With five books under my belt (four in print, the fifth currently in eformat, with print scheduled in May 2015), learning the ins and outs of marketing as a writer has been hit or miss for four years. It hasn’t been an easy road by any stretch of the imagination (and I’ve got a wild one). I’ve interacted with a number of authors, both those just stepping into the arena and those who’ve managed to survive numerous rounds, and despite all the conversations out there on what marketing should be for a writer, what actually works, is the same thing that works when you sit down to craft a story—the solution is uniquely yours, crafted by you, for you, and works for you.
When you first start writing, you believe your biggest obstacle is just finishing the story. Then it’s getting it published. Once you’re published, you’re set, right? Um, no, not anymore, if that was ever the case. Once you actually sign that contract, then the work really begins. Now, not only do you need to produce another story, but you have to get your current one out there, shoving it in front of the right audience, making sure people stop and pick it up, maybe even take it home. And how do you do this?
I’m an introvert by nature (and dare I say, so are most writers since we all live in our heads?). So the idea of actually *gasp* talking to people about my books just abouts set loose the ravages of a panic attack. Knowing this before I even signed my name on any dotted line, I donned the armor of a pen name. (Of course since my actual last name can never, EVER be spelled right, kind of contributed to that decision as well). This gave me a buffer between me and me, the writer. With a minor in theater, it’s not hard to step into the Writer role when I have a name to go with it.
With Jami firmly in placed, I stepped into the marketing ring. I had no idea there were so many options, but I tried many of them:
Website? Check Twitter? Check Facebook? Check…now hold on, a page to interact personally and an Author Page? Um, okay, check, check
Pinterest? Yep. Google+? Yep. Amazon Author page? Yep. Goodreads? Yep.
Blog hops? Massively checked for years 1-3
Interviews? Yep, did those whereever I could, not just web, but radio, magazines, you name it, I tried it. And then I turned it around in 2013 and each month I interviewed some really well known authors. And may I say, they were so awesome to take time to come visit with me.
Paid advertising? All over the damn place, every electronic ‘zine dedicated to readers, I was handing over my credit card number. Books lists? Tried those. Monthly ads? Yearly ads? Parties? Yep, all of those
Actually promo materials–bookmarks, banners, postcards, gift baskets, giftcards, calendars? Oh yeah, for every blog hop, you had an equal opprotunity for giving away print copies, e-copies, or giftcards. I used that. Donations? Auctions? Yep did those as well.
Conferences? Did a couple small ones, then jumped into the big pool at RT last year, complete with book signing adventure as well.
Contests? Yep, but I try to pick with care on those.
Utilizing local libraries? Yep, do that.
And you know what? I couldn’t tell you what works, because I haven’t found the right combination yet. Depressing, uh? It’s hard to take, but I wouldn’t trade the learning expierence either.
Now, it’s 2015 and since I just paid off RT 2014 and my life has altered drastically in the last few months, conferences are not happening for me this year (while I’ve got fingers crossed for one in 2016), I’ve had to re-evaluate where I should place my time and money. Like most writers, I have bills to pay, a family to feed, and, even more demanding, a day job. Most writers have these–family, school, work, life, and because writing is our passion and art, money isn’t coming in by the truckloads. Not the first year, sometimes not even in year five. So what do you do? Do you give up and say, “Well, I can’t quit my day job, so I guess I’m done”?
Not if this is what you have to do. For me, story telling feeds my creative soul. If I starve it, everything and everyone around me suffers. But the one thing that’s always stuck with me, was something Bob Mayer (and many others) have said about being a sucessful writer–write more stories.
My decision by way of marketing for this year are pretty simple:
1. Focus on what will eventually sell me, two more books. Ensure I’m upping my craft with each novel. Challenge myself to take stories to the unexpected, or focus on characters I’d shy away from.
2. Keep my time on social media to a set amount each day. For now, I share interesting articles and tidbits. Otherwise, I’ve got my weekly blog.
3. Be very picky in who and where I choose to advertise. Will it reach my audience?
4. And this year, most of my money will go to redesigning my website.
Who knows, maybe I’ll dive back into the social media storm now and then, but for now, my readers deserve well crafted stories, and who am I to argue?