From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Monday, October 20, 2014

6 Ways To Let Others Do Your Book Marketing For You

We are writers, not marketers. Writers, not publicists. We are creating art, not peddling "product."

Writers write, right?

Cue enormous *le sigh*.

Writing, creating those beautiful words like brain babies, is absolutely our most important calling. It's top priority. But we still want people to see and read and ooh and ahh over those brain babies, and that involves what the vampires and soul-sellers of the world call "marketing," and unfortunately, in the modern publishing world, if we don't do that marketing ourselves, it's probably not going to get done. And in most cases its certainly not going to get done as effectively as we could do it ourselves.

As we writers are commanded told time and time and time again, by everyone from "authorities" to Authorities, from every conceivable platform, we modern writers are now responsible not just for creating our beautiful brain babies, but for raising them smartly and releasing them into as loving and large a throng as we can muster.

But as someone from an eight child family can tell you, isn't it enough to worry about keeping our creations alive and healthy, keeping them from lopping off their hair or blowing out their diapers, without also having to be the one that bribes all the student body to be their friend and vote for them as Homecoming Queen? Okay, so maybe I'm getting a little out of hand with my metaphors here, but you get what I mean, right?

I'm here to tell you that there are plenty of ways to be low on the sleezy and high on the lazy efficient sides of book marketing. We all know the "it takes a village" aphorism, right? Well I think it applies to book marketing too. In other words, there are lots of perfectly appropriate ways to piggy-back on other people and let them do lots of your book marketing for you.

Now, just to be clear, we are mostly talking about long-term marketing here. These are things that will be most effective months or even years before your book comes out, or in the times between books while you're just working on platform building. During the heavy-hitting book release times you're probably going to be doing so much direct marketing work yourself that you'll need a year's supply of RedBull and a tribe of energizer bunnies just to get you through. These are long-term, slow building strategies, but they can really help out in the long run, and can help us be effective while still focusing our efforts on the most important thing: those brain babies.

1. Pinterest is your new best friend. When I read Anne R. Allen's post from her incomparable weekly blog I had to grin a little with the irony. I was in the middle of writing this post and in some ways we are looking at the two sides of one thing. If you haven't read Anne's post this week about the dangers and frustrations of living in our modern cyberworld, do yourself a favor and check it out. All the points she brings up are vitally important and need to be kept at the forefront of our online strategies. As we said at camp, "Safety first!"

That being said, Pinterest can be one of your most useful tools when used correctly. The many social media options and "must-do's" out there can be completely overwhelming, but before you get scared off, let me explain about Pinterest. One of the dangers of adding to your social media platform is the time-suck, and people are afraid of that with Pinterest especially. But honestly, give it a chance and Pinterest can be one of the least intimidating and least involved platforms out there. It can absolutely be a black hole of where-did-the-last-seven-hours-go if you want it to be let it, but it by no means has to be. Being an active user of Pinterest can mean no more than five minutes a day of looking at and maybe repinning pictures of motivational writing quotes, beautiful book covers, great blog posts, and pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch. Honestly. That's all it requires.

And did you catch that thing I just said about blog posts? I get more traffic to this blog from Pinterest than almost any other site. The way Pinterest is structured, it is easier to get discovered and spread on this site than any other, at least in my experience. What I do is make images almost like book covers for a blog post, using an applicable and appropriate photo. (Like the one at the top of this post). I edit and text overlay using a photo-editing site like PicMonkey. Don't let that scare you off either. It may be a learning curve but you'll end up being able to whip one up in less than five minutes. And then put it up on Pinterest, and bam, you have other people spreading your word. I am by no means an expert, but for an example of how I've been using Pinterest at least relatively successfully, check out my Pinterest boards, especially the ones for writers. (Whew, I didn't realize I had so much to say about this site. Maybe it deserves it's own how-to style post...)

2. Take advantage of the @Mention. The @mention feature on Twitter is one of your best tools for doing some totally appropriate piggy-backing of other people's audience. On Twitter itself, when you communicate directly with people in your industry using the @mention, you increase your chances of getting your tweet favorited or retweeted, thereby being introduced to the other tweeters audience. I.e., letting them do some of the work for you.

But the @mention can help in even more ways. I've had tweets mentioned in other author's newsletters that led people to both my twitter account and this blog. And you know how I make a spotlight list of other blog posts every week? I make sure to mention those bloggers on Twitter too. Of course doing this expecting other people to owe you any favors is totally obnoxious, (and this tool is mean to be the opposite of harassment) but I've been lucky enough to have my post mentioned or retweeted on other authors blogs and that has led to some great traffic that another writer already had ready and waiting. Plus its just a great way to be involved, and involving yourself with others creates involvement for you.

