The Mystery of Marketing

     Marketing is a very necessary component of achieving success while on the road to becoming a full-time author. However, doing so can be a tricky proposition.

     I was viewing the updates section of the wonderful, book-related site, Goodreads recently, and was fortunate enough to catch a particular post contained in a group called “Chirenjenzie.” The name really caught my eye, so I gave it a further look. The tag line, “When to pimp yourself out” closed the deal for me; now I HAD to check it out. As I read, the piece resonated with me—so much so that I immediately sent an email to the individual who penned it, author Elizabeth Isaacs. I expressed to Ms. Isaacs that her words rang true to me, as my own thoughts, observations, and experiences ran somewhat parallel to her own. I also told her I was interested in using her post as a catalyst for this week’s subject matter on my own blog. Elizabeth Isaacs graciously agreed. The following is her original post. 

                                                              ******************

     I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired of random people friending me on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook only to follow up with a “so glad to meet you, please read my book” message.

     I’ve run into more indie writers who seem to think this is a good marketing approach. My opinion … they couldn’t be more wrong. It turns people off.

     I no longer check messages on Twitter for this very reason. About 80% of the time I get a “Thanks for the follow, and read my book” message in some version or other. *sigh*

     Here’s the thing. Social networking is just that. Social. We friend people because we think they are interesting and we’d like to get to know them. If they feel the same, they friend back. If they want to know more about your work, they can click on your site, they can look on your author page, and they can join your fanpage.

     I like to think of it this way: no one likes to go to an office party only to be cornered by that one person that yammers on and on about their project, their awards, blah, blah, blah… We hate it in person. Why do people think it’s acceptable on the net?                
                                         

                                                              ******************

     First off, I’d like to say two things to Elizabeth Isaacs; I commend you for having the guts to express your views with conviction, and I thank you for allowing me to re-post them.

     I’ve noticed a growing trend lately. People are becoming increasingly annoyed with the “in-your-face” style some have employed to get the word out about their work. Strings on certain message boards have become mini battle-grounds, tiffs have broken out between a few authors, and a certain degree of back-biting has come to the fore.

     Let me join Ms. Isaacs, by taking the initiative to launch a  “friendly-fire” warning shot across the collective bow of indie and small press authors, of whose ranks I am proudly a member.

     We can do better.

     How, you ask? I’ll be the first to admit, it’s confusing. We all want our work to be read and embraced by the masses, hoping that sales of our books will eventually allow us to quit our day jobs, and do what we love, full-time—write. I know…there are hundreds of thousands of books out there. How do we stand out? How do we get our work noticed by those who have such a sea of choices before them?

     First, and foremost, you MUST have a great book to offer, else all other efforts are completely wasted. The methods needed to achieve this initial goal are a completely separate issue, upon which there have been volumes written. For our conversation, we’ll assume your novel is the greatest work of all time, yet no one knows about it.

     Now, I’ve only been at this game a relatively short time. Therefore, I won’t pretend to have all the answers. I know I’m not an authority, by any means. What I do have in my arsenal is common sense, humility, and the power of observation. I’ve surrounded myself with really smart, talented people who know their stuff. I’ve initiated conversations and asked questions when confused, or clueless. In doing so, I’ve learned a great deal, and made some wonderful friendships I know will last a lifetime.

     Along the way, I’ve tried to determine what works best for me. We all need to do so as our personalities and talents differ, from one writer to the next. That being said, I can’t give you a step by step instruction manual of how it’s done. However, what I CAN offer, is an example of a particular individual who I truly believe has it well figured out.

     Her name is L.M. Stull.

     Lisa began building an author platform over six months ago, prior to the release of any books. I say books, because she has three of them almost ready to go. I find this remarkable, and very savvy. I know, from experience, just how difficult it is to write, promote, and hold down a day job, all at the same time. It simply can’t be done effectively. Lisa focused on writing her novels first. A legal secretary by day, this is quite a feat in and of itself. Her author platform presently consists of a multitude of areas, the likes of which will stagger you.

     I said I wanted to help. I never said it would be easy.

