Marketing 101 for Writers

Marketing. Authors hate it! Yet-to-be published writers fear it. And some authors misunderstand it. We all know the buzz words: platform, book events, Facebook “likes,” “Total Reach.” But what does writer’s marketing really look like and how can you begin?

Writing Tip for Today: Calm your fears and roll up your sleeves. Here are three ways to launch your writing platform:

Begin Yesterday.

Yep. You cannot afford to wait until you hold your book in your hands to start building that good old platform. Pre-published writers can start to build a readership long before they land that contract. First, ask yourself what topic (and be specific!) you are most passionate about– aside from publishing a book. Do you write mysteries that involve a lot of food and recipes? Start blogging about food, join groups of “foodies” and set up a Pinterest board (easy peasy) featuring your favorite dishes or recipes. If you write romance and also happen to love dogs (not for the romance!), write man’s best friend into your story and then get active where dog lovers hang out. If you write about religion, think of your average reader in terms of who will be most open to receive your flavor of spirituality. When that contract finally is offered, you’ll help yourself by already doing what you can to build your platform. And your new friends will swoon when you mention that you have a book. At the very least, have a website or blog and pick a couple social media outlets (such as Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest) where you’ll be active. Don’t join everything and then be overwhelmed and do nothing.

No Hard Sell Please!

We tend to be annoyed with the person who is always pressuring you to “buy my book!” This is not the best strategy for building a readership. A platform is only as sturdy as the number of READERS holding it up.. Those who act like used car salesmen are probably not seeing the results they hoped for. Instead, let potential readers get to know you and you get to know them. Be interested in them and their lives–interact with these readers on a regular basis, not only when you want them to buy something. This takes time but build it slowly and you’ll see steady growth. By careful tending the Garden of Trust, you build relationships. And that’s exactly what a writer’s platform is.

To Brand or Not to Brand?

Authors everywhere are struggling with this question. Famous and not-so-famous published authors are beginning to chafe at the idea of a one-flavor writing career. Some debut and newer writers experiment with genres until something clicks and then settle into a brand. Others dive in (especially in nonfiction) and are bound to a topic or cause for the long haul. At the beginning of the quest for a readership, you may indeed need to specialize. But as many prolific authors are demonstrating, it’s possible to branch out after you’ve established your “platform.” Remember, a platform boils down to who knows your name and who is eager to read what you put out. Tell your checkout clerk you write and make sure your relationships are willing to talk you up. The Internet is still free and it’s the fastest most convenient way to spread your name around to potential readers (in a good way of course!) Now get out there and start nailing that platform!

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

4 comments on “Marketing 101 for Writers

  1. Terrific advice here, Linda. Thank you. Writers need to work continually at their marketing–whether they want to do so or not. I tell every author–it does not matter who publishes your book–Zondervan, Thomas Nelson or ______. 80% of the responsibility for marketing is with the author. Yes your publisher can sell the book into the bookstore but all of those books are 100% returnable if the author does nothing (and most authors do nothing). As an author you have to take responsibility for your own success.

    I recommend Jack Canfield’s Success Principles book and the first principle in this book: I will take 100% responsibility for my life (and my success). Just think about this principle and it will stir you to action. Also check out my free ebook Platform Building Ideas for Every Author.

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