Friday, March 1, 2013

Marketing and the Author-Reader Relationship

Marketing can be a particular challenge for us writers. Some of us struggle with finding the balance between taking pride in our accomplishments and being obnoxiously proud of ourselves. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have faith and confidence in yourself and what you create, no one else is going to give it much thought, either. It's all in the 'how' you do this.
I often encounter fellow writers who are shy about promoting their work. They may be shy by nature. They’re timid about blowing their own horn, announcing a new contract, a book release, getting out there and selling the book, whether online or in person. I sometimes encounter writers at the other extreme—the only thing they talk about is their book and how great it is. Striking a balance on this continuum is essential. The overly shy person will go unnoticed and so will their work. The braggart will be so annoying others will tune him or her out. I tended toward the shy end of the spectrum when I first started writing. It was a monumental challenge for me to promote my books without feeling like I was imposing on people. It's taken a lot of travel outside my comfort zone to change this.
The abundance of social media outlets makes it possible to promote ourselves and our work ad nauseum. The question is, does our self-promoting become nauseating? While the arena is open for book promotion, it’s also open for making connections with others--readers and potential readers.
The challenges, as I see them, are three-fold: (1) for the shy, self-conscious or self-doubting writer to step beyond the comfort zone and tell people about yourself, your book, your process of writing, and your other interests in life; (2) for the overt self-promoter, the challenge is to rein things in a bit and make some connections with people that aren’t just about ‘you and your book’; and, (3) use promotional opportunities appropriately and don’t lose the fact that there is a person on the other side of your blog post or on the other side of the table at a book signing—people who want to be noticed and engaged. Don’t make marketing a hit-and-run experience for the reader.
While your book is, essentially, ‘all about you,’ the world of your readers and potential readers is not. I believe when I go to a book signing or guest on a blog, that I’m not there only to sell my book. (Though that is what I hope for.) I’m there to sell myself and, hopefully, my book comes along for the ride and I gain faithful readership. I’ve attended book signings for some well-known authors, including Elizabeth Berg and Mary Kay Andrews. What struck me by both of these women is that they talked about their lives, what their day was like, told anecdotal stories and, then, read an excerpt from their books. By the time they got to that point, I felt like I was sitting there with a friend and, of course, wanted to buy their books. It’s all a matter of relationship.
Linda Rettstatt
2012 EPIC eBook Award Winner - Love, Sam - Mainstream Fiction
2012 Author of the Year Nominee - Champagne Books


Big Mike said...

Problem with self promo is, if done right, takes about 40% of your available time for writing. Also, most avenues you hear about don't really work. Over six years I've experimented with two dozen methods to promo and only about 8 had a significant impact. Its a rough business for newbies. You can spend so much time going down useless alleys.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

linda_rettstatt said...

That's another good point, Mike. We have to juggle time and find the venues that best reach readers.

Helen Henderson said...

One problem many authors have is they only hear the words 'self and promo.' Sometimes what we need to do is not think selling, but visiting. To consider our readers as our neighbors, or old friends, and if they aren't that they will hopefully become one.

Till the next chat over the back fence. Helen

linda_rettstatt said...

That's exactly it, Helen. I look at the authors I enjoy reading and most of them are approachable, friendly. That's an added feature to attracting me and then I'll read their books. I generally find that that ease and approachability comes through in their books and with their characters.