To be honest, marketing terrifies me. I feel totally inadequate and uneducated. Most of the book marketing I see and read is focused on nonfiction. I write science fiction and fantasy. I’ve been told it is much easier to market nonfiction than any type of fiction. As I look over the past four years I realize I have allowed my fear of bucking that statement to keep me from doing just that. I have set up a website, http://www.timberdark.com (which needs a lot of work), a Facebook page, https:// facebook.com/timberdarkpublications (which I do pay attention to almost on a daily basis – my one good marketing exercise), and I also have this blog, https://timberdarkwriter.wordpress.com (I am not nearly as consistent in posting here but part of the plan is to improve on that). So I am not totally without a couple of marketing opportunities. They can all be better, more visitor friendly, and less confusing for me to update.
The odd thing is, two years ago I was asked to present a seminar on how to get started using social media to market the square dance activity. I did quite a bit of research and pretty much overwhelmed a group of dancers representing square dance clubs from across the state of Colorado, most of whom were over the age of 65. I presented info on five of the top social media platforms and instructions on how to set up accounts and suggestions on what to post on each. However, I encouraged attendees to just pick one or two to start with. I did not let them know how afraid I was (and still am) of the whole marketing process. I am not currently a whiz at any of this. My learning curve is pretty high and long – BUT I CAN LEARN (at least I keep telling myself).
As stated above I do have three platforms to work on. So, what’s my problem? FEAR. Fear of not being the best or at least better. Fear of knowing how amateurish my website is and knowing how technically challenged I am. Fear of how lame some visitors may view my postings on my blog or my Facebook page. Fear of success. Yes, fear of succeeding is a big one. But, I have to improve on what I have right now before that happens so I have time to accustom myself to success when it comes. Because I must face my fears I returned to my seminar notes and adjusted them to focus on my books and the three platforms that I have at least set up and can improve on. While taking positive steps forward toward improvement I need to keep the following points in mind (a portion of my marketing seminar follows as adjusted to marketing my science fiction books):
You want to find people to buy your product – your book. Every reader is an advertiser whether they want to be or not. What message are you sharing? If no one is talking about you and your books then no one is talking about you and your books. So, start talking – don’t keep this a secret. There are thousands of people who are looking for a good book to read. Let them know where, when, how, who, and most importantly, WHY they should choose your books. Common responses heard when asked why a reader reads a fiction book are “I enjoy escaping to different worlds.” “It got me thinking.” “I couldn’t put it down.” “I stayed up all night to find out how it ended.” “I can’t wait for the next one.” “I didn’t want it to end.” Have you written a book that receives these types of comments?
You don’t have to become an expert on the internet. All you really need is the desire to learn how social media works, a marketing plan that works for you and a way to measure your results. You can learn how to take advantage of online tools that are mostly free. Social media helps you find people who are looking for relationships. Use social media to develop relationships with people to get to know, like, trust you and only then will they buy what you are selling – books, editing, articles, techniques to write better, etc.
Social media allows us to let people know what’s happening with my writing and how to become a partner in that “happening.” Current marketing trends are changing to a more social approach where the prospect decides when and where he gets the information. We no longer search for the news — the news finds us. We will no longer search for products and services they will find us via social media. Social media is not a fad; it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. But if I present something interesting that draws your interest, that draws you in, you are more likely to participate in the conversation and then in the activity.
You can’t pay them to like you or your books but you can encourage them to enjoy your company and the stories you offer as entertainment. And if they decide they don’t like it – okay – go find more people to invite. Be useful – would people thank you for your post? Put yourself in the shoes of potential readers. What do they want to hear, see, or participate in? Don’t talk to people – talk with them about your process, your ideas, your struggles, what books you enjoy or have recently read – Social Media is about sharing not selling.
Don’t want to throw your books at them–Draw them into your world. Post something small on a consistent basis – it builds authenticity. Be honest. Be warm. Be authentic. Be real. Be yourself. Have an opinion! It’s okay to make people angry but be responsible and respectful. There is nothing wrong with being disagreeable or to disagree with an opinion as long as you’re not rude about it. Treat them as if they are in front of you – as if they are in the same room. Never say anything on social media you wouldn’t want known as common knowledge. Never post when you are upset.
Be Positive in how you word your posts. Example: “Do Not Close” why not word it “Keep Open”. Which is more positive? This is especially important for non-English speakers – often the middle words get dropped as unimportant. Keep it simple.
What do you hope to gain from using social media? Conversation, sentiment analysis (are people over all happy with your product?), reputation management (what are people saying about you, your books, etc.). What are you marketing? For me it is entertainment first and then maybe some thoughts on identity and how it changes. These are things you can talk about within your posts, to open up conversations. What is the theme of your book/series? How do you learn new skills or techniques – have you read some one else’s post that has helped you write better? SHARE those postings with your followers, SHARE YOU. Don’t sell your book – Sell you.
So, if I listen to myself what are the next steps I need to take? I need to be consistent with postings and not just to Facebook. Make appointments to write blog posts and DO IT. I need to get out more by attending book signings for authors (who may or may not write in my genres), to find writing/reading communities in my genres and attend gatherings. I need to listen more, share more, read more. I need to visit other author websites, Facebook pages, Goodreads pages, etc. to hear what they are talking about. I need to join the conversations. I need to ask for help when I get stuck and then act on it. DO IT!