     Sit down, because these stats are mind-blowing. Lisa has a Twitter account, @LMStull, from which she has conversations with a vast number of followers—5200 followers, at last count. Another piece of the platform puzzle is her author’s page, with 450 “likes.” This next one really impressed me…she started on Goodreads in Sept.2010, and now had 1870 friends. Further, there is lmstull.com, where Lisa posts her own short fiction, author interviews, guest posts, etc., totalling 15 different catagories.

     But wait…I’m not done yet.

     L.M. Stull is also actively involved in writing a world-fantasy anthology called “Splintered Lands,” with fellow authors, James Tallett, Walter Shuler, Sam Adamson, and E.P. Marcellin. In addition, less than two months ago, she founded Between the Lines Book Club, which features Indie and small-press authors works. In a short time, membership at BTL has grown to over 100 members.

     To put it bluntly, L.M. Stull is everywhere. The real beauty of it is this—she is, hands-down, one of the most helpful, encouraging, and genuine individuals I have ever had the pleasure of calling a friend. I constantly see Lisa drop whatever she’s doing to help others on a daily basis. Myself, and a number of other friends are convinced that she wears a magic cape, or has an army of clones doing her work. In actuality, neither is true. Her fuels are passion, conviction, and simple positivity.

     Granted, there are very few of us out there who would be able to keep her schedule, or energy level, for more than a few hours straight without collapsing. My goal is not to convince you that you must become another L.M. Stull. My goal is to point out a legitimate example of how marketing is done, and done correctly.

     Lisa is a fabulous writer. I know, because I read her fantasy and flash-fiction work. Guess what? So do many thousands of other readers who have chosen to follow this remarkable individual. Want to know the kicker? You wil seldom hear L.M. Stull mention her soon-to-be-released works. Why? She doesn’t have to. Lisa has built a mammoth platform, and people are literally chomping at the bit to read her work.

     That, my friends, is how you promote your books without pissing people off. I will continue to take my cues from this lovely, and talented woman. I’m truly proud of her accomplishments, and honored to call her “friend.”

     Please visit both Elizabeth Isaacs, and L.M. Stull’s various internet sites. I have listed both author’s particulars below. As always, I would love you to weigh-in with any thoughts, comments, and opinions you might have after reading this week’s post. Thank you for stopping by.

    All the best,  AB

    Elizabeth Isaacs:   Twitter  @kailmeyra

                             Blog  http://elizabethisaacs.com/blog

                             Book Blog  http://thelightofasteria.blogspot.com

                             Goodreads group -  Chirenjenzie

                             Book – The Light of Asteria 

                             Bk link -  http://amzn.com/B004PLNOJO

                             Author page – http://on.fb.me/icpeKQ

       L.M. Stull:   Twitter  @LMStull

                             Blog  http://lmstull.com

                             Books – Memoirs of a Monkey

                                           Running from Myself

                                           Oh Snap 

                             Author page – http://on.fb.me/i0AAdY

                             Splintered Lands – http://splinteredlands.com/

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44 Responses to The Mystery of Marketing

  1. Steve says:

    Excellent, excellent post by Elizabeth, Al, great job grabbing it and reposting. It’s always so difficult to toe the line between chatting and pimping online. We all, for the most part, have something we are or will be trying to sell. But the hard sell is a complete turn off.
    I admit, I read a few lines above and thought, “Do I do that??” When I get a new follower on Twitter (that’s not a hot Asian girl or egg avatar), I do try to send a quick DM their way with a thanks, and two links for more info on me (my blog, and my Facebook author page). Not to hard sell, and no mention of my novel, but to introduce myself further, to show more outlets where me and my work are besides 140 characters at a time. I hope that’s not intrusive; I’ve never had a complaint, although it’s certainly easier to just unfollow me…
    In addition to normal Twitter conversations and RTs of fellow authors, I do tweet daily about my book, maybe 2-3 times listing the Amazon/BN pages, or a new review that was posted about it. Sometimes I feel that I may be doing too much of that, and perhaps should stick with just building the platform subtly. However the thought of a few more people clicking “Buy Now” is a bit too tempting…

    ~Steve
    http://www.SteveUmstead.com

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Steve…you and I have become good friends. I’ll be the first to say, you are quick to be social and actively participate in our online community. However, few of us are there just to chat. We have a product we believe in (our work ) and would like an audience to give it a read. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, whatsoever. In my opinion, there is a balance between being social and trying to sell books. You are someone who has that balance well under control. For that, you have my respect. Cheers, my friend.

