Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Indie Journey: Marketing 101

I've collected many bits of self-publishing experience to stack on 14 years of writing, and I invite you to share some ideas that may work for you--to build your happiness, creativity, and success. The Indie Journey collects blog posts and original material, along with six guest essays from people like J.A. Konrath and Zoe Winters, and puts them into one handy digital package, available at Amazon, Smashwords, and BN.com.

Here's an excerpt:


The term "marketing" is anathema to most writers, who prefer the fantasy of the artist’s life and that they will be able to create while somebody with a power tie and a telephone handles “all that business stuff” for them.
I’ve been around a long time, in both traditional and indie publishing circles, and you can just about take this one to the bank: the writers who cling most fiercely to that illusion usually end up as the least creatively free and the most dependent. Not to mention broke and destitute and sick in their old age.
As an indie, it’s all on you. Sure, there are services you can pay for, such as book-promotion boot camps, blog tours, and straight ads, and those may be wise investments, but a lot of it can be done in the same way any business is conducted:
Yes, the same creativity and effort you put into manufacturing your product can be applied to sharing it with your audience.

Social Media
Social media is a big buzz phrase right now, and all the pundits say it’s the key to everything. There is no one key to everything, only many doors and many modes of entry. People who hear "You have to get on Twitter" may get on and blast their same book ad six times a day, wondering why it’s ineffective.
Same with Facebook, Goodreads, or any of the sites. People who do that are forgetting the word "social." The sites aren’t built for selling. They are built for connecting. Use every tool for its purpose. You wouldn’t use a jackhammer to trim a picture frame, would you?
Balance your time on social media. The hour spent Tweeting every day could be the equivalent of two or three pages on your next book. Even if you generated two sales from your hour of time, you probably wouldn’t make up the money you’d have earned with a new product.
Don’t make the mistake of measuring your value or your audience by the number of friends or followers. It’s been said elsewhere, but you’re better off with 100 people who care about you and your message than 10,000 people who skip right over when you flit through their busy stream.
Which is another point—social media outlets are vast, rapid streams, in which immediacy is all that matters. That’s why people rarely leave the outlet to go buy your book or read your blog post. It’s not necessarily that they aren’t interested, it’s just that so much is going on, they may not want to miss the latest. Fifteen minutes is an eternity on Twitter. Facebook has a longer shelf life but not by much.
A reasonable goal is to really connect with a manageable number of people. Spend time getting to know the people, even if it’s a small thing—a favorite band or book you share, living in the same state, a comment on a family picture. That will not only instantly make you stand out among the thousands of others screaming "me, me, me," it will help you remember that person as you expand your circle of friends.
Some authors have a distinct style and are more broadcasters than interactors. Others simply advertise. Some never talk about their books at all. The important thing is to follow the simple formula for indie happiness: Figure out who you are and why people should care, then be that person wherever you go.
I don’t know any secrets to social media, though there seem to be plenty of high-priced seminars teaching how to exploit it for financial gain. If you aim to give as much as you take, that sounds like a decent balance. Best of all, besides the time you invest, it’s free, but as you know, time is your most valuable commodity.
But it is also your friend’s and customer’s most valuable commodity, too, so respect it.


Stephen T. Harper said...

Great post, Scott. A perfect companion to what's being talked about at JAK,s blog. I'm going to link this over there.

author Scott Nicholson said...

thanks, Stephen. I've minimized my social media because I've come to understand it's entertainment and not a marketing platform. Make friends, not customers!

Regge Ridgway said...

But now that I am tweeting, blogging and Booking my face, I am hooked. It's like a drug. I hardly read anymore. Writing is sporadic. I need an intervention. Please include my blog in your endeavor Scott. http:// characterswellmet.blogspot.com
My latest post the Bully was when I was channeling your spirit. Not really. No one can really channel. But you are partly responsible for pulling me after you on this writing gig. Always reading your stuff. Loving liquid fear. Reggie Ridgway

author Scott Nicholson said...

thanks Regge! I've actually cut back on my social media because I've imposed some deadlines on myself. I don't think they are "essential" but they can be good tools and entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Scott, been a fan of yours for years. I even still have all the Kensington pb's on tge shelf. Just downloaded this tonight but had to tear myself away to let you know how much i enjoy it. The Indie Journey kicks much ass!!!