A couple of days ago the marketing genius Seth Godin wrote a post entitled “The Professional’s Platform,” which consists of 9 ways to build a professional identity http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/06/the-professionals-platform.html
I thought I would translate them into marketing tips for writers:
1) Online forums, FB, and Twitter are great ways to meet other writers and readers. But building a place for yourself in these nearly infinite communities takes time. You are trying to create relationships with people you’ve never seen. Relationships in real life take a lot of work—this is even more true virtually. If you can’t commit to forging real connections, it is probably better not to mention your books at all. In short, people don’t like flybys.
2) If you stop striving to write the absolute best book you can, your books will start to feel stale, and fail to satisfy readers. In the end, writing a great book is the best marketing tool of all.
3) It’s tough to balance writing with marketing. Some writers feel resentful of marketing duties—shouldn’t they just be allowed to write? For better or worse, there are so many entertainment options out there, including a vast sea of books, that you have to make yourself known somehow. If marketing is always given short shrift, the last half hour in the day, you will fail to get the most out of what you do do. Even more importantly, you will fail to reap the rewards that good marketing produces—a bigger, richer world for you and your books.
4) Don’t stop at selling your book to a customer. Build a connection with that person. Find out what s/he likes to read, then recommend another author’s book. Talk to your readers about their lives. Let them know when you’re coming their way. When you meet them, talk more about them than about yourself. Along the way, you may find you’ve sold a few books.
5) Take the trouble to really learn the marketing tools you use. Don’t just hear that it’s important to tweet and throw a few out there. Don’t put up a fan page and never visit. Get to know your marketing arsenal deeply and well so you can avail yourself of all the riches it might bring.
6) Come out at times other than when you have a new book. Do events even if you don’t have a stack of books to sell. When you don’t have a new book, another writer does. Support that writer. Support the industries that support us—bookstores, libraries, and small press publishers—in whatever ways you can.
7) Memories are long on the net. People will recall who you are and how gracefully you acted—even when you’re no longer doing it that way.
8) Start blogging, participating in threads, and finding other ways to get to know the world of writers even before you know will be published. It’s never too early to create an identity for yourself. People will know you when you do get a book out there, and it’s much easier to say hello again than to cold call.
9) Find a few places that are important and rewarding to you—and stay there. The web is too massive to go everywhere. Deep sunk roots are better than many shallowly strewn spores.
The best, most natural marketing takes place when you’re not marketing at all. You’re just having fun in that most uniquely human of ways: building a web of true connections.
"Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer from New Jersey. She is the founder of the literary series Writing Matters, which draws authors and publishing professionals from both coasts to standing room only events at a local independent bookstore. In 2010 she created Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, a holiday which went viral across the web, enlisting booksellers in 30 states, two Canadian provinces, and England. Jenny is the author of the short story "The Very Old Man", an Amazon bestseller in mystery anthologies. Another short story will be published in 2012 in a book called Adirondack Mysteries II. Her novel, a literary thriller called COVER OF SNOW, is forthcoming from Ballantine."