In my last post, I lamented the necessity of marketing (for the second time; I’m starting to sound like a broken record) and outlined two common marketing approaches: tapping into social media and mobilizing an existing fan base. Both of these marketing strategies rely on having access to people: blog readers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and people who are generally predisposed to read your books and/or listen to what you have to say.
Okay, but what if you don’t have a pre-existing fan base and the only person who reads your blog is your mom? Well, then, you (by which I mean me) have to make use of the other two categories of indie marketing.
Category #3 – Write like crazy. This is the Amanda Hocking approach to indie marketing. It’s marketing via momentum, and it works. When I published my first book, it became clear very quickly that people who liked Illegal Magic would be happy to buy the sequel. The only trouble was, I didn’t have a sequel.
The fact is, writing is the best form of marketing. Successful authors, as we’ve established before in this blog, write a lot. They write series and they publish new books frequently. That’s why we’re already working on Doom Days 2, The Doomening.
Of course, you also need to write good stuff. But you don’t have to write the Great American Novel. Tell a good story – better yet, tell a bunch of good stories – and then publish the heck out of them.
Writing is the ultimate form of marketing because it kick starts the virtuous cycle. Writing is the path to building a fan base, which in turn gives us people to connect with on all those lovely little social media platforms, which in turn provides a built-in audience for future projects. And so on and so forth.
I could wrap it up here, but I promised you four categories of marketing, and I don’t like to renege on a promise. So here it is:
Category #4 – Marketing as a continuum.
This might be a cop-out, but the fourth category of marketing isn’t really a category; it’s the realization that marketing isn’t a discrete activity.
People talk about marketing as though it’s a single, isolated skill that you can learn, like swimming or spelling. But marketing is really just a way of describing a whole host of activities that help you connect with people who are interested in the stuff you’re offering.
So if marketing isn’t a discrete activity, that means it’s something you have to incorporate into your life in a way that feels authentic for you. For some people that means face-to-face interactions: at writers’ conferences, book signings, and social events. I have friends who are excellent at this kind of networking. They can walk into a room of strangers and walk out two hours later with six new best friends.
For folks who lack this kind of social adroitness (by which I mean me) indie author M. Louisa Locke points out that the Internet is a great forum to forge connections. Guest blogging, commenting on message boards, and joining online communities are all forms of marketing that feel more comfortable for some people.
I’m still trying to figure out what my marketing style is. I don’t mind blogging, but it takes a long time and I’m not sure how effective it is. I’m not a social butterfly and I don’t have much interest in joining a ton of online writing sites. The thing I’m really good at is teaching. Lately, I’ve started thinking about how I can translate my teaching skills into a platform for marketing myself as a writer. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
In the meantime, what steps do you take to market your work?
 Cue sad violin music here.
 Not the actual title. Probably.