3. Guest post. "Wait!" I hear some of you saying. "You said this was for lazy marketers and writing more blog posts isn't lazy-friendly at all!"

True, but think of it in terms of return on investment. Letting other people do your book marketing for you is all about efficiency. Yes, you have to spend an additional 3-4 hours crafting the guest post. But if you put in the effort, do your best work, and are lucky enough to get accepted by some of the huge platform blogs, then guess what that means? That means you spent 3-4 hours reaching a crazy large audience that it would have taken you hundreds and hundreds of hours to reach otherwise. That blogger has already put in those hundreds, even thousands of hours building up that great audience, and guest blogging is the perfect way for you to piggy-back. In an appropriate, non-creepy (hopefully) way that is beneficial to both parties.

4. Create or discover interview opportunities. Again, this can take less effort than you expect. And it's all about efficiency and return on investment, right? The good thing is that there are already some tools in place that make this strategy quite simple. Help A Reporter Out is a newsletter sent directly to your inbox every day that lists topics reporters from everywhere want to get quotes about. For example, perhaps a newspaper reporter in Milwaukee needs to interview three middle school librarians, or a blogger for a major corporation wants to talk to work from home moms. Stuff like that. I've found a couple applicable postings, and if I can, you definitely can. And there's no easier way to piggy-back on that publication's audience.

The other tool is Blog Talk Radio. Caveat: I haven't used this site yet, but I've heard a lot about it lately and plan to get started soon. What I know so far is that this is a platform for anyone to create their own radio show or podcast, and some have audiences in the thousands. If anyone has any experience using this site I'd love to hear about it.

5. Blurb, collaborate, and bundle with other authors. How do you get your name and the title of your book on the cover of someone else's book? Blurbs! If you get a chance and it seems appropriate, blurbing might be a good opportunity.

And collaborating. Writing a book with another author is an automatic introduction to their already-built audience. However it doesn't even have to be as involved as all that, because I know writing a book with someone else isn't for everyone. But what about anthologies? That's collaboration, right? Or co-authored blogs? Or working with an illustrator to create a picture book or illustrated poetry? All great collaborative opportunities that mean access to someone elses in-place audience. Efficiency in book marketing is all about getting access to these already-built audiences. A reader who buys an anthology because they know another writer might end up loving your work just as much. And all you had to do was write.

And don't forget bundles. I've never done one myself, but selling your work in a bundle with some other authors gives you basically the same advantages of an anthology, but may have an even wider reach.

6. Ask. You know who else probably has a built-in audience? Your family and friends. Maybe they don't have the reach of some of the big industry influencers, but they can still help. Again, I have to emphasize, my point here is the opposite of "be entitled and pushy." In fact as a general online rule you should be giving help as much if not much more than you're asking for it. But you also shouldn't be afraid of asking for help when its appropriate. Asking your friends and family for a boost on their Facebook and Twitter pages, especially when your book is nearing release, can be a big help in your push to get the ball rolling. And most likely you'll have plenty of people who are more than happy to help.

So. There are ways that we can appropriately piggy-back on other people's audience and let them do some of our book marketing for us. Keep in mind that this is about being pro-actively efficient and smart, and is absolutely not about being entitled or sleazy or pushy. Have I said that enough? Also keep in mind that many of these strategies are long-term and slow-building; more about building our blog readership and growing our email list than direct sales. But if we use these strategies effectively then when its time for our precious brain baby to be released into the world, we already have a bit of a network in place and ready to go.

Do you think these strategies can help? What other ideas do you have for piggy-backing on other peoples audience and letting them do some of our book marketing for us?

Write (and minimally market) on!

Sarah Allen

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35 comments:

  1. Love love love this post. And I understand why you're having success with Pinterest, because there's a lot of useful information to be found there.

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    1. Oh, agreed. Regardless of the marketing potential on Pinterest, I've found it to be the best search engine and database for blog posts on every aspect of being a writer.

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  2. What a great post! I am thinking of self-publishing a second book and would like to correct my approach from that which I used with my first book. Love this and have book-marked it. Many thanks!

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    1. Oh thank you so, so much! Glad this is helpful :) And very best of luck on your next project! I hope it goes well :)

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    1. Thanks, Shelly! I really appreciate it :)

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  4. Guest posts are fun!
    So are anthologies. Five so more and will gladly do more.

