
10) Newspapers may be dying, but newspaper readers tend to be book readers. The small papers only want local news so make yourself local. If your book is dedicated to your sister in Pennsylvania, pitch a story about the two of you for her Pennsylvania newspaper. If a policeman or doctor helped with research, pitch a story about the two of you. People are fascinated with the whole process of writing. As a reporter, I've written stories about writers entering writing contests. When Diann Hunt wrote a travel book and the characters stopped at Pokagon State Park in Indiana, I wrote a story for the nearby town of Angola's paper. Think outside the standard press release. .
We've made it to # 10 and I could go on and on (and I have!) I suggest becoming a student of marketing. There are all kinds of Internet stories about how people have become known. Read them. See what other authors do. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a master, making you feel like you are conversing with her. Go friend her on Facebook and be dazzled! .
While you are talking yourself up, be sure to help others promote. You'll learn a lot about what works and they'll help you in return. There's something a bit more prestigious about another person promoting you. So become one another's public relations person. Your writer friends will probably say better things about you than you would say about yourself, so let them. . It's hard to know your results from all this, but all the effort will pay off over time. .
I recently spoke at a coffee shop in Muncie, Indiana with a new writer friend, Kelsey Timmerman. He wrote the intriguing book Where Am I Wearing? and has signs of marketing genius, IMHO. He introduced me and surprised me by not asking me any questions ahead of time. Turned out he had snagged my information from the blog I've done for The Star Press in Muncie. Of course, I snapped photos of Kelsey and put them on my blog at The Star Press afterward. And I e-mailed to let them know.
The third speaker was fantastic writer Ivy Farghuson with The Star Press, whom I had never met. Afterward, she said "I know you from your blog." How nice! The blog is on personal finance but I post about anything and everything. Be multi-dimensional as much as possible! .
Alright, let's keep the discussion going. Please leave a comment and share some of your marketing successes with the rest of us, for a chance to win Janet's most recent book: Wanted: A Family. Janet is one of the nicest people you'll meet and I love her books. For a chance to win a thirty-minute phone consultation with me on promotional opportunities, leave a comment. Two chances to win!oFor a chance to win a thirty-minute phone consultation with me on marketing opportunities, leave a comment.
Journalist and fiction writer Cathy Shouse lives with her husband and two children in Fairmount, Indiana, the setting for her photo history book by Arcadia Publishing entitled Images of America: Fairmount. Earning her oboe and business degree from Indiana University in Bloomington spawned a fascination with marketing she can't shake. Cathy thrives on promoting authors, having published dozens of articles about them. Designing unique author publicity campaigns is a favorite pastime of hers. To contact Cathy, go to http://www.thestarpress.com/ where she is a community blogger on personal finance. .
Janet here. Thanks Cathy for the helpful marketing tip! Cathy has gotten my name and picture in area newspapers so I vouch for her expertise.
I brought an assortment of bagels from Panera with cream cheese. Easy food to grab on the run as we're off to market ourselves and our books.