Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday Think Tank: Tara Lain's Take on Marketing

Hello everyone! Sorry about the late start to your Thursday Think Tank reading... I tripped over my lack of computer savvy again today. No, really. So I offer my abject apologies, and ask that you make sure to take a moment to enjoy the wisdom that Tara Lain brings us in this venture of gleaning wisdom about marketing. Next week I'll have a post from the other side, not an author but a marketing pro... and it's gonna be well worth the wait to hear the good stuff spilling from the lips of Lori Bell, one of the founders of the M/M Romance Group (now over 11,000 strong) on Goodreads. For now, please, pull up a cushion, place your order with the cabana boys for whatever your favorite beverage is, and learn at the dainty ankles of a brilliant marketeer. That's like a Musketeer, but championing great books rather than the Queen of France. :)

It’s Fun, dammit! 

Hi! Thank you, Cherie, for asking me to pop in and offer some marketing suggestions today. Some very terrific authors have preceded me with good advice, so I won’t repeat their tips, but will try to add a few footnotes and thoughts. You may know that my day job is in marketing, so when I was first published as a fiction writer in 2011, I had strong marketing instincts. Marketing books is different than marketing medical devices and industrial instrumentation like my clients, but underlying principles stay the same. Here are a few things to consider: 
·         Yes it is your job, so you might as well enjoy it. Even today, some new authors are in shock when they discover that their publishers aren’t going to promote them much at all. We all have to do it ourselves. In fact, publishers consider your marketing platform when they consider your book. Are you doing enough to get that first book out the gate and maintain momentum as other books come out? There’s a mountain of competition in romance today. More than there has ever has been. About one-third of your “author” time will likely be spent on marketing yourself, learning new techniques, and building a solid marketing platform. Could you write more books if you didn’t have to do this? Yes. Would more people buy them? No.
·         Writing another great book is NOT your best marketing strategy. When I started, a lot of great authors told me that writing a good book is your best marketing approach. I loved them, but I didn’t believe them. Even in 2011, my market situation was different from when they started a few years before. They had less noise in their market and less competition. It was easier for the cream to rise to the top. So I marketed my butt off. Not always effectively -- but consistently. The situation today is three times harder than when i started. Self-publishing and the rise of many small publishers have expanded the readers’ choices to infinity. YES, you must write a great book and then another one and another one. But marketing smart is absolutely essential or you’ll just write a lot of great books that no one reads.
·         Generosity is the best policy. Give stuff away. What better way to show readers how great you are than to give them samples. Share your ideas and your sparkling prose. Give away prizes and free books. I even think it’s smart for authors to consider a publisher’s support for giving things away when they decide to submit to them.
·         Consistency is the absolute bottom line. ZAM said this but I want to repeat it. Authors always come and ask me “What marketing works?” I tell them the marketing they do all the time. There is NO magic bullet. Find what you enjoy or at least what you can stand to do and keep doing it. In a branding exercise, I asked readers on my blog what they think of when they see my name or one of my books. One woman replied, “I think ‘I see her name everywhere and I need to check her out’.” That’s what you want. It takes six or more exposures to get someone to even notice you and many more to get them to take action. It’s water on the rock. Eventually, you have the Grand Canyon!

I want to reinforce that marketing is not about selling stuff. It’s creating an environment in which sales can take place. It’s you forming a relationship with potential readers and sharing your best with them.  As someone in some movie sometime said, “It’s FUN, dammit!”  LOL 

Places to find Tara on the Web: