Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writer Wednesday: The Dreaded M-Word

No, I'm not talking about money—although I'll gladly take some if you're offering. ;) I'm talking about marketing. I'm not one of those authors who loves to market. It's actually my least favorite part of being an author. I'd much rather write more books, which is why I have a backlog of manuscripts in various stages of revision. (Don't tell my agent, who is already handling plenty for me at the moment. I don't want to scare her away.)

Recently I realized I need to step up my marketing game. Yes, even though I don't really enjoy it. Sure, I love in-person events. Give me plenty of those! But the other marketing stuff…not so much. So I promised myself to do at least one thing a day to market my work. And you know what? I've found that one thing usually leads to another and sometimes another. Yes, I've been averaging about three marketing efforts a day. Here comes the really surprising part. The more I market, the more I enjoy marketing.

I know! It's crazy! But here's the thing. I marketed my free book Campus Crush, and I saw results. That's motivating. So now I'm stepping up my game with my other titles and hoping that I'll get results for those too. The tricky thing is that what works as far as marketing one book may not work for the next, so I'm constantly trying new things and keeping track of what works and what doesn't.

How about you? Do you force yourself to market even when you don't feel like it?

31 comments:

  1. Thanks for being so brave in sharing this, and it's great you're seeing some results of your efforts. It's a slow burn for me so far.

    I actually have the opposite problem, Kelly, I love the online marketing I do as I'm not as mobile offline, and even if I were, I'm far more nervous in large crowds. But even though I'm an introvert, I'm NOT a hermit, I need interaction, but I'm frusttratingly shy in person, and hanging out with friends is still a different experince than being proverbially on stage and having the pressure to be "On" to enage your audience.

    Even though I plan to do more videos with me on camera. I'm so freaked out at the idea of doing a live video chat via Google Hangouts or on YouTube, I did one last year and was so awkward, and I'd love to hire a coach at some point to help me with this.

    Everyone in business development seems to say that some form of live event helps connect people to each other, and I've participated in live events as part of the audience, and it was fun, but it moves so fast and I struggle to keep up, and I'm just in the audience.

    A far different experience to being "On" in front of potentially thousands of people.

    I'd like to do more videos where I can have a smaller that I can later edit it down (for conciseness) and post-produce before making it public,

    But I will work on that, because I want to meet some of my future readers when my books start coming out.

    Just like I long to meet many of my ffavorite authors who're still alive before it's too late. Let me know when you get the chance to come to Michigan, and if you can't get to Detroit (where I live) somewhere in Oakland County I can get a ride to.

    Sometimes marketing can feel like a time suck away from writing, however vital it is, but remember we're only one person, we can't do it all, and I sometimes feel that gets lost when eveyone in our industry is preaching this.

    That said, the only part of marketing I really struggle with is building my e-mail list, and I don't need to be convinced about why I need one, but it's hard for me.

    Because people get so much e-mail, the pressure to be concise and "Scannable" is HARD for me because I like to be chatty and conversational.

    Every time I've tried to be brief, I just confuse people. Being on Twitter has helped me with this, but it's just my natural inclination to go deep versus teasing it out in chunks.

    As long as your agent knows you're only one person and
    After all, marketing it's a moot point if we've nothing to offer, which in our case is books, right?

    Despite the adage "IF you build it, they will come" being far from true, it's also true that "If you don't build it, nothing will come."

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    1. As long as your agent knows you're only one person and have other priorites, you'll get through it, but I think it's especially hard for ,

      I think some indie authors (who've never had an agent or worked with a publisher) forget that even if you could more straightforawerdly handle being a one man or woman show, doesn't mean everyone can.

      We didn't come out of the womb knowing this stuff, yet some writers sometimes criticize each other for it, and while it may not come easy to those who do it well, your learning curve might well be FAR steeper than mine. That's a fair ponint, right?

      After all, marketing it's a moot point if we've nothing to offer, which in our case is books, right?

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    2. Taurean, I'm actually more worried about overworking my agent. She's already doing so much for me and I have so much more in the works for her.

      I need to up my videos. I love doing them, but finding the time and the right topics can be tricky. You have a great presence on YouTube—in my opinion. I'm still working on how to build mine. As far as email lists go, mine is building slowly. I have a pretty good list, but I know I have to keep making it larger and that can be tough.

      Marketing in general is not easy. It's all trial and error, and that can be very time consuming.

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    3. Thanks for replying, Kelly,

      I know your agent works hard on your behalf (based on what you share) I was speaking more broadly to those who don't have someone to bounce our marketing ideas off with.

