Back in the golden olden days, big publishers handled authors like movie stars, and dealt with their publicity and marketing with savvy and boatloads of cash. Authors never had to worry about where to go or what to say to get news about their book out to the public. It was all done for them. Publicists and promotional teams provided itineraries and scripts for their authors.
We no longer have this kind of guidance, and few have the funds to hire publicists and promotional experts. These days, authors are responsible for taking ownership of their own marketing, whether they’ve self-published, contracted with a small or mid-sized publisher, or signed with one of the big boys. It’s just the way of the world.
When I talk with authors all over the country, I hear the same question. Am I marketing myself, or am I marketing my book? The implications of this question vary depending on the author. Some feel a need to be secretive and unapproachable, while others believe that their book is the only thing worth talking about. Still others feel they have the responsibility to share their opinions (well thought out or not) at every turn. Opinions are good and often valid, but does this action serve you and your career?
Let’s make this simple.
Yes, you MUST market yourself … and you must market yourself in the best way possible in order to build a successful career as an author. There are ten basic rules to always remember, and they stem from those simple lessons we learned in nursery school.
BE SEEN – Be sure your website and blog is polished and updated regularly. Be visible for a few minutes every day on your social networks like twitter and Facebook. Notice I said a few minutes, not hours. Make it fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon and that will be enough. Talk about your book’s unique story hooks and connect with your prospective book buyers and fans. Don’t hide, be seen.
BE AVAILABLE – Participate when your writing group needs you. Get involved with groups and organizations – live and online – that connect with the interesting things inside your book. Be available to speak or sign books when asked by the local gardeners club, or the neighborhood women’s club as well as the book clubs and traditional genre fan clubs. When the local gardeners club, or any group that connects with the unique hooks inside your book, is running a charity event, volunteer to help. Be available.
BE CAREFUL – Remember, enthusiasm is great and your opinion is valid, but don’t overstep your boundaries. Protect your work by keeping your little secrets, but be careful to keep another author’s little secrets too. Think before your speak, tweet, Facebook, or email.
BE POLITE – Always and everywhere, be polite and appropriate. Just because people on twitter have never met you, doesn’t mean they won’t remember if you’re impolite or unkind … or that they won’t pass the word. Being polite always pays off in the long run.
BE BETTER THAN GOOD – As an author, as a marketing person, and as a human being, it’s best to know your weaknesses and seek improvement. Setting your ego aside and striving for improvement with your craft and your image, is often the catalyst for gaining great respect in any industry.
BE OBSERVANT – Know what’s going on in your writing group or your unique story hook community. Know what’s happening in the publishing industry, which changes almost daily. Keep your ears tuned in to shifts in the market. If your fan base is shrinking or expanding, you’ll know how to market to that audience for your next book. Even if your last book was a great success, without being aware of market shifts, you could be caught with your hands deep in your own empty pockets with the next book. Always look ahead and read the market predictions for book pricing, genre interest, and industry standard shifts. Be well informed. It’s a big part of marketing yourself as an intelligent author, as well as a great storyteller.
BE CURIOUS – Ask questions when you can. If you get an opportunity to speak with a successful author, a literary agent, or a publisher, use the time wisely. Ask intelligent questions, and then think the answers through carefully. This is how to guide your career to the places you want. Listen, learn, and always consider the sources. Are they bias? Are they really answering your question, or guiding your mind elsewhere? Is that online resource always reliable? You’re smarter that you think. You’ll learn what you need, and discard the unimportant information. Your common sense is a stellar tool.
BE PROFESSIONAL – Always be professional. Be careful what you say and do, people are watching. Take pride in being an author and all of your accomplishments. Hold your head high and do what the real professionals do … turn negatives into positives, and focus on your goals.
BE SUCCESSFUL – Be successful every step of the way along your career. Even failures teach you something important about getting where you want to go. Complaining and pointing fingers, even if the accusations are valid, doesn’t appear professional to those watching. Slice the negatives from your life and move ahead, knowing you’re doing the writing and marketing work required to meet your goals. It’s a no-brainer.
BE HELPFUL – Pay it forward in a good way. So many teachers, writers, authors, editors, beta readers, organizations, fans, and friends have helped you get where you are. Reach back and give another writer a hand up. Give them a chance to shine.
That’s how to market yourself well! You’re the product behind the product. Keeping yourself as polished as your writing is the key to making sure that your marketing strategies never hit a snag in the road.
Finding Author Success Second Edition available in print and ebook
Cross Marketing Magic for Authors available in print and ebook