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    1. I agree :) I like guest posting and anthologies.

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  5. Thanks so much for the mention, Sarah!

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    1. Of course!! What a great list of resources you gave :)

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  6. Hi Sarah. Wonderful post here. I signed up on Pinterest, but haven't invested much time. Now have found ReadWave, sort of Pinterest for writing, etc. 3 minutes or less of reading is the expectation. Fits my mold so far and response has been good. We'll see if it translates to sales at all. The bundle and collaborate is something we all should be doing more of. If someones sells books and I'm around, too, than my chances of selling books increases. Nothing makes me happier than books being sold.

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    1. Thank you so, so much! I've used ReadWave too, and have had some success, but it seems a little harder to make that traffic transfer to the website or blog. Pinterest seems to work better for me in that regard. And I agree, bundles and anthologies are great!

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  7. Great advice! And that's particularly interesting to use Pinterest with blog posts. I must admit I keep forgetting about Pinterest, even though I do have one.

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    1. Thank you!! Yeah, Pinterest has been a super great tool in my experience. Perhaps I'll give it its own post.

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  8. I loved this post with all the advice, ideas and tips. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh thank you!! So glad it was helpful :D

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  9. Great list, Sarah, and thanks for the shout-out. For me to learn to take photographs (I don't even have a good camera) then learn to edit them and then figure out what "Pinning" actually is would take years. I would have to give up writing altogether. Probably eating and sleeping as well.

    But for young people, especially people who are writing YA, I can see how it would be useful. Right now the very name terrifies me, since they hijacked me and signed me up without my consent. But I'm glad some people find it fun.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by!! And you make some very fair, good points. Marketing should be about efficiency and if any of these tips are the opposite of that, then they should definitely be put to one side. The number one priority, of course, is the writing.

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  10. Excellent post. It does help me to market with a group of authors. I'm with Untethered Realms, and they're super duper. It takes a lot of pressure off. Pinterest is one site I haven't gotten into yet, but I know I should probably invest some time to get started on it. Guest posts are my most popular posts on my blog, and I get a lot of response when I guest post on other blogs. Definite big yes to that one.

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    1. Yay for supportive communities! And yes, guest blogging has been great for me as well. Obviously you want to be safe and wise with any social media sight, but I do recommend Pinterest. It's worked super well for me.

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  11. Awesome article. There's definitely power in #'s, and I've been causally on Pinterest for a while, but my goodness, it is a dangerous place. Bewteen twitter, facebook, goodreads and the blogosphere... Well, you have to prioritize, right? Build that one platform that works best for you and stick with it.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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    1. Definitely, prioritizing is key. I've found Pinterest to be useful for me personally because its easy to use and doesn't suck time when I don't let it, but the return on investment is larger than any other platform I use.

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  12. The Pinterest section was very help bringing on some inspiration and wild thoughts. Thanks for the help :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. Oh good!! Maybe I really will do a how to post on Pinterest. Glad this helps!

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  13. Grettings from Argentina. Thank you very much for your great tips. When I read about Pintrest I thought: Oh, my... another one? But I'll take your advice looking into this new best friend of yours. Stay cool.

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    1. Pablo, welcome welcome! Glad to see you around. Definitely don't take on anything that gets in the way of writing, but if used well Pinterest can be a fun and very effective tool. Thanks for the comments!

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  14. Still flailing around the social media waters, myself. Thanks for all the tips. I'll have to get a bit more serious with Pinterest, too.

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    1. It can be a bit chaotic :) The top priority is writing, but if these tips make things easier and more efficient, then that's the goal.

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  15. You are so savvy! I've balked at any more social media time-sucks but you make Pintrest seem less so. Maybe this winter as my time is more my own, I'll give it a go. Thank you and keep up the great work!!

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    1. Savvy :) Glad I've got you fooled ;) You don't want to add anything that takes too much away from writing, but if you can figure out how to make Pinterest work for you, I've found it to be a really effective and efficient tool.

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  16. I've bookmarked this post to come back to because I know I need to do more of this and you've laid out a great game plan. Thanks!

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    1. Oh wow, thank you!! I really hope this helps, and best of luck!

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  17. What a terrific post! Lots of good food for thought here, and I'll have to chew over the possibility of checking out Pinterest. I already have Twitter and Facebook accounts, but both have been seriously neglected. Maybe that's part of the reason my book sales have tanked recently.

    Thanks for all the great ideas.

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