Thursday, June 17, 2010

THAT bad word: Marketing

greatjobThis frustrated little guy is how most of us writers feel about marketing. UGH! Just the word “marketing” is likely to lead us to the nearest, hardest wall.

I’ve been trying to learn how to market since 2003. In truth, I mainly ignored that part of the process for some time after my first book came out. A not exaggerated fact about me: I’m social phobic, and have been for many, many years (yes, I am that old). I don’t mean I’m only kind of reserved. I mean according to the DSM-IV (psych manual of disorders), I’m full-blown social phobic. Well, or I was full-blown. Now I’m only half blown. Uh.. or something like that. Either way, I can talk to one person in a casual setting who I am familiar with and still fight shaking hands and voice tremors and heart rate increase. Add several more people in a group who are looking at me and expecting me to speak and all of that increases, along with the warming face and swirling head that feels like my brain’s in a Tilt-A-Whirl underground with water rushing in.

So, when I read the plethora of expert advice on marketing that all led to … UGH! … public speaking, I just figured I would never sell books other than to family and a few close friends because there was NO WAY in the world I was going to voluntarily speak in public.

A..hem…  Well, I have. To an extent, a very small extent. But we’ll get to that later.

Avoiding that humiliation at all costs, I searched for any way other than that to get the word out. I bought John Kremer’s 1001 Ways To Market Your Books and spent a fair amount of time getting ideas and learning the process. Much of it is geared toward non-fiction or authors with an actual publishing house, so it left me with about 5 ways to market my indie mutt genre books. (Okay, that one is an exaggeration. There were more than 5 left that applied. A few more than 5.) Of course, this was way back before being indie started to be cool.

[Read my post about not so cool indie beginnings here at Lindsay’s Romantics.]

What did I do? Here’s a brief list as I can remember. I don’t remember which ideas I found in Kremer’s book and which I adapted, created on my own. Most of this applied to my second book, Rehearsal: A Different Drummer, since from what I read, I’d lost the “new book” window for Finishing Touches.

~~ I bought my own domain name and used my amateur html and web skills to put up my brand: where the thousands of readers I would reach by my marketing efforts would throng to find more info. (uh..)

~~ I ordered business cards with one of my books featured, along with my web address. (That works best if you have the guts to actually give them out.)

~~ I ordered postcards with the same info, then searched online to find dozens of indie booksellers, printed out the info, and sat addressing postcards each night for about a week, bought post card stamps, and mailed them out. (Please don’t imitate this method. It’s a waste of stamps.)

~~ I started up an indie arts site to feature other indies of different sorts and bought pens with the site address to hand out (or conveniently ‘forget’ to take with me when I was out and used one).

None of it seemed to be even making a dent in getting my name out there, despite some gorgeous reviews from the handful of people who did read my books. I added some of those reviews to my “reworked several times” website and begged a few of those readers to please leave reviews on my publisher’s site! Bless their souls, they sure did, too. Some of them did.

Without results, it was time to go back to more research about how to market. If there’s one big thing I’ve accomplished, it’s that I’ve learned a heck of a lot of “how to” although putting it into practice is another story.

As this is getting long and one thing I’ve learned is to keep blog posts fairly short since online reading attention span is fairly short, I’ll continue this tomorrow.

Come back and bring your friends and I’ll get to how I found techniques that are much more productive than those above.

By the way, I now have my blog organized! Entries are linked in categories. Find what you want to read by clicking on one of the top tabs.



Lindsay Townsend said...

Excellent, Loraine! I feel for you and have done similar things myself. I loathe public speaking, too, and I also sent out posters to no avail.

I'm waiting with much anticipation for your next blog!

LK Hunsaker said...

Thank you, Lindsay! I think most of us feel the same about it. But things are looking up. ;-)

StephB said...

Excellent! I shared many of the feelings you did. I wanted to write. marketing - who needs it? We all do!! Can't sell books without it. At one point I did have my own demain name, but I let it lapse. I was busy writing. Mind you, I should probably clean up my website, but I'm too busy marketing now! **grin** Looking forward to your next installment for tips that do work.


Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--your head feels like a tilt-a-whirl under water when trying to do public speaking? That is not good. I'd like to do more, but there's little opportunity in our mid-size town. However, I may look around. The publisher does help, but on the busier ePresses, new releases stay up a week, then it's not visible. A reader must look up your name to find your book--not unlike how your readers do. So, there's not a great advantage to bring with a publisher when it comes to marketing--you know that all of us still work ourselves to death. You're doing well, though--keep it up. Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Steph, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with it all, can't it? You're doing great with your promo, though.

Celia, no it's not good. And it's highly embarrassing, but like most things, it can be handled. Yes, small press and indie have much in common, including the "all author" marketing, at least in most cases. The publisher is a brand that can help small press authors, or hurt them. I'll mention brands later. :-)

Savanna Kougar said...

LK, I can sympathize with your social phobia. I have a big ole shy streak myself, ever since I can remember.

When I hit 7th grade we had to speak in front of the class. Not only could I not do it because I laughed nervously, but I was blazing hot one moment, then icy cold the next. Back and forth. The teacher finally took pity on me and had me sit down.

So, when I went to college I did the one thing I knew I did not want to do, take a speech class... well, it really did help a lot. Later, I took acting classes, which also helped... plus, I kept plugging away and speaking in front of folks despite my nerves.

I'm not saying this would work for anyone else and I'm not over being shy, actually. However, I intentionally took a path in life that did help me overcome.

Now, while I could speak in front of others and do book signings, I can't because of my health situation. Ironic, isn't it?

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Savanna, those school speeches were horrid, weren't they? I took speech in college because it was required and absolutely hated every minute of it. I ended up pulling a C: A for the written speech, D/F for delivery. There was another class, run by a psychologist no less, that was half graded on class participation. I did my best, even told him about how difficult it was at the private conference he had with all of us and I was trying, and still, he graded me the same as that speech class. @@

However, I have taken measures to work at it, and it's better than it was.

It is a shame that you worked so hard at it and have health interference. It's always something. *sigh*

Linda Banche said...

Here's Linda, late to the party as usual.

So, I'm not the only shy person out there. I've been told by others (total jerks) to get over it, or I wouldn't get anywhere in the world.

You know what? I may not be the greatest success in work (I'm talking the day job here), but I've lasted, and that counts for something.

As for writing, I'm not the type to glad-hand. So conferences and book signings are not for me.

I'm glad that what you've done has stated to work. I hope a few things will start for me now.