Where Should Authors Focus Their Limited Marketing Time?

None of us has unlimited time to market everywhere and do everything. If we did, we’d leave very little time for the most important thing: writing. So, where should we focus our limited time and energy? What will make the biggest impact? What’s the best way to reach out to our readers?

All authors must wrestle with these kinds of questions. And the answers will be different for each of us due to our unique strengths and abilities.

Many authors still put a lot of time and effort into “old” methods. And by old I’m talking about the things that worked twenty or even ten years ago—book-signings, speaking engagements at local clubs, radio interviews, passing out bookmarks around town, investing in fancy promotional items like refrigerator magnets, etc.

The old ways of marketing and meeting readers can still be beneficial. In fact, I’ve done all of the above. The old methods have some validity and we would be wise to make the most of opportunities as they arise.

However, in the digital age, we have to be willing to embrace new ways of relating to readers or be left behind. Sure, we can look at examples of well-established, best-selling writers and point out how they don’t tweet with readers or blog. But I’d venture to say that if they were having their debut today, they’d have to do things very differently.

As new authors in a new age, if we hope to connect with readers, if we hope to stand out, if we hope to launch a successful writing career, we have to take a look at what’s “new” and “hot” and find where we fit in and what we can utilize.

I like Eric Qualman’s Social Media Revolution Video because it gives us a big picture of trends within social media. Here are just a few statistics from his refreshed version:

Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old

96% of them have joined a social network

Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year

60 millions status updates happen on Facebook daily

There are over 200,000,000 Blogs

34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands

If you have four minutes to spare, his video is worth the watch. (If you watched this before, this is the refreshed version.)

While statistics are constantly changing, one thing is true—more and more people are hanging out on social media sites.

Since so many readers are online, it makes sense that we should be there too.

However, I’ve seen too many authors attempting to mesh the old and new, trying to use social media the same way as traditional marketing. If we’re going to focus our limited time online, then we have to learn to approach the new methods with a completely different mindset than the old.

Social media is about having conversations with people, dialogues. And traditional marketing is about advertising ourselves, monologues. For more on this topic, see my guest post at Marketing Tips for Authors: The New Method of Marketing: Having Conversations.

Social media marketing works best when we keep in mind three key strategies:

1. Connect: Readers want interactive experiences with authors. They don’t want authors who are untouchable divas living far away in fairy castles.

2. Respond: Readers don’t want a one-sided conversation. In fact, one blogger recently said this: “You respond to your readers through your blog and facebook which makes you seem more real, down to earth, and genuine, and I like that. It makes me want to get to know you and the type of stories you write.”

3. Maintain: Readers don’t want to see us just around the time of a book release, where we’re busy around cyberland for a couple of months and then mostly disappear until our next book comes out. Momentum builds when we stay visible and connected.

~My Summary: I admit, I’m not always the first to jump on board the bandwagon with new social media outlets. Sometimes I have to watch what others are doing and evaluate if it’s really worthwhile before I join in. But the point is, I’m willing to try new things.

As authors in the digital age, if we truly care about our readers, then we need to be willing to meet them where they’re at and relate to them in real ways.

Are you willing? And if so, what social media are you investing the most time and energy in? Where do you think is the best place to meet readers online? From a reader’s perspective, where do you like to link up with your favorite authors?

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