      I talk with my editor about some things, but outside working on the actual book from an editorial standpoint, I do . It might change a bit as it gets closer to release, but right now it's primarially in my hands, I'm not bitter about it, but I'm concerned if I'm reaching my readers, both on my site or on YouTube.

      I feel like I'm pulling teeth to get just ONE comment a month, and I just saw your tweet on Twitter about not acessing the comment system I changed to, I'll look into it.


      At least you have some idea of who reads your books, I'm not at the point where readers are contacting me (my book's not out yet) but pre-release marketing is so hard.

      I don't mean to come off whiny, I'm just tryigng to be honest, and in spite of my frustrations,

      I really think pre-release marketing is different than when you have a book or two out, and like you I do love to promote other writer;s books more since it feels less "in your face" but we should never feel apologetic for our books. We worked just as hard as our "idols" on our books and they have a right to a readership, too.

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    4. Agreed, Taurean. And yes, pre-release marketing is tough. I think you're doing a good job though. Do you have a release date yet?

      As for your blog comments, I don't know if the problem is on your end or mine. I know I need to run updates on my computer, so that might have something to do with it. I'd try to have someone else comment and see if they have trouble.

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    5. Don't have a release date just yet, Kelly, but rest assured, you'll be among the first to know.

      I'm still working with my editor on the mss. I'm also working on launching my crowdfunding campaign so I can hire an illustrator who could really bring Gabriel and his world to life visually.

      Because I'm with a small press, a lot of the marketing's on me, but the trade off is I can have more creative control on matters of cover design and illustrator, but I get the benefit of the editorial help and publishing platform (RE: Printing physical books) I couldn't finance all by myself, and while my book is a novel, I wanted to have some illustrations.

      Plus, it would help my marketing efforts to have visual representation of my characters as a I neared launch, but since neither my publisher, nor I can't fund it all upfront, I'm turning to crowdfunding to help with that.

      Right now, I'm saving up to comission a sketch or two to give an idea of what the final book's art will look like.

      The campaigns that succeed, and I've backed myself, often have something tanigble that gives to potential backer an idea of what their pre-comiting to buy or review/recommend to friends if they pick a tier that gets them a copy of the final book. Often earlier than it's available to all.

      I have a Plan B, and I know there's debate about when it's okay to crowdfund and when it isn't, but especially because this is my first book, I want to be impression to be "This is a well crafted book" and as much as I believe story is paramount, how our book looks on the outside does play a part.

      Plus, like anyone else, I have passion/preference for visuals.

      I strongly believe that if what's standing in the way of publishing a pro level book is lack of financial resources, we should have no shame in doing anything in our ethical/moral/legal power to make it happen. Authors always tell each other no one will believe in our books more than us, so let us prove that withour judgement, just because you may not make a similar choice doen't mean it's unethical, right?

      Sure, you can save up your own money and fund it all yourself, but depending on what your book needs visually, it could many years, and this is assuming your book's written, decently edited and ready to go, and even that's a considerable expense, and what oppononents of indie publishing I fear fail to take into account is that printing costs are as high or higher than getting a team of editors for your book, on top of bearing the full burden of marketing alone, unless you also had a spare several grand to hire a publicist.

      I think part of the problem is some people thinkg auhors who crowdfund are begging, and I assure you, having part of a few crowdfunding campaigns, it's NOT begging, nor is it a shortcut to not do hard work on the part of the author.

      I'm not saying there aren't jerky scammers out there, but the majority of authors are decent, ethical people who simply want to bring a book that couldn't publish tradtionally short of pulling a "Godfather" with a trad. publishier (I'm KIDDDING, but I'm making a real point, LOL)

      I truly believe that if publishing gets to a point where only the rich can afford to do it at a pro level, while we may have less half-done junk, but we'd still shut out so many writers solely because our passion, even our skill and fortitude, can't overcome out financial limitations.

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  2. Of all the things I thought might come to my mind with M word, mother came to mind first. But yeah, marketing sucks and my mother was great. Go figure.

    I also do not like to market and feel horrible for authors who must do it. Writing and trying to become a published author is a very humbling experience and to have to market yourself once it's done is so very difficult because of that. I'm wishing the best for you, Kelly!

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    1. I'd much rather promote other authors than myself. lol

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  3. I do a fair amount of marketing, and it does become easier the more you do it. Now I am trying to do more appearances!

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  4. I'm just learning. I know I need an mail list, but don't have one as yet. I know I need to make videos, but have only been able to create 2 book trailers so far. It doesn't seem to make any difference wheher you self publish or have a small publisher, as an author all the marketing is up to you. I know it's a journey, but I'm still trying to find the path. Thank heavens, there are authors like you Kelly who share and help us learn.