      • Marjorie McAtee says:

        One piece of advice I’ve heard (I may even have heard it here — I don’t really read that many blogs) is that no more than 10 to 15% of your Tweets should be blatantly self-promotional. That’s what I try to adhere to…mind you, without actually keeping track or anything. Chances are good I’m not self-promoting as much as I could on Twitter…My Fan Page, on the other hand, is almost entirely composed of “Hey You Guys Look at Me!” I reckon that’s pretty much in line with what’s expected of it, though, so it all balances out in the end. I hope.

  2. Al, your best points were simple. It is work, and it takes time. That is a message that many new authors need to hear from us, those who are busy in the game. And, you are correct in lauding praise on Ms. Stull. She’s on my admiration list.

    Great post.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Hello Joel…I appreciate your reinforcement of the message I’ve tried to convey here on my blog. There are no magic bullets, or short-cuts. Just plain, old fashioned, hard work. It’s the consistent, measured efforts we put in each and every day that will deliver us to our goals. Meanwhile, it’s important to build relationships and enjoy the ride. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  3. Yep! You nailed it. My biggest pet peeve is the Twitter autoresponder. I really think they should do away them. Very impersonal and totally not the point of social networking. I feel the same about the “pls RT” requests. I think it’s understood that if we like a tweet or blog post that we will retweet it. When someone tells me to do it, I turn into that little girl who wants to rebel and not do what her mom wants her to do. :)

    • Steve says:

      Yep – if I get an instant, within-seconds DM to a follow, I know it’s an autoresponder, and that person didn’t care enough to say hello in person. I’m actually planning a blog post for later this week about those impersonal peeves (like automatic Follow Friday blasts).

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Hi Dina…great comments. And you made me laugh too…bonus! I think what we’re all trying to say is, have a conversation and get to know people before trying to push something at them. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on this week’s post.

  4. L.M. Stull says:

    Al….wow. I am speechless. Thank you very much for your kind words, your support and, above all, your friendship. I know I sound like a broken record, but I am truly blessed by all the wonderful talented people that surround me. It is being surrounded by all of this talent that gives me the energy to do more, and try harder. So, thank you for being, well, you.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      L.M. …You are very welcome. Our entire writing community loves and respects your wonderful efforts, and your giving heart. It’s truly an honor to shine a spotlight on your remarkable talents and achievements within this week’s post.

    • Shay Fabbro says:

      You are truly one of the greats Lisa! I am honored to know you, and many of the other great people I have met through FB and Twitter. You guys keep me going when I get so tired of trying to juggle working, writing, marketing, family and friend time that I just want to give up!

  5. Jennifer Gracen says:

    This post was not only a lovely introduction to you, but you’re SO right. On every point.
    I think the art of subtlety is being lost in the Internet age; the flip side of the Net (one thing, anyway) is that people hide behind the Net & get brazen – it’s easy to be pushy, rude, annoying, or just plain mean when you don’t have to look the other person in the eye.
    Ms.Isaacs nailed it, Ms.Stull sounds like a superhero, & you sound like an intelligent, down-to-earth person who not only gets it but wants to pay it forward. Nice people with support & friendship to offer. THAT’S what social networking is supposed to be about. The “pushers” need to relax.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Jen…first off, welcome, and thank you for your first visit to my blog. You made an excellent point about “the net” being a barrier for people to hide behind. We all must remind ourselves that each message (with the exception of spambots ;-) ) has a real human being behind it. Therefore, the same courtesy we extend to others in person should also be applied to social media. I really appreciate your thoughts and kind words. And I sincerely hope you’ll visit again soon.

