Most writers dislike marketing. They dislike anything that takes them away from their writing, but marketing is toward the bottom of the list.
I don’t want to turn into a plaid polyester-wearing used car salesman! I just want to write! Besides, I have a blog, and it just lays there, doing nothing. How will anyone find it? What difference will it make, anyway?”
I’m a writer who came at this from the world of marketing (the subject of most of my books) so I have a different perspective.
There are so many authors that we’re actually competing for readers. Guess who readers want to buy books from, the author who has a static website set up by their traditional publisher, or the author who not only blogs twice a week, but responds to comments and chats with folks on Facebook?
The web loves novelty. People will find you if you create new content regularly. A static website can’t compete with a blog, because Google (the only search engine that matters) will always give preference to new content over old. Your blog solves that problem.
If you’re concerned about becoming a pushy jerk, well, the fact that you even recognize the possibility makes it virtually impossible. especially on your own blog.
But the secret is, marketing should never be about you anyway. Write your blog posts about stuff your readers will love. Share excerpts, or stuff you’ve never published. Write about your process, how you get your writing done. Share personal stuff, but of course, stuff that relates to your life as a writer, not just whatever happens to be going on that day.
Consider, for a moment, what readers think if they ever hear a writer, saying “I don’t want to write a blog.”
Isn’t this what we do?
You don’t have to write 1,000 words a day. A 200-word post 2 or 3 times a week is plenty to keep the search engines and fans connected, if they’re 200 good words.
Marketing is like gardening. It can be a total bear, or, with planning, some tricks from an old codger, and realistic expectations, it can be a lot more fun, a lot less work, and far more productive in the long run (even if it’s slower growing in the short run.)
If you hate it, you won’t do it. And hiring it out is like asking someone else to love your kids for you. Find a way to like the things you’re doing to share your book with fans and potential fans. If you have to, don’t think of it as marketing. Just think of it as sharing your passion with people you want to help — because that’s what it is.
Spend your time doing stuff you love, and on rare occasions, learning to love the stuff you can’t avoid. (I’ve learned that good Bluetooth headphones for my iPhone turned dish washing and snow shoveling into some of the most fun I can have.)
I’m writing a blog post entitled “ROI: It’s Only King in French” because if you look at ROI for the marketing efforts you’re making (in terms of dollars, pounds, Euro, or rupees) you’ll be disappointed. And wrong.
“Pay this/get that” was barely valid back in the heyday of advertising (mostly 50s, a little in the 60s.) Today, people buy connection and engagement. You cannot measure the ROI on 3 weeks of blogging, until you come to the end of your life (or at least your professional career) and look back.
Ask yourself, what makes you buy a book? A banner ad on a website? Radio ad? Book signing at your local
Borders? Er, Barnes and Noble? (Are they still around this week?) The publisher’s name on the spine?
I’ll bet what gets you to buy a book more than any other single inciting event is the recommendation of a trusted friend. After that, I’ll bet it’s the social proof of lots of recommendations from many strangers.
If you know a surer way to get either or both of those than to connect, regularly and meaningfully, with other people, please tell me. I want to do whatever that thing is.
For me, that connection has moved beyond blogging to more personal and time-expensive methods, because that’s what works for me. You should start with blogging before you become a nomad and spend years traveling an entire continent meeting potential fans. Blogging is cheaper and takes less time.