Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Promoting, Marketing and Advertising, Oh My!

I earned a degree in journalism because I wanted to be a writer. Instead, I ended up spending my first 10 years out of college working in corporate marketing, P.R. and advertising for telecom and Internet companies. Little did I know then how useful this would be as a writer--the universe certainly works in mysterious ways!

Whether you are traditionally or self-published, you have to do your own promoting, marketing and advertising. It can all seem overwhelming, but if you divide it into steps, then it's more manageable. View yourself, the author, as your company and view your book(s) as your product. You first need to promote your company and then market and advertise your product.

1. Promoting Your "Company"
Before you ever come out with a product, you need to let the public know your company exists. Promoting yourself can be difficult for many writers. While the traditional face-to-face methods are still valuable, such as attending coferences, workshops, etc., online networking is critical.

The four most popular ways of networking online are through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and a web site or blog. You don't have to do all of them, but I would  keep a website/blog and at least one social networking account. Keep in mind the goal is to build a brand for yourself, network with others in the industry and grow your presence. Facebook is good for connecting with friends/family; Linkedin is useful for making industry connections; Twitter is great for finding and sharing pertinent information; and your website or blog becomes the central hub for all your information and where you can connect all your other online sites. Cross-promotion is key in the online networking world.

There is a good  resource that has great tips and advice for setting up and utilizing the online networking sites to their fullest. It is "Publishing and Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author" by Christine Rose, and you can download a copy here.

Keep in mind that networking takes time. It won't happen overnight. But if you do it, eventually you'll build a presence. Just spend a few minutes each day on your site(s), and start off with posting once a week on your website or blog. It's no different than making time to write your book (and we all know how long that process takes!)

2. Marketing Your "Product"

Once your book is published, then it's time to market it, which means getting it in front of your intended audience. Since you've been building an online presence through your networking sites, you will already be ahead of the game. However, now you need to get your book in front of the right readers. You can blog about topics that would interest your readers, join online discussion groups where your readers are or share information your readers would enjoy via Twitter. It's utilizing the same online networking tools, just in a different way. Christine Rose has some good tips on how to do this as well (click here).

Smashwords also has a great marketing guide with 30 useful tips you can quickly and easily incorporate into your marketing plan. And don't forget traditional methods as well, such as issuing a press release to local media, approaching local bookstores and any other in-person marketing you can do.

3.  Advertising Your "Product"

Advertising is necessary to generate and increase sales. There are a number of ways you can advertise your book. This is where your website/blog really comes in handy. You can get involved in a blog tour where you are interviewed about your book (and host interviews with other authors). Giveaways are another great advertising tool. You can give free copies to blog readers, hand out bookmarks that advertise your book, or anything else that relates to it. (I read about an author who posted a contest on her website and then gave away a certain type of pen that the main character in the book used). Many authors also create video trailers for their books on YouTube. Think about what your favorite consumer products do to attract your attention and try to do something along those same lines with your product.

Smashwords recently posted the results of an interesting survey they did on how readers find ebooks. Overall, it’s word of mouth that drives book sales. Of course, these days, word of mouth is in the form of online communication, but the idea is still the same. And don’t forget that word of mouth works both ways. If you want others to refer your book, then you need to refer theirs as well, which goes right back to the very beginning in which you promote your company by networking. I love it when the universe brings you full circle!
I welcome your comments on ways you promote, market and advertise yourself and your books!

--KSR Writer

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