Do you blog because you feel invisible?

I did. Or maybe the best way to describe it is that I blogged because I’d been told it was a way to get noticed. I was a writer fighting to be heard amid a plethora of authors and bloggers.

But have you noticed that blogging, twitter, FB, et al are called social networking and not social marketing?

Guess what: If your marketing plan is posting updates on Facebook, sending out tweets, and blogging like a mad person it isn’t a marketing plan, and you are going to be VERY lucky if it gets you any exposure.

be-author-platformThat is a hard truth. Partially because so many budding writers are told blogging and a strong social networking are exactly what you need to be successful. But number of followers is not the same as number of readers, and facebook page likes do not equal fans. Out of three years of tweeting about my books do you know how many conversions I had to number of readers? Five I can name. So maybe ten total. At that rate, I could sell 100 books in 30 years!

Oh my gosh that is not a marketing plan!

The facebook, twitter, blogging solution is so prevalent because it is what all the other authors around us are doing – and it is where we hang out before becoming a writer in many cases. And, as I said, it is where new authors are advised to go. Build a platform, build a following: that is the sanctioned first step.

Don’t get me wrong. Social networking is important and has a place – when used for what it is designed it can be powerful and reaffirming. But it should not be the backbone of your marketing plan.

Great. So what is?

The competition

The competition

You

You

Don’t you hate that desperate feeling of not knowing what to do that comes after acknowledging what you’ve tried isn’t working? I did. It kept me going back to the same tactics, or worse – upping the number of tweets or posts! Usually that would happen after downloading a marketing book that I might have gotten halfway through. Doing something, even if the wrong thing, is better than admitting failure.

Actually, not really. Failure is something to learn from. Accepting it, studying it, and learning from it are great tools – ones that all successful entrepreneurs have in common. Ignoring failure and pushing forward with fruitless effort is a sign of blind stubbornness that will get you nowhere and wear you out.

I took the time to learn the steps to become a good writer. Plot techniques, writing methods and tricks, better editing, crisp dialogue writing…  After all that progress, was I saying I couldn’t learn how to market?  Gee, that feels sort of insulting. I don’t back down from challenges, but none of the ways I was trying to learn marketing were working either. Hmmm…

The first step for me was simply not listening to the moan that marketing is hard and no fun. You get to talk about your book. LOVE MARKETING. It is awesome. Good marketing means you sell books, which makes you feel awesome. Stop ignoring it.

Feel better now?

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Step two: embrace the goal to spend 20% of your time on the marketing that will gain you 80% of the results rather than spending 80% of your time on the techniques that will net you 20% of the results.

You see the reason you don’t have time for marketing is that you are doing it wrong. Totally wrong. And that makes you mad and frustrated or desperate and lonely. Just stop. Whatever it is you are doing for marketing, stop and take a week break from it. Breathe. Do you see a drop in sales? Notice any difference? Probably not. I didn’t. Oh a few less website hits. Those didn’t sell books either. Let them go.

People DO make money from books!

People DO make money from books!

So now what? You just got yourself a week with some free time. Look around at what other authors who are selling lots of books are doing. Seriously. Stop hanging out with everyone who tells you the same thing and look at the people who are successful. Want some good ones? Try Joanna Penn, Nick Stephenson, Kristen Lamb, and David Gaughran. Hang out on their sites for a bit, ask questions, read a lot. Find one that resonates with you and is telling you something new! If they are telling you how to write more effective facebook posts and how to spam groups, move on.

I’ve tried a few marketing books because I love reading. They didn’t work for me. I really don’t know why. I would have thought they would. What actually connected for me was Nick Stephenson’s YourFirst10kReaders program. I coughed up more money than I thought was reasonable and signed up.  And I actually hate watching videos! But you know watching a bunch of short targeted videos and taking notes did the trick.

Some of it was the sort of common sense that made me slap my forehead for not having seen it before. But that is it. Marketing is a mindset as much as writing. Until you develop that perspective you need someone to guide you. But once the lightbulb goes on, you pick up ideas and tips EVERYWHERE. And then you remember the one or two people who did try to give you advice beyond writing FB posts. Like me writing this today.

Do you really want to know what marketing is?
I don't see social media on there...

I don’t see social media on there…

It is a combination of understand the eBook retailers to know how to effectively use their systems to make your books visible. It is knowing which of the many advertisers are worth spending money on. It is understanding readers and trends well enough to know when to place an ad. It is not being afraid to give away your best book in order to develop interest and a following. It is using social networks to talk to fans and find out what they like (about your books or anything in general). And it is about wisely spending money in order to get your books noticed.

I bulked at the spending money part – for years. Until I stumbled on Nick’s site and something clicked. It clicked enough that I opted to get my books back from the publisher I was working with, spent more money than I’d hire an editor to take a marketing course, and then when I put the steps from the course into action made back that amount in less than a month and a half. And others in the course have done better. Some not as well.

Marketing is all about hitting that wall, realizing what you are doing isn’t working, stepping back, and reevaluating techniques. Every genre is different. Reading habits change with the seasons. It is still work for me. But instead of getting frustrated, I’m learning to study and be curious. And not afraid of trying a new approach, confident that it isn’t my writing that is failing, but my marketing. I know if I keep learning, I’ll get it right.

How about you?

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Written by: Autumn

Autumn (also known as Weifarer) is an indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical! She is currently on the road in North America in a Four Wheel Camper along with her husband, Adam, and Cairn terrier, Ayashe.

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