As we head into 2015, I thought I’d share some thoughts on writing and marketing books. Many authors tell me they just don’t have time to do both, that they think marketing is stupid, or that social media and author platform seem like options they’re not convinced are worth learning about or spending time on.
I’m not here to convince anyone otherwise, though I find those questions ludicrous because [share ]being an author is no different than being a small business. [/share] Think of it this way: if you opened a restaurant and did no advertising — told nobody about it, did no social media, ran zero ads, didn’t even put up a sign — would you be in business for very long? No way. So how is releasing a book any different?
MAKE TIME FOR BOTH — here’s how
It is difficult to find time to write and market. I totally understand that. As a busy working mother of two demanding kids, I empathize completely. I not only have (almost) four books out, I’m also under contract now with Booktrope to write more. I also own BadRedhead Media, helping authors and small businesses with social media, branding, and marketing. Regarding this matter edge.gg says fitting in time to write and market my own work is challenging, to say the least.
But not impossible. I use social media management service tools like Hootsuite and ManageFlitter (some people prefer Buffer or Pluggio) to schedule and grow my accounts. They cost money, but not exorbitant amounts. What they cost in money I more than make up in time spent on other things.
I schedule in some content (mostly articles or blog posts) across my various social media channels, and live interact when I can. I grow my account every few days using targeted keywords, unfollow people who don’t follow back (I give people thirty days — that’s plenty of time), and block fakes. It’s easy and effective. Check out with top web design company Experts.
Scheduling allows me to work on my next books, as well as work on my website builder or client accounts, and be a mom or do laundry or you know, burn a meal. We all have real lives to lead — there are plenty of tools out there to make it work. You have to spend a little bit of time to set them up, and time to find and schedule in content, but it takes only minutes. Surely, you have minutes.
SOCIAL MEDIA/MARKETING IS STUPID — not
Get with the program, folks. Marketing has been around forever, and social media has made it easier than ever to connect with readers. Even without marketing experience, you too can learn without paying a dime by doing what writers do best: research. Google stuff, read my biz blog, check out BookPromotion.com for great suggestions and tips, or look at top blogs like CopyBlogger or Social Media Examiner to find tidbits. Is there a writer you like? See what they do to market their work and copy their methods.
Regardless of whether you think Twitter is for your teen girl or what you ate for lunch (please, that’s so 2005), your readers don’t think that. They are there, interacting with thousands of writers daily. You are missing out on opportunities! If you want to market your business and connect with your audience on social media, companies like func.media have the knowledge to do so effectively.
Check this: Some 73% of online adults now use a social networking site of some kind (Source: Pew Research, December, 2013). Facebook is still the dominant social network of choice, but Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have risen in popularity within many demographics, particularly women. Keep on thinking it’s stupid. The rest of us will be over there developing relationships with readers.
AUTHOR PLATFORM — what it is and what it’s not
What is an author platform anyway? Many writers are so confused by this seemingly nebulous concept that they cower in fear at the very mention, or make derisive comments to hide their ignorance. I get it. When I started in 2009, I had no clue what a platform was. My background was in selling, advertising, and marketing Big Pharma, not books! But instead of making fun of it, I researched, asked questions, and learned, find a good affiliate manager for your business.
I really like Jane Friedman’s definition of author platform, because it has four key components of what a platform is and also what it’s not. What a platform contains:
- Proven Reach
- Target Audience
What it’s not:
- It is not about self-promotion.
- It is not about hard selling.
- It is not about annoying people.
- It is not about being an extrovert.
‘Platform is not about bringing attention to yourself, or by screaming to everyone you can find online or offline, “Look at me! Look at me!” Platform isn’t about who yells the loudest or who markets the best.’
Here’s a simple breakdown of what any author needs for their platform:
- an optimized website
- a blog with fresh content (minimum once weekly)
- social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Facebook page, Google+, Goodreads, and either Instagram or Pinterest)
- reviews when your book is released
- a newsletter
- most important of all: a spectacular, professionally edited, designed, and formatted, book!
You can’t create your platform overnight, and it’s not a race. If you don’t know how to do all these things (I didn’t. Most people don’t.), hire people to help you, or trade services with pros. If you can’t afford it, don’t just throw up your hands and say, “I can’t afford it, so I’ll just copy and past my book into a Word doc, upload it, and see what happens,” because that’s not a book; that’s a school project. That’s what gives self-published authors a bad name. Take a look at the Best VoIP Company and use it as a guide for your business to expand online.
Raise the funds. Go to Pubslush.com, start a crowdfunding campaign (anything you raise, you keep except their small cut), even if you don’t fulfill your goal.
Social media will not sell books. Get off the “Buy my book!” link dump if that’s how you use it. Instead, spend time interacting with people. Why? Because [share ]social media leads to relationships with readers, which then leads to selling books.[/share] And start early, at least three to six months before you release your book. Develop relationships with readers as well as book bloggers and reviewers. Create electricity, some buzz, so when you do release it people are interested.