  6. RBWood says:

    Al-

    Great post! With an announcement of my own coming out tomorrow, I think I’ll be spending a little time adjusting my own marketing campaign. Well said sir!

    And I just finished “In Memory of Greed” for the book club next week. Look for my review soon thereafter.

    RB

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Richard…good luck with the week ahead, and I’m really pleased you enjoyed the post. I’m honored that you took the time to read my work. Thanks so much for your visit.

  7. Shay Fabbro says:

    As usual, Al, you have posted something insightful and useful :) I often wonder if I post too many things about my own book, and yet another part wonders if I don’t do it enough :D Ah, the joys of marketing and promotion :)

    Thanks for being such an inspiration! :)

    • Al Boudreau says:

      And as usual, your comments put a smile on my face. Sometimes we have to trust our instincts, and just do what feels right, in terms of promotion. Over time, the effort and planning pay dividends. Patience is the hard part. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Shay.

  8. Now you’ve made my day, twice :-D I’m so glad you found our Chirenjenzie site! We are a group of writers that actually met on twitter. We decided to move the discussion to Goodreads when we got tired of hashtagging every tweet. Our group is made up of an executive producer of an upcoming animated film, an indie writer that now has a movie deal, incredible bloggers, great editors, and the rest of us! :-D I too feel blessed too have such a wonderful community of writers that support the creative initiative, and I now count you, Al, as one of those blessings!

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Beth…thank you again for your lovely contribution to this week’s blog post. You’ve done us all a great service by speaking your mind on the topic of book promotion. I’m also beginning to realize that behind every indie success story, there’s a whole community of writers who’ve helped propel that work to the top. Also, congratulations on Chrenjenzie, and all of your other successes. You are truly an inspiration.

  9. Shana Hammaker says:

    Great post! Self-promotion is probably my most hated thing. And I know I have TONS to learn.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Hi Shana. As we have been friends for many months now, I can say with conviction that your work (12 Terrifying Tales for 2011), and your drive to succeed, will deliver a victory to you in due time. Keep plugging away, and we’ll see you on the best-sellers list. You’ve got what it takes, my friend.

  10. Al, thankyou! Again. You are such a source of inspiration for me – as is LM. Being new to social media I have found it very challenging with people who are only interested in promoting themselves. I check out the people I follow – to gage if there is the potential for genuine interaction with them. Of course it isn’t always the case, but the intention is there. I am in awe of the energy that it takes to do the marketing of ones creative process. I know the importance of promotion/networking in my ( other ) working life, which is also very creative. It can be exhausting and one can be assailed by a sense of hopelessness when doing it alone. This world – where writers come together and help each other is amazing. I am used to it being just me – and my website – along with a few dedicated helpers.. and a lot of traveling and giving talks. There is no support network such as I experience here. So even though writers have to work hard and produce top quality work, the support that is available to tap into is awesome and also offers many opportunities to deepen our experience if we are willing to extend ourselves and give it a go.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Lovely comments, Michelle. The slow and steady development of a platform is indeed critical to any writer’s success. Our saving grace is that writers are also some of the most selfless and friendly individuals on earth. The support we give and receive makes the journey a pleasure, laced with smiles and laughter. As always, I really appreciate your contribution to my weekly posts.

  11. theaatkinson says:

    the voice of reason once again, Al. this was an awesome post. I see LM’s posts all the time on twitter and she is indeed all you say she is.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you Thea. You are another wonderful link in the lovely silver chain of friends and support that I know and love. Thank you so much for that. And yes, L.M. Stull is truly a phenom. I’m proud to have her in my circle of friends.

  12. Phil Bowyer says:

    Al, thanks for the great post. Many people give up on social media because it “doesn’t work”, but the reason that it’s not working for them is because they focus on the “media” and not the “social”.

    You rattled off a bunch of stats, which are pretty impressive, but I just hope everybody doesn’t focus too much on the numbers game. Obviously the higher the count, the greater the reach, but the thing that’s really important is how you interact with those people. Having 5000 followers is great, but you can’t interact with all 5K of them. Make an impact with a core group or your target audience, and let them spread the word- and so on, and so on….