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    1. I really think sharing and help each other is necessary, Sherry. How else will be learn, right?

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    2. I struggle with building an e-mail list, too, Sherry, and in the good spirit of sharing here are some resources I turn to for building e-mail list-



      Build Your Tribe with Chalene Johnson: The #1 Mistake In Business
      (I warn you, she's blunt and insistent, but it comes from a well-meaning and experienced place)

      Author Katie Davis also takes a strong stance about e-mail lists, and she has worked hard to get the one she has, and I'm glad to be part of it, as I know a lot of what I know about being an author on the business side from her-

      How to Build Your Platform Usiing E-mail withKatie Davis - G+ Hangout Replay

      Free Training For Building Your Author Platform From Katie Davis

      But remember, Sherry, despite how vital marketing is, we are only ONE person, we can't do it all, and we shouldn't kill ourselves over it.

      I'm not trying to be melodrmatic nor dismissive about putting ourselves out there, but I'm DEAD SERIOUS, too. We have to remember that we are human, not robots, and we have to honor and respect our limitations. I had to take a major step back because I was pushing my business self too hard.

      After all, and again I'm not trying to scare you (or make light of our struggles in marketing) if we died from stress, we'd have no more books to write, and I'd like to think most agents and editors know that.

      We can't let marketing stop us from writing new books, especially when writers are preached at that about having a backlist of work.

      That can't happen if we only market the books we may already have out there and never write the ones still in flux.

      JK Rowling wouldn't be as big as she is if she only wrote ONE book in the Harry Potter series, but sat on the rest because the marketing of the first book had to be more important thany anything else, even at the cost of future books in the series.

      "One book doesn't make you a writer, writing makes you a writer" and while I feel that be used as an excuse to not revise the books you have "completed" in some form, it is true.

      Sometimes the shift between writing and selling our wriiting isn't as smooth as we'd like it to be.

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  5. Marketing is one of those things that I think I'll have an aversion for. I know it's part of the process, but it's something I'd rather have someone else do!

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  6. We could learn A LOT from you about marketing. I would gladly half my effort on that dreaded M-word... But you are right. You no longer leave it all to others on your team (publisher, agent, and such.)
    Here's where I would raw the line, though. Writing is first.

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    1. My problem is that I always choose writing first. lol I have so many draft sitting here, and just today I started another. I need to be stopped. ;) So my new plan is to market first thing BEFORE I get caught up in writing each day.

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  7. That^ was "DRAW," not "raw." I should spend more time proofreading.

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    1. I always fall victim to autocorrect when I comment from my phone, so no worries. I knew what you meant.

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  8. I hate marketing! LOL What kinds of things are you trying, Kelly? If you don't mind sharing. I struggle with knowing what to do, and reaching readers I wouldn't normally connect with.

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    1. I've found a few sites that will promo your book for free or for a very small fee. I'm trying not to spend a fortune because I also hired a social media manager and that can get expensive. I'm also reaching out to libraries and book stores to get more appearances. Then there's the social media end. I'm trying to research bloggers in my genres and follow them. Some are following me back; others aren't.

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  9. I am glad that the more you market, the more you enjoy it! Sounds like it is paying off too! :)

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    1. Slowly, but I'm definitely seeing some positive results and that's great in my mind. :)

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  10. No books to market yet. But I've got a long list of things to try out when it happens! =)

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  11. I love book signings but anything else that has to do with marketing myself, I hate. It's a constant struggle with me and I really suck at it. All I can do is try my best to get better. But I doubt I'll ever start enjoying it. However, you just never know!

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    1. Some of the things I'm doing are relatively simply and quick, so I don't mind those as much.

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  12. This marketing thing both worries me and seems super exciting...I have a ton of ideas (my book's about makeup so I can have some fun I think!) but at the same time it's so daunting.

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    1. It can be daunting. For me the problem is that I want to come up with something really awesome. I just haven't thought of it yet. lol

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  13. I'm glad Katie asked about your marketing techniques, Kelly, because I was just about to as well. I am not good at marketing and often feel like I'm 3 steps behind what I am supposed to be doing. About three years ago when I first started out, I hated marketing, but now it does get easier. I have a small mailing list and it sometimes surprises me when people don't unsubscribe after each round of updates lol. (*touch wood) My budget for advertising is also lean so the main thing is to keep interacting on social media (an exchange of tastes in reading and art) and not pushing for sales. Then work on producing the next book.

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    1. I've recently found that advertising on sites really helps. You have to budget for it though.

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