Four Common Author Marketing Misconceptions
As the fiction publicist at Bethany House, I have an outside view of authors’ struggles with marketing—I’m close enough to hear and understand where they’re coming from, and far enough away that I can say, “This doesn’t have to be so painful. Really. I promise.” So, what are some things I’ve learned? Here are a few marketing misconceptions I think many authors have, along with some actual go-do- this takeaways.
Social media is a great platform for selling books.
No, social media is a great way to build relationships with readers. It’s also a great way to find friends-of- friends and connect them with your book, make announcements, and have fun. However, if your goal is promotion all the time, you’re doing it wrong and will be disappointed with the results.
APPLICATION: Practice virtual hospitality. What would make others want to interact with a post on Facebook? What are ways you can create community on your social media? Make your newsletters something people want to read, your social media spaces places where readers enjoy engaging, and so on.
If I’m using social media well, I don’t need to do anything else.
It’s best to use “borrowed” media to move people to “owned” media when possible. Facebook in particular is focusing more and more on grabbing your money. Make sure you’re not putting all your marketing into a rented space that could be taken away from you—or drastically reduced—at any time. Getting people to follow your blog, visit your website, or sign up for your newsletter lists are all examples of moving people to “owned” media.
APPLICATION: What is one “owned” media you really want to invest in? What are some ways you can start moving people there?
I hate marketing.
Here, the misconception is twofold. First, that there is no way to enjoy marketing, and second that you should only do things you enjoy.
To the first point, almost anyone can find some simple marketing tasks that they enjoy or can at least tolerate. Writing a letter to librarians explaining the setting of the book in your home state? Offering to Skype with book clubs or writing groups? Hosting an online party with a few other authors? The ideas are endless.
And to the second point…as a writer, you probably do things you don’t enjoy every day, and certainly at some point in every manuscript. That’s part of discipline. What makes it easier, I think, is having specific and realistic goals so you can see what you’re accomplishing.
APPLICATION : The best marketing brainstorming is done in community, and it helps to have others promoting your efforts as well. Who do you know who could be a part of a brainstorming party? They don’t have to be writers (although if they are, you can all help each other). Be sure to get ideas by looking at what other authors are up to!
Marketing is a waste of writing time.
Okay, so this isn’t always a misconception. There are some authors who say yes to every opportunity, including ones that are a large time investment with little return, and suddenly the amount of time they have to write shrinks. This is a bad situation. Writing good books is by far the most important “marketing” activity you can do.
However, focusing on two, maybe three, platforms won’t take much time if you plan your strategies well. This could mean scheduling posts ahead of time so you can get a lot done in batches, setting a timer to limit the minutes you spend on your Facebook author page, or trying to achieve one small marketing goal per month.
APPLICATION: For one week, take note of how much time you spend on social media promoting your writing and how much time you spend writing. Decide if it’s unbalanced, or if you could use your time better by cutting out some activities or changing what you do to be more efficient.
Do you have any questions for me, writers? I may not have all the answers, but I’ll do what I can!
Amy has kindly offered to giveaway a few Bethany House titles. We'll randomly pick a winner from the comments below so keep those questions and comments coming!
Amy Green is the fiction publicist at Bethany House. Her typical day might involve planning book tours, handling media requests, interacting with reviewers, answering author questions about marketing, and other tasks designed to introduce readers to great books. Outside of work, you can find her playing board games, baking bread, and bravely weathering Minnesota winters. She blogs every Thursday at bethanyfiction.com—feel free to stop by and comment anytime!