    You’re doing a great job Al, keep up the good work!

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Hi Phil…your point about the numbers is very well taken. It really is about conversations, and communication with those who you connect with—the “social” aspect of social media. It’s interesting…there are days when I become so immersed in conversations with those in our community, I nearly forget about my book sales all together. And those are the days that I feel most alive. Thank you so much for your contribution.

  13. Great post, Al–it takes a while to understand there is such a thing as “happy marketing.” I believe if you do what you do with good intentions instead of ego intentions, the seeds will sprout. This is some great food for thought.

    Not trying to hijack your blog but I posted some parallel sentiments, though focused less on marketing and more on the spiritual mission of your writing goals, at http://www.indiereader.com. Always good to hear your thoughts.

    Scott

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Hi Scott…very good point about ego-driven goals. Most people I know, readers and writers alike, scatter when big egos enter the room. I keep hearing the term “coalition, not competition” in regard to our writing community. I think it sums things up nicely. Your visit and comments are much appreciated.

  14. I just recently signed up for Twitter. I’m already nauseated by the “Spam Greetings” from people trying to peddle me thier books. Fortunately, majority of the greetings are from people just saying “hello”.

    http://christopherdavidpetersen.wordpress.com/

  15. timqueeney says:

    Great stuff here, Al. It’s cool to learn about Lisa and her effective online presence. It is a vexing issue of how much to promote, how much to interact and how much to provide interesting content. I’ve tried to take the content approach by doing a news satire site. This is fun for me (and presumably people who stop by to read) and my traffic is slowly growing. One way to build a platform, I guess.

    Doesn’t seem like there’s any one way to promote/interact/provide content that always works. Many have said that we’re still in the early days of ebooks and self publishing. How do you guys think the self-publishing gig will change in the future?

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Hi Tim…first off, welcome to my blog. Your approach to building a platform, and informing the world about you and the talents you posess, is very creative. And that’s the beauty of it all—each individual’s character, and personality, spawns a unique approach to promotion. The key—tapping one’s own skills and talents, to draw people toward your unique “brand.”

      In terms of your question about self-pubbing and the future, I believe quality will dictate each individuals success, or failure. The bottom line—create work that is both unique, and well presented, and success will likely follow. Thank you for your contribution to this week’s topic.

  16. timqueeney says:

    Al, thanks. Glad I found your site.

    I was also wondering if your readers had thoughts about how the structure of publishing will change. If print continues to shrink, what might happen to the traditional publishers? What will happen to all the literary agents [arrghh!, try to remain civil when talking about agents] currently plying their trade?

    Curious to hear what people speculate might happen.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Like the buggy-whip, and the eight-track tape player, some industries will simply cease to exist, while other entities and disciplines will be absorbed into the changing landscape, and adapt to a new reality—what ever that ends up being. The times, they are achangin’.

  17. Wow Al, you’re a popular guy! I’ve never gotten this many comments on a post before. Thanks again for including me! :-D

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Thank you for making it possible, Elizabeth. I saw your post, and knew it was destined to be a hot topic. The pleasure of having you guest post is entirely mine.

  18. Now you’re batting 1,000! You’ve made my day … again!

  19. Dannie says:

    Al. This is a great topic and you seem to find things that make us all think. LM is something! I’m sitting here just waiting for her book. Is she doing this to torment me? And I would like Elizabeth to read one of my books– just kidding.

    Many writers– and I’m at the top of the list– have little skill in the art of pimping. But it must be done and I want to say you have shown me a kinder, gentler and the truth be told, a much better way to communicate. LM also has her finger on the red button. I’m so excited that I know what LM stand for. I feel like a groupie.

    Thanks for your insite, Al.

    • Al Boudreau says:

      Dannie…I’m quite certain there’s not a writer out there who couldn’t learn something from L.M. Stull. And like you, I can’t wait to read Lisa’s work either. Living proof that her methods work, yes?

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