Monday, November 25, 2013

Promo -- one size fits all?

I've spent the past few weeks thinking about promo strategies.  How does an author go about promoting their newest release?  After talking to some authors, doing some thinking, and reading the latest issue of Romance Writers Report, I've come to the conclusion that promo is not a one-size-fits-all process.

What started this off was attending the local Comic Con back on November 1-3 with a few fellow Champagne authors.  We were situated amongst a few other book tables and it was interesting to watch how people engage with book tables, books, authors, and free promo items (AKA swag).

While my book, an erotic gay romance, may not have been the best fit for a convention that largely features pop culture, science fiction, fantasy, and comic book culture, my writing was still not too out of place.  (After all, erotic romance author Sierra Dean was two tables over...)  I sold very little, so very very very little, at Comic Con.  However, I kept running out of business cards.

My business card is, so far, my greatest promo strategy.  It's a picture of a hot guy on the front and it says "A hunk for your wallet..." and when you flip it over, it says something to the effect of "...and hunks for your eReader."  People snap up the card like crazy.  And I noticed one of the other authors at our table kept having to restock his bookmarks -- people kept taking them.  Whereas at the table next to us, a very big local author gave away very little free stuff, but sold several copies of his books.  Do I think the experience was a failure?  Not at all!  People will hold on to those business cards and will hopefully check out my website in the future.  So I don't have immediate sales, but there is a chance of delayed sales.

And I feel this ties in with the social media marketing I've been talking about for a few months now -- there is no one strategy that works for all people.  For me, Tumblr and WordPress are my biggest tools.  For a fellow author, I know his greatest tool is Twitter.  Others it's their blog, their Facebook, their Pinterest, their home page, their postcards, their bookmarks, etc.

I get people asking me all the time if I'm on Facebook -- and I'm not.  Nor do I want to be.  Yes, I'm missing out on a potential share of the market by not being on Facebook -- but people who are on Facebook but not on Twitter are thus missing out on the share of the market on Twitter.  And when someone who's new to it all talks to me, they ask me which social network they should start with (or if they should just jump into all of them)... the answer isn't easy.

An author needs to promote their work -- it's just a fact about being an author in the modern marketplace.  Promoting, though, cannot be at the expense of your writing time and creative energy.  One of the reasons I will not take on Facebook is because I feel I'm stretched as far as I can go -- if I throw in Facebook, I will be stretched too far and will not be able to devote enough time to writing.

An author also needs to use platforms they are comfortable with.  I'm not comfortable with Facebook and I struggle with Goodreads.  I will not take on Facebook for that reason -- but I will muddle through Goodreads because I see the value of it.

You, as a published author, need to find your own promo path.  It is not one-size-fits-all.  You need to find what fits you.  You need to find what you can do.  You need to assess what is effective for you and what isn't -- and then cut out what isn't.  And you need to constantly try new things, as you never know what will take off.  My business cards were a bit of a whim, but now I've had to order them a few times already because they keep getting picked up.

(I'll return to social media marketing posts next month!  Today is one of the busiest days of the year at my day job, so I didn't have time to put together the promised Facebook marketing post.  Sorry!)


Cameron D. James is a lover of books, coffee, chocolate, and cute Starbucks baristas.
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Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Twitter is proving to be a very good deal on the retweets...while you sleep the little shoe makers are getting the job done!

Liz Fountain said...

I am learning to find the ways to talk about my work that are most consistent with who I am as an author, writer, and person; the added benefit is that they seem to work. :-)