Do you believe that your job as a writer is to write a great book? If so, you’re half right. Do you believe that your job as a writer is to write a great book AND to market it to the best of your ability?
Congratulations! You’re on the right path.
Publishing has some dirty secrets. One of them is that nobody cares about you. A second is that nobody cares about your book.
Does this leave you depressed? It shouldn’t, because you can make people care. How?
At a recent writers’ conference, I was fortunate enough to meet Randy Ingermanson. Randy, a master of marketing and the author of Writing Fiction for Dummies, listed the false impressions or pipe dreams that sometimes keep writers from achieving their dreams:
False impression number one: My publisher will do it all.
- Publishers only market the winners.
- Your book won’t be a winner unless it gets marketed.
- That means you need to market your book yourself.
- Marketing your book means marketing YOU!
- To quote from the television show Monk, “It’s a jungle out there.”
False impression number two: My publicist will do it all.
- A publicist can only help you if you are publicizable. A publicist can help you become publicizable by asking:
- How can you connect your novel to the news?
- What’s your platform?
- Who cares about what your novel is about?
Many authors face these questions only when it’s too late (after their book is published), so hiring a publicist turns out to be a waste of money.
False impression number three: Great writing will do it all.
- Best marketing is a great story.
- In some cases, that’s all it takes, but not always.
- Don’t depend on the brilliance of your prose to take care of your marketing needs.
- Be proactive.
False impression number four: Word of mouth will do it all.
- Word of mouth is best, but it doesn’t start on its own.
- You, the author, have to start a brush fire or a buzz.
False impression number five: My brand will do it all.
- Your brand is “what people think when they hear your name.
- Your brand is not your tagline or logo or picture.
Okay, we’ve talked about the pipe dreams or false impressions under which writers operate. What can we do to work in the real world?
My mother comes from Tennessee. Those from Tennessee don’t have ancestors, they have “people.” Upon meeting others, someone from Tennessee will ask, “Who are your people?”
So what does this have to do with writing?
Every writer needs people. Or a tribe. A tribe is a set of people who know who you are and who love your work. Your tribe is the people who know your brand and will work hard to spread the word about it.
Randy listed four channels of communication necessary if your tribe is to help you grow your brand:
- You must have a way to talk to your tribe.
- Your tribe must have a way to talk back to you.
- Your tribe wants to talk to other tribe members.
- Your tribe needs a way to talk to outsiders.
Tribe-based marketing is all about opening up these four channels of communication wider and wider. This does not happen all at once. It takes time and effort. Fortunately for today’s writers, technology makes it easier and quicker.
Now that we’ve discussed why having a tribe is so important, let’s talk about how to build a tribe.
- Post an article on your web site.
- Join an online community and post on the loop.
- Launch an e-zine.
- Create a podcast.
- Start a blog and post on other writers’ blogs.
- Build a set of lectures on the organization, craft, and marketing of writing.
Obviously you won’t be able to do all of these things at once. Start small, then build upon that beginning. Keep adding to your marketing efforts until you reach the level at which you feel comfortable and can keep up.