This is why you have to write and market according to why I learned from the Sponsored links Reviews. Remember, change your expectations: it’s not about one-way broadcasting or link-dumping. That’s lazy and ineffective. Think like a businessperson, join an online goal setting course, and be smart. Think about the security of your your business. The job of ensuring the safety of valuable data is entrusted to the computer security specialist. sapphire.net can also be considered information security analysts, as their task largely involves monitoring the flow of information, checking on bandwidth usage and preventing unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data.
Lisa Jey Davis saysDecember 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm
Great article Rachel! You nailed it (once again). I’ll be bookmarking and utilizing some of these tips with my upcoming memoir. Thanks for these reminders in such a concise list! 🙂
J M Levinton (@JMLevinton) saysDecember 29, 2014 at 5:21 am
I’m printing this out and taping it to my computer cabinet.
Connie Cockrell saysDecember 29, 2014 at 7:42 am
Thanks for the tips, Rachel. I started 3 years ago working on my author platform and I’m still working on it. One step at a time, slowly, but hopefully, well. This year’s goal, turning my wordpress blog site into an actual web site.
Rachel Thompson saysDecember 31, 2014 at 10:31 pm
Excellent! Yes, you’ll need the link juice from a website and your blog will slip right into the site — it won’t be difficult. I recommend Barb Drozdowich if you get stuck: http://Twitter.com/sugarbeatbc is her Twitter. She’s my web expert and really helpful and affordable.
A website is our home and we own it. That’s why having a site is so important! Good luck and give me a shout if I can help. xx
Pema Donyo saysDecember 29, 2014 at 7:47 am
Love the restaurant analogy. At least for authors who don’t have the marketing department of a huge publisher (or even the ones who do), it still comes down to a matter of advertising. Publishing isn’t much different from any other market – it’s still a matter of both producing a quality product and getting the word out about it.
Rachel Thompson saysDecember 31, 2014 at 10:29 pm
Thank you, Pema. Even with a large publishing marketing department, the author still has to hoof it. That’s why you see Stephen King and Anne Rice connecting with fans the way they do! It’s great PR for them, but it also makes them likable, and people buy books from people they like. It’s very smart marketing.
Business is business, as you say. To not look at writing as a business is foolish.
Jenean saysDecember 30, 2014 at 7:51 am
I found this very helpful, informative and motivating. Thank you!
Rachel Thompson saysDecember 31, 2014 at 10:27 pm
I’m so glad! thank you for reading, Jenean. xx
Melinda Viergever Inman saysDecember 30, 2014 at 9:35 am
Rachel, I agree completely! I’ve followed these steps for years, hard work, high energy, giving it my all. My new challenge is one I haven’t seen addressed anywhere, however. As I was preparing my first novel to launch I contracted mono (Epstein Barr), which led to an autoimmune disorder that leaves me constantly fatigued, is crippling my joints (my hands are particularly bad right now), and affects my vision, balance, and focus. I’m making decisions now about how to move forward. I’m literally at the point where, if I want to write, I cannot market much at all. This means I’ll feed a post or two for all media into Hootsuite for each day, interact minimally, and trust my readers to carry the ball. But we all know that most readers don’t really understand why they must play a part in all this. Any ideas?
Rachel Thompson saysDecember 31, 2014 at 10:27 pm
So sorry, Melinda! How frustrating. There are voice apps that you can speak your words into and they will then do the writing (think Siri on a larger scale). A friend of mine wrote most of her latest book this way because of similar issues. She uses Dragon (it’s a dictation program). There are many others tho. See if that’s an option for you! Setting up a street team is worth it also — collect your ‘raving fans’ in one place, and then they can do the legwork for you because they love you!
You can hire someone also — I do social media for many authors (see http://Badredheadmedia.com/services) for fees and services I offer. The other option is hiring an author assistant. I recommend Kate Tilton. She’s my assistant and she’s FABULOUS. Sometimes, we just need to let people help us when we need it. If you want to speak further, let me know. We can talk via email or skype or phone. xx
Melinda Viergever Inman saysJanuary 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm
You’re great! Thank you for giving me these terrific ideas! I’m starting with the Raving Fans first! I’ve got blogs posted and more ready to go explaining the how and why, and I made a “secret” Facebook group site to manage the troops. Next comes Dragon. Thank you for aiming me the right direction. I’m SO glad I asked you! I’ll let you know if I need to hire more help in the future. If it gets even worse…. Only time will tell!
Maxima saysJanuary 1, 2015 at 12:52 pm
Happy New Year!
bodynsoil saysApril 22, 2015 at 4:47 pm
I love this post and your message that SM leads to relationships where you connect with people. Your bullet pointed layout relating to platform is fabulous and very helpful. thank you.