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!


  1. This is a bookmark-worthy post, for sure. :)

    And WOW to your upcoming events! So exciting.

  2. I haven't ever tried to market a book but I have to agree with you. Book signings take up a whole day. I'd make sure to go where I had writer friends who will show up! I think more will come out of virtual marketing. You have some great plans!

  3. Building and nuturing here with a little buzzing going on, too.

    What a cute & creative post, Jody!

    Smart. The advice & the delivery.
    ~ Wendy

  4. Goodmorning, ladies! Yes, I definitely have a lot going on over the next couple of months. And in the process I'll be learning what is really most effective and what isn't! I'll be sure to report back! :-)

  5. Marketing... ahh, the necessary evil! Okay, fine it's not evil, but it is NOT easy either! You, however, are doing a fabulous job!

    As much as we complain about not being able to "market" when we are unpublished, I think YOU are a great example of what you need to do BEFORE you are published.

    NETWORK! If you have a solid online network of friends BEFORE you are published, they can help you go "viral" after you are published.

  6. My favourites is going to be full of your posts, lexcellent.

  7. I can hear a steady buzzing getting louder and louder. Seriously can't wait to read The Doctor's Lady!

  8. I love that you list your blog tour sites and dates of posts as "events," which they are! But that makes it so easy for readers to view where an interview up and kindly helps spread the word for those blogs, too.

    And thanks so much for holding the book trailer contest! I'm surprised and excited I won! Though I'm an occasional commenter, I'm a very regular reader. You bless so many with sharing your knowledge.

  9. Great analogy, Jody! And I love and agree with your promotion philosopy!

  10. Great advice! I'm currently writing my first novel and using this time to build my nest. It's nice to realize I'm on the right track, no matter what happens once the novel is written.

  11. Jody, this was so clever! Unpublished authors like me are watching you and taking note. Thanks for the great advice.

  12. I always learn from you, Jody. Just wish I had more time to visit more often!

    I hope you're heading to ACFW conference this year. I'd love to see you again!

  13. Hey, what a great analogy, Jody! You're very gifted with your understanding of social media. Thanks for the advice. I'm looking forward to starting all this in a few months as well. It's a little nerve-wracking. But it's encouraging to watch people like you who have done well with social media and marketing.

  14. Your blog and publicity ideas are pure gold. I can't wait to see how they succeed.

  15. Awesome post! Love what you have to say about losing the old ways and embracing the new. :D

  16. Wonderful! Thank you for continuing to share your experience and know how. Don't forget to register your giveaway with the blogfest to help draw more attention!

  17. I was wondering where this would go when I read the title, LOL. But I know you're a stand-up lady, Jody, so I wasn't worried. :)

    Great advice...I love the long-term and short-term approaches. What a smart strategy.

  18. Jody,
    So very clever. Thanks for the terrific tips.

  19. Thanks Susan and everyone! The more creative we can get about marketing, the better! :-)

  20. The photo at the top of your post says it all for me: Marketing is a blur, just a blur sometimes. I want to make it stop. I want to get off the ride.
    But it's not an option, is it?
    Thank God (truly, thank God!) that I'm not on this crazy marketing merry-go-round by myself. Others--like you--show me how to hang on and get the used to the demands of a writer's life. (And marketing yourself is not optional, no matter how much we wish it was!)
    Thanks, Jody, for an excellent post--and a great visual!

  21. This is great information, and I love your ideas for the "buzz." I had reasonably good luck with my first nonfiction book--they expected the first run to last two seasons, and sold most of them--but it was definitely small time compared to what I will need when I get to the point of marketing a novel (WHEN. Not IF. Positive attitude!) I'm looking forward to putting these ideas into play.

    One question--do you purchase author copies to use for giveaways?

  22. I love the theme you created for this post. Thanks for all the helpful comments.

  23. Cute play on words! I'll be keeping this in mind.

  24. I am loving these parade of posts from Rachelle's gals! So awesome and SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO helpful (was that enough O's for you). Thanks for all the tips, Jody!

    Jenny Lee Sulpizio

  25. Cute analogy, and I love your tactical ideas for generating buzz. It sounds like you're having fun with it too!

  26. Kathleen Basi asked: One question--do you purchase author copies to use for giveaways?

    Hi Kathleen, as part of my contract, my publisher agrees to give me a certain number of author copies. When I go beyond that limit, then I need to purchase them from my publisher, but can do so at a reduced rate.

  27. Hi Jody, I love that you post reader's photos with your book. I had never seen that before until The Preacher's Bride and thought it was so sweet. I showed it to at least a dozen of my friends.


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