So, most of us have at least a vague idea of marketing. I asked my 15 year old daughter just now to tell me what marketing is. She looked at me like I’d crash landed into the Earth, riding a teacup that was manufactured on Mars, and told me she didn’t know. I asked her to tell me anyway and she said, “It’s selling stuff.” And she’s right! Marketing is the art and science of making a sale. There are literally thousands of different ways to market, but for the self-published author, the main, least expensive route, and the one you get the most punch out of, is Social Media Marketing. Which is, simply put, using the internet to get the word out on your book.
Some writers come into the world of self-publishing with certain advantages. Some of us have a background in public relations or advertising. Some of us know editors. Heck, some of us ARE editors! But many are just people who wrote a book that they’d like for others to read with no real experience in the industry. It’s confusing and overwhelming and often feels like you’re swimming with sharks. And, speaking of sharks, there are many, so you need to get your swimmer’s legs kicking as quickly as you can. I’ve heard it said that a book sells itself. What a total lie! It’s really an unreasonable idea that anybody could toss a book up on Amazon and have it immediately sell like hotcakes. Does it happen? Sure, but not usually to people who haven’t painstakingly prepared and sunk a whole lot of money into advertising. The truth is, to be read, you must be SEEN. Social Media Marketing is your ticket to visibility and you need to know where your hot spots are. And then, you almost need to burn blisters into your fingers to ensure that you’ll be noticed there.
But, noticed where? Again, the overwhelming cry is heard! “What the heck am I supposed to be doing? Where do I even begin?” Ugh, I remember that feeling as I haphazardly dashed around the internet putting my book any place that would allow me to put it. I compare those days to trying to run across a floor covered in marbles. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of sites on the internet where books can be marketed. It’s a rookie’s first impulse to go and sign up for every single one, thinking, “If I’m all over, people will see me and buy my book!” And to a certain extent, that’s the truth. But there are some sites that are better than others and you are not a robot. If you spend all your day hopping back and forth between 20 different sites, you’re not only going to be exhausted, but you may find that nothing is really getting done. In the beginning of your social media marketing plan, I would suggest you begin with no more than three social media sites. I would also suggest those be Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Of course, you can choose any site you like, but once you choose them, stick with them. That way you can focus on growing your brand. You can branch out later when you have an established platform to launch off of.
Ah, so that brings me to the point of this blog. Words like “Platform” and “Influencer” that are tossed in our faces at every turn. I’m going to tell you what they mean.
1. Platform. A platform is just a place where you and your community (meaning fellow authors, readers, etc.) share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. For instance, I have over 22,000 followers on Twitter. That’s my platform. I can count on at least a couple hundred of those people to retweet me every day, create posts for me, converse with me, and help me when I need a push. (I’m going to be writing a blog on creating a solid Twitter platform soon.)
2. Marketer. Simply put, a marketer is a person who uses content to achieve a company’s goals. This means that whomever is doing your social media leg work is in charge of your brand (Remember that your brand is your complete package. You, your books, your image, quality, etc., and all the other things you’ve established represent your product). If you’re handling it, I can guarantee you’re doing so with kid gloves. So be sure if you bring anybody else in on your marketing team that you can trust them with your image.
3. Influencer. Influencers are the people who help customers make decisions. They are the retweeters and the reviewers. They are the people who enjoyed your book so much they tell their friends. They are the book bloggers and the blog tour hosters. They are your peers and your readers and anybody you buy advertising from. They are the people you want to focus on keeping happy. Without influencers, the only people going to buy your books are your friends and family. Oh, and by the way, they are influencers, too. Motivate them to talk about you…but only the good stuff.
4. Persuasion. Persuasion in marketing is the same as it is anywhere else. Persuasion is much like influencing, only it’s the marketer doing it. You have to craft persuasive messages that peak interest in people so they go to your book pages and read your synopsis. They have to be persuaded to buy and read your book. It’s you finding the hook that works and using it to spread interest in and attention to your work.
5. Distribution Channels. These are the places where you sell your books. A major issue I often see on Twitter are tweets that have a great hook for a story I might like to read, but all that is given is the title and no link to the sale point. Those links are gold, don’t neglect them! You must make it easy for your readers to access the place where they can buy your book. Always link, everywhere you go, and use as many links to distribution channels as you can. Or hashtag them. If somebody is interested #Amazon might be just enough to get them to pop over and do a search for your title if you don’t have a link. Still, I wouldn’t count on it. USE LINKS!
6. Value. Well, this is what it says. It’s what something is worth. But, think about it. How much is an e-book worth in itself? It’s a computer file. it’s not worth a darn. HOWEVER, what’s in the file IS and that’s what you’re asking people to pay for. You must find a way to communicate the VALUE of your work to make the purchase price worth it to your reader.
7. Inspiration. I’m sure you know what this means. It means you send a message of hope, happiness, and value to your customer. If they read your memoir on how you survived a polar bear attack on a Scientific expedition to Antarctica, then became a plastic surgeon so you could repair others who have also been disfigured by polar bears, you can inspire them to believe that survival is possible and that good can come out of bad. But it doesn’t have to be insincere. Inspiration boils down to connecting with people. Tell them a story that makes their heart pound. Make them like you, because you are worth liking. That’s inspiration. Just figure out how to use it when you market.
8. Content Creation. This is simply what you do. Your content are your books, sure, but they’re everything else, too. Your tweets, your blog topics, your Facebook posts. It’s all of that and more. Make your content interesting, give it flair. Content creation is your place to shine, so don’t be shy about it. Be careful, remember your brand, but don’t be shy.
9. Focus. Again, I am sure you know what that means, but in the world of social media marketing, we always have irresistible little things pop up. Like new sites and forums, groups to join. It’s an endless drain on our time and energy. So, don’t fall for them. Focus on a group of people who you think would like your books. Focus on creating a voice through your tweets and FB posts. Focus on your brand and your message. Focus, and the will all fall into place. Then, once you’re in a groove, you can fool around with everything else. But you will probably decide that you don’t need or want to.
In closing, Marketing gets extremely technical. I’ve chosen not to go into those technicalities, but there is an absolute wealth of information on the net if you’re looking for information on SEO stuff, or want to get into the nitty gritty of micro-marketing to specific niches. For the purpose of this particular blog, I wanted to keep things in the simplest terms. As these blogs continue, they will likely get more detailed, but for the time being, this is just some food for thought and the hope that just knowing a couple of words and having clarity of their meaning will help you begin to out-swim some of those sharks. Because it will and you will. You just have to learn those long, fluid strokes.