The Birds & the Bees of Marketing

No one ever sat me down and explained the birds and the bees of marketing. In fact, most of what I’ve learned has come from experience and from fellow classmates on the playground of the writing world.

However, in an effort to spare you some hard knocks and embarrassment, I thought I’d share the basics of what I’ve learned so far:

1. Focus most of your attention online.

Guess how many book signings I did for The Preacher's Bride? Two. Yep. Only two. Guess how many I have planned for The Doctor's Lady? One. Why? Why haven’t I focused more attention on traveling around, visiting libraries, book clubs, etc?

Because most people have gone virtual. Very few of even the biggest name authors get turnouts at book signings or other events. When we struggle to find time to write much less market, we have to maximize our energy, be as efficient as we can, and protect our scared writing time. That means I’ve chosen to focus most of my marketing efforts in cyberland.

But . . . we can’t hope to succeed with online marketing if we use traditional tactics. The days of billboards, ads, and spam are over. Those methods are old-fashioned and won’t work in the virtual world. That’s why it’s so important for writers to learn the birds and bees of how to make online marketing work.

2. The Birds: Nurture your nest.

The first and most important aspect of online marketing is to build a welcoming nest (a home base) where we can begin to connect with others. For many writers, the home base is our blog because we can have open dialog and build connections with others in a way that just can’t be accomplished through other social media (although I have seen some authors do a fantastic job interacting on Facebook).

Once we have a nest, we need to nurture those who come to it. Our focus needs to be on finding ways to lift our wings and provide shelter and encouragement to those who enter our folds. Build friendships and mutually care for one another. Enjoy being social, and generously love those around us. When we’re doing that, eventually our flock will grow into a large family.

If we build and nurture our nest, then when it’s time for a book release or some other writer milestone, our “family” will be there to naturally help us, the same way we will be there for them.

3. The Bees: Generate buzz.

Yes, we need our nest. But . . . we can’t stop there. We have to make an effort to start the buzz about our books. Buzz is the chatter, the excitement, the hype that surrounds our book. The more people hear about our books and see the name, the more “important” the book grows throughout cyberland.

We can generate buzz in numerous ways. Here are just a few ways I’m buzzing about The Doctor’s Lady, which releases in less than a month:

• I put a countdown widget in my sidebar.

• I had a video trailer contest last week (see below for the two winners!).

• I’m doing weekly book giveaways (starting next week).

• I’m hosting a blog tour with LOTS of book giveaways for the months of Sept. & Oct. (see the list on my Events page).

• I’m kicking off release day (Sept. 1) with a bang by having a HUGE social network sharing contest that will last several weeks. (You will not want to miss this!)

• I’ll ask readers to send me pictures of them with my book and post them on my blog, website, and facebook.

• I’ll be tweeting and posting to facebook about the various above events.

In other words, I need to start the buzz—I can’t sit back and do nothing. I can’t wait for someone else to do the work for me. Rather, I need to step out of my comfort zone and gently send out the first buzz. And yet, the sound throughout cyberland will be like a whisper through my efforts alone.

But then my friends and online family will pick up the buzz and make it louder. With all of their generous support, the buzz will keep vibrating, growing stronger and being heard much further than I could ever hope to accomplish on my own.

So there you have it. The birds and the bees of online marketing! Nurture your nest, start some buzz. And watch what happens!

What about you? Are you building and nurturing a nest? And if you’re at the place where you need to start the buzz, what are some ways you’ve done that?

P.S. The winners of The Doctor's Lady Trailer Contest are: Caroline @Keep_Tha_Faith and Lisa Groves! Congratulations!! Thank you EVERYONE for joining in! I really enjoyed reading all of your thoughts about the trailer!

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