We’ve all heard the phrase, The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I would like to refute that, or maybe add to it. Maybe it should read something like: The road to Hell is paved with the greatest of marketing intentions.
I’m no marketer (huh, that sounds like I should be holding a sword in my hand and wearing one of those funny little feathered caps and riding along two other people with swords and caps just like mine), but there have been some pretty cheesy ads out there and some even cheesier promo ideas from big companies that have blundered and bumbled their way out into the world. I’m not going into the various bad ones, but let me mention a few of the good ones:
Where’s the beef?
Any Doritos commercial
And the Darth Vader Volkswagon commercial
The last one of those is my favorite.
Those are good marketing ideas. People have talked about those ads or even emulated them in some way or other. I know whenI saw the VW ad with the kid as Darth Vader it immediately reminded me of my son, who believes he has the Force flowing through his veins.
But, how does that translate to the writing world? After all, us little guys don’t have a marketing team who is paid to think up all these neat little ads. It’s hard to promote your work if you are one of the small fish in the big ocean of the writing and publishing industry. There are millions of writers out there. No, that is not a validated number—just one I pulled out of thin air. However, if you are a writer then, yes, it feels like millions are trying to get the same slice of pie you want.
What are we to do? Short of purchasing ad space at various websites or in certain magazines, what is the fledgling writer to do (especially with no Big Six Marketing Machine backing them up)?
I know, we can shout it from the mountain tops and…
What? That won’t work?
How about we go door to door and…
What? That won’t work either? They may think we’re religious zealots and shoot first and asks questions later?
What about use various media platforms to posts our wares?
What’s that? You already do that? Oh, really?
But, how often do you do that?
A lot? What’s that, you say? Some folks don’t talk to you anymore because you pimped your book to them every chance you got?
Well, yeah, I understand that. Who wants a friend if all they are going to do is constantly asks you to buy something from them?
I agree, in part to what she says—a lot of writers spam various groups and forums about their publications, but they say very little, if anything else, outside of that. No, those aren’t necessarily Chantel’s words, but how I took them and the interpretation of what she wrote is up to each person who reads it.
When all you see is,
Hey, read my book.
Hey, can you purchase my book?
Hey, I have this book…
Hey, look at me. I have a book I want you to purchase.
Why would anyone wish to buy from you? Sure, readers find a lot of good books by seeing what folks are posting, but if that’s all they see from you, then you may as well be a robot to them. People want to know a little about the writer, not just about what they write.
There are people who know me that have said, ‘I can’t believe you could write something so… so… disturbing.’ Those people, for the most part, don’t know me very well. Either they haven’t taken the time to get to know me or I haven’t taken the time to let them get to know me. The onus is on both of us.
This isn’t really about getting to know me, though. This is about marketing and spamming—there is a fine line between one and the other.
Marketing is telling people you have a book out there and that you would appreciate them purchasing it.
But didn’t you just say that was spamming?
Let me finish.
Marketing is telling people you have a book out there and that you would appreciate them purchasing it and then talking to them about something else.
How are you doing today? How’s the weather where you live? Did you hear this cool song by Nine Inch Nails.
If you are using social media, especially Facebook, then you probably have something like this:
My book, Along the Splintered Path is out on Amazon. If you’re looking for a great read, then please pick it up. I greatly appreciate it.
Okay, that is marketing.
Now, follow it up with something else.
‘Today my daughter had five steals and two blocked shots in her basketball game. They won 58-14. Congratulations Chloe and GO MONARCHS!!’
But, wait, don’t just go ahead and throw something else up about your book. You want to avoid spamming, even on your own page—remember if the only thing your ‘friends’ see in your posts is look at me and buy my work, pretty soon they’re either going to ignore your posts, block you or do the dreaded ‘defriend’ you.
‘My son just ran into the wall on his skateboard—I now must patch up yet another hole.’
If you have a sports team and they are playing, consider posting something about them. “Come on Michigan, Beat Ohio State Today. GO BLUE!”
Post a video of one of your favorite bands. Or an entire play list worth of videos.
Share a few blogs you or others have written.
But. A.J., doesn’t that defeat the purpose of marketing?
My answer is simple: No. What it does is it makes you a real person to anyone within your social network (and quite possibly, some of those who don’t walk in the same circles).
I know the old adage for a marketer may be put yourself in every visible place possible—someone is bound to take notice. Saturate the markets and networks and people are going to buy what you’re selling. Eventually.
Can you picture me holding my head right now? Or maybe smacking it against the wall? You can saturate the social platforms all you want, but eventually people are going to stop paying attention if you are not saying something besides ‘buy me.’ They get sick of the spamming—kind of like with all the political ads we’re being forced to endure everywhere we look. It’s nauseating.
This doesn’t apply to the groups out there that are dedicated to writers posting information about their books. Those groups exist for a reason and without them a lot of writers (myself included) would have very few places to pimp their wares.
Chantel makes an interesting statement at the end of her blog:
If you want me to buy your book, try something other than the online barrage. Pique my interest, don’t drown it.
Honestly, I understand the reasoning behind constantly telling folks about your work—I have done the very same thing. If you don’t tell people then no one will buy your books. I get it. I understand. But making every single posts about your book is going to begin to annoy folks. There has to be other ways, right? Blog tours? Free give aways (if you have something to actually give away)? Interviews? Giving the reader a glimpse of your work to see if they want to purchase it? Book trailers? Bookmarks? Flyers? Newspaper ads? Magazine ads? A gimmick maybe—something to get people talking about you or your work.
I’m sure there are plenty out there who feel differently about this subject. That’s fine. To each their own, but what about piquing the readers’ interests? What about giving the reader a reason to want to buy your work? It could be just me, but I think Chantel is on to something. I think, as a writer, I’m about to try a few things a little differently. I don’t know if they will work, but I hope to pique the readers’ interest.
Wish me luck…
Until we meet again, my friends…