Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BUILDING A BETTER MOUSETRAP

Sunny here. It seems every time I click on a discussion online from authors, all I see is moaning and groaning that all this media socializing we're encouraged to do doesn't produce sales. Authors point out that we seem to be “preaching to the choir.” Where are the readers we need to target? My question to the whiners is “What's your solution?” Doesn't anyone realize what a huge leap we've taken in the marketing department? When many of us started, there were limited opportunities to aim for a national readership unless you had a PR person to work with (at a high cost). Newspapers existed, but were not necessarily inclined to interview local authors. Self-published authors were looked down on. Should we go back to the good old days where we only had postcards, bookmarks, bookstores to do book signings? Geez Louise. Social media has somewhat leveled the playing field and even big-name authors have locked on this form of promoting. Let me say right off the bat that I LOVE marketing. To me, the challenge is to lure readers to my books. I'm willing to try different bait. Okay, not on board with my fishing analogy? How about this? Don't just think outside the box, look at the way the box is constructed, take it apart and put it back together in a way people haven't seen it before. Make it your box. In my opinion, promotion and acquiring a fan base is only limited by an individual author's lack of drive and/or imagination. We are, for the first time in author history, allowed full control of our career path. Nothing can hold us back except ourselves. Here's one whine I read in an online group I subscribe to: “I blog constantly but nobody orders my books.” I countered with “How many times have you ordered a book from reading a blog? Probably never, or you'd have a house full of books and an empty wallet. So, why expect people to do what you don't do yourself?” What DOES sell books? Aside from a well-written manuscript and creative storyline, personality (and mine is fairly obnoxious) sells books. Standing out from the crowd sells books. Getting attention sells books. An interesting way with words when you speak or blog sells books. Provoking conversation sells books. Whiners and wallflowers don't sell books. Isn't this what the buzz word “Branding” is all about? Oh, don't give me the tired complaint that we shouldn't have to “sell out” to sell. Why shouldn't we be as interesting as the characters we write about? Or, at least seem so with our public image? As writers, we spend a lot of time finding our writing “voice.” Why aren't we spending the same amount of time finding our marketing voice? Dig deep and figure out what makes you different. Bring that quality to the foreground. This isn't just with what you say, but how you say it. Lawrence Block once said voice was like “two people telling the same joke.” It's all in the delivery, folks. The same goes with marketing. My voice is coming atcha loud and clear in everything I've written in this piece. If this is the first time you've read my writing, you might notice I don't mince words. I don't play it safe. I have no problem calling people out. Many of you are familiar with my chafing personality. I suspect you chortle. I hope you learn. Final words of wisdom: When you find your brand, when your marketing voice comes through, HONE IT AND OWN IT.

8 comments:

Sunny Frazier said...

I have no idea why the spacing didn't work or why I was unable to delete the post, but work with it, okay?

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I was just going to ask what happened to your paragraphs. You have to leave a double space for paragraphs on a blog.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

And as an aside, I've sold books through blogs--not my own but other's blogs. And I reciprocate by hosting authors on my blogs.

Marilyn

Shalanna said...

I believe that my YA/fantasy novels have sold better because of my Internet presence; part of that is my LiveJournal and other blogging, but some of it is my wide participation on various mailing lists and message boards. It's fairly obvious that lists devoted to the craft of writing and devoted to readers/reviewers (such as DorothyL) will have lots of people who MIGHT look up your books if your posts intrigue them, but if you frequent other lists and contribute, people will be curious about your books. I'm on various piano/piano performance and teaching lists, for example, and when people find out that I've written books, they generally look them up online. That's the first step towards buying.

What has surprised me is the number of my childhood/high school friends who are on Facebook and who have linked back up. When I announced my contest win, twenty people hopped in with congratulations! I can only hope that they'll understand that when I tell them it is time to buy a copy of the book, they're supposed to do that. My family expected free copies of my first YA novel, but I disabused them of that notion. (LOL) If people like your style on your blog or in messages, it can make them interested in keeping up with your career. Nothing's guaranteed, but then NOTHING really is, is it?

Someone once said 90% of life is just showing up. Luck plays a part in success. But if you aren't there and ready, you miss out!

This morning after a doctor's appt I dropped by the local used bookstore and happened to strike up a conversation with the lady next to me, who needed to know which book was the first in Charles De Lint's current series. I helped her figure it out, and then I thought to pull my promo postcards out and offer her one.

Immediately she said, "I'm the manager of Lone Star Comics in Dallas, and I need book signings in June. Shall I call you?"

BUT OF COURSE I said YES! Too bad that NICE WORK won't be out JUST yet (grin), but I'll sign whichever of my Shalanna Collins books she'll order. I'm currently rushing to put together a temporary flyer about NICE WORK so I can hand that out, as well. Comic book lovers also read mysteries, at least sometimes.

This just shows that the squeaky wheels who are out there and have "lots of personality" get their books noticed! Or so I think. Online, in person, by mail, whatever--first you have to get their attention!

Oh, and about the spacing--I found that Blogger doesn't pay a bit of attention to paragraph breaks, so I had to use handmade HTML in my post. Even then, it's not QUITE right. Software can be so maddening. But your post was perfectly legible, so don't worry about the crazy computer. I think everyone has had software defy them at one time or another!

WS Gager said...

Life is all about contacts! I just received an email for a signing from a bookstore I never knew about. She found out about me from a woman who interviewed me for a magazine in my hometown. Sometimes things come together easy and other times you work and work and nothing happens. You just can't give up. This is what I want to do! This is what I love to do! Thanks for making me remember that Sunny!
Wendy
W.S. Gager on Writing

William Doonan said...

Product placement - every time your characters are having a drink, make it cool refreshing Tang! Seriously though, it's time to think outside the box. Back in the day you had to pay for AOL. Now it's free. The same will be true for books, and whoever figures out the new marketing paradigm will be poised to do well.

Sunny Frazier said...

I did that Marilyn, but it didn't work. Wondering if it's because I copied it off my Word program instead of writing it directly on the blog form.

Anonymous said...

To my surprise I'm finding that marketing is an ongoing task. In the model, authors did a two-three week book tour of promotion to sell lots of books up front and then back to writing while the bookstore returned the remainders. Now the opportunities are non stop. This week I thought I was tapped out on marketing ideas when a blog I contacted months ago asked for a interview, OTP asked me to set up an authors page on Manic Readers, and my local Sisters in Crime chapter assigned me a date to give a presentation at a meeting. If you're open and willing, God/Great Spirit/the Universe will bring good things your way.
Sally Carpenter