Okay, so I'm going to present at LTUE this week (and if you live anywhere close to Utah, you should come!) and one of the panels I'm sitting on is a marketing panel.
So most of us are creative minded people when it comes to authoring books. Then, when your book sells, you’re suddently thrust into the position of thinking about another side of writing.
The business side. The side where you promote and talk about yourself and your books. Most authors are terrified of this. There are entire blogs dedicated to helping authors become effective marketers. (This is not one of those blogs, but I am going to share with you my experiences over the next couple of weeks.) Have you seen Shrinking Violet Promotions? If not, I highly recommend it.
So first, there are three easy steps to determining your marketing strategy.
1. Stalk. That’s right, stalk. Lurk. Hang out in the back with a black hoodie on and listen. Watch. Take notes of what you like, of what you think is fun, of what you think you might like to do.
I’ve been stalking Beth Revis for years. You should too. I adore everything Saundra Mitchell writes, including her mega-helpful marketing stuff. (<<<If you haven't seen this, you will die. D-I-E.) I also like to randomly pop in to other author’s blogs and websites and see what they look like, what content they have both dynamically and statically, what contests they run, what swag they’re giving away, etc.
I stalk. I take note of what I like and then I move to step 2.
2. Steal. I know, I know. I’m making you into a criminal! Well, marketing—which is so left-brained—is criminal to a right-brained creative artist. So trust me, you’re already knocking on that door.
Through all of your stalking, you’ll see some things you like. Steal them. That’s right. Put them on your list of things you’d like to do before your book comes out, during the release of your book, and after your book comes out.
Make a big list. You won’t do everything, because let’s face it, you’re not Oprah and you don’t have millions to spend. (Also, many of the authors I stalk get a lot of help from their publishing houses. They have reach and dollars I simply can’t match. But everything goes on the list, whether it comes from the author or the publisher.)
I use a spreadsheet (surprise, surprise, Ms. Math Minor) to keep track of the marketing ideas I like. I include a website address that will refresh my memory if I’ve forgotten exactly what the idea looked like.
Which leads us to step 3…
3. Mutate. That’s right. X-Men, baby! (Love Wolverine.) Examine your ginormous list of possibilities and mutate the bigger ones that you really love into something you can manage with both hours and dollars.
I'm constantly trying to think of something that's simply different. Blog tours are nice. Interviews, playlists, conversations with characters. They're all good.
But I'm not looking for good. I'm looking for something different. And I don't mean you need to spend lots of money on swag or giveaways. I just mean I'm always trying to think of how I can take a postcard and make it into something more than a postcard.
And so I watch and listen and take notes, and then I mutate the ideas I see out there into something I can own, something I can manage, and something I can fund.
Easy, right? Riiight.
So are you out there stalking? Do you have a spreadsheet with ideas? My philosophy? It's never too early to start! Next week I'll talk about what I think every author should do. I call it my The Basic Marketing Plan for Authors Who Have Bills To Pay Too.