Everywhere we turn we find advice about what we should do to market ourselves and our books. Some of it's confusing, even contradictory.
One agent might say, "Every writer serious about publication should have a blog." Perhaps another says, "If blogging's not your thing, then don't worry about it."
Book trailers, branding, websites, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, twitter, facebook, linked-in. . . the list keeps getting longer. And we keep getting more and more overwhelmed.
What really works? What should we do before publication? Where should we focus our limited energy and time?
These are the questions I've mulled over for some time now. And so, when I sat down with the Bethany House Marketing Team during my recent trip, I was very interested in getting their perspective on what an unpublished author like myself should do to help in the process of promoting myself and my book.
In other words, if we're unpublished but looking to begin building a name for ourselves and our future books, what should we do?
Of course we all want to help in the marketing process. None of us are under the illusion "good" books automatically generate their own sales. We're competing with millions of other "good" books along with the ever-growing electronic industry which threatens to pull readers from books altogether.
Therefore, it goes without saying we must be active participants in our own marketing. We can't afford to sit back, twiddle our thumbs, and hope our books sell. If we want to give them the best shot at succeeding, especially after investing so much of ourselves into them, we have to be willing to do whatever is necessary.
The problem, however, is that we often jump head first into the marketing frenzy. We try to do it all--keep up with our writing projects, blog, twitter, facebook, make a book trailer, update a website, etc. It doesn't take long before we find ourselves sinking in the murky marketing waters--overwhelmed, confused, tired, disillusioned, and ready to head back to the safety of shore.
Many of us are crying out, "Help! I'm drowning! Just tell me what I REALLY need to do to have a successful writing career. What's absolutely necessary? What will help my marketing efforts THE most?"
In the next post, I'll attempt to answer these questions. But for today, I want to end on an encouraging note, something Bethany House Marketing reiterated to me: Make sure our primary focus always remains on writing great books.
If we're not keeping our writing THE priority, then maybe it's okay to doggy-paddle back to shore, drag ourselves out of the marketing frenzy, and give ourselves a break. Perhaps for a time we need to focus only on writing and editing, without all of the distractions and pressures of blogging, facebook, twitter, etc.
I admire some blogging friends who've done this very thing. They've either stopped blogging or cut back in order to make their writing more of a priority. It takes courage to pull out of the waters, dry off, and rest from the sidelines. I'm sure when they wade back in, their writing will be better because of the break.
I personally didn't enter cyberland until my writing was ready for querying. I stayed on the shore and watched for quite a while. I protected my writing time, honed my skills, and learned self-discipline. When I finally took the plunge, I knew I was ready for the next phase of my writing career.
The number one marketing strategy is writing a book that can captivate the hearts of readers. Without that, we won't get too far, even if we do everything else right.
Have you ever been overwhelmed and confused by all of the demands placed upon writers today? How do you keep from sinking? And how do you keep your writing a priority?