Marketing is All About Connecting

Sunday, June 14, 2015
Writers, published or not, have to think about marketing. I recently read an article, where the author stated if you're planning to publish a book, you must start building your marketing platform three years in advance. But what does this really mean? Are you supposed to have a certain number of Twitter followers? Blog on a regular schedule? Create business cards and brochures?

Sure, all of those are important. But what's really crucial and what builds your contacts is connecting with your audience. It's really no different than your personal life. With your loved ones, you make connections--there's a give and take in these relationships. It should be the same with your marketing. You need to connect with your audience. You need to provide information or service, and you can also be a little personal, as long as you stay professional.

So how do you connect with your audience and build your contacts?

1. Show your value: No matter what you write: memoir, self-help books, romance novels, or children's picture books--you have something of value to share with people. This marketing strategy is easier for nonfiction writers because the content of their work is usually what their audience wants to learn about. For example, if you write books about saving money, you can provide tweets and blog posts with tips about saving money. Your audience will follow you because they want to learn more.

Fiction writers have a harder time with this, but it is still important. For example, I write children's books. What is my value? My books entertain and teach about a child's world. As a teacher, I also know a thing or two about kids and reading. So, I can provide information on the value of reading, fun kids books, books similar to mine, questions to go with books, and more. I could even point out sales on Amazon or library programs to check out. All of these things have value to people in my network, and they help promote my books and me as a speaker and teacher.

2. Be honest. This sounds so simple, but it's true. Sometimes, we struggle. Sometimes, we fail. I think one of the problems new writers have is that they read a lot of blog posts or writing craft books, which make it sound like if you just try hard enough, a publishing contract will be waiting for you at your doorstep. I mean, the likelihood of eventually having success if you work hard is high, but it's not guaranteed.

Honesty is one reason why I love Stephen King's On Writing so much and recommend it to all my writing students. I don't like reading horror books. But King's honesty in the first part of On Writing , about his struggles with drug addiction and becoming a successful writer and then years later, recovering from being hit by a car, is amazing.

Be honest with your network, but remain professional--this is what King did. How can you do this too?  Let's say: you are struggling with finding time to write. You could send out a tweet: I'm not writing every day. What works for you? Let's say you received a rejection or didn't win a contest, you could write a blog post about this failure. But then give it a positive spin: so I am reworking the beginning of the story and sending it back out to these five places tomorrow.

3. Think about your audience.  Do not think only about yourself and what you want. You need to consider what your followers want to. This is simply a matter of putting yourself in their shoes. Does someone really want to read blog post after blog post about your daily writing struggles or about the tricks your dog can do or about all your success on the bestseller list? No, people want variety. They want value (see number 1) and honesty (see number 2). Mix up your marketing. Think about the authors you like and follow. Why do you follow them? Can you do the same with your own unique twist because that's what your audience wants?

The bottom line is marketing is about connecting. How do the writers you follow connect with you? Study this, and then find a way to do it with your own style and flair.

Margo L. Dill is the author of three books for children and teens, owns an editing business (Editor 911), and teaches online novel writing and children's writing classes for WOW!    


Unknown said...

Thanks for your post, Margo. Can you provide a reference to the article cited in your opening paragraph? I'm finally accepting that I need an author platform, but I haven't a clue on where to begin, how much time I have to spend on blogging, tweeting, etc. Honestly, I'm a luddite when it comes to social media.

PS I too share your love of King's book "On Writing."

Margo Dill said...

EJ: I think it was this article, but if I'm wrong, this is still a great article I recently read that I think would help you! Best of luck to you! :)

ALSO, start small with social media. Do one thing like Facebook, then add Twitter or something. You don't have to do it all in one week!

Unknown said...

Yes, this article must be it--thanks! I'll be first in line to get the author's soon-to-be-published book, "Tough Love for Whiny Writers." That's me--I'm a whiner when it comes to social media, and I can't be. Not these days.

And thanks for reminding me to start small. I'm checking out Facebook today.

Unknown said...

Really helpful advice! Thanks Margo!

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