A light-bulb moment: I want to enjoy marketing Singled Out

So how relentless, determined, repetitive, insistent, drum-beating and dogged should I be?

2015-01-20 20.45.01I began writing fiction just over 4 years ago for pleasure. I’ve been writing for business for years, but I wanted to see if I had sufficient creative imagination and writing skills to craft a page-turning story, the length of a typical novel – somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 words. I knew I had a lot to learn, so I attended courses and read how-to books and blogs. Whenever I came upon a challenge – creating characters not stereotypes, avoiding cliché, show-not-tell, learning to write dialogue, precision in description, creating tension and so on – I drafted and re-drafted and studied my way through it, learning all the time.

It’s had its moments, but it’s been rewarding and really, really FUN.

Now Singled Out is ready to launch on 1st February – all the boring background admin is done and everything’s ready on Amazon. I’m looking forward to seeing whether Singled Out finds favour with readers. And… I’m looking forward to getting going on book number two (broad concept, bit of an outline so far, but I’ve learned so much from writing book number one, that I just have to carry on).

But what about the task of marketing Singled Out?

I’m a marketer by profession. I’ve marketed Business-to-Business for years. Marketing a book to consumers/readers is different, but the principles are the same.

My pitch to clients on my marketing website has always been this: Before they buy from you, customers need to know who you are, understand what problems you solve and believe you’re the supplier best able to help them.

In book/reader terms, this would be: Before they buy your book, readers need to know who you are, understand what type of book you’re selling and believe that it’s likely to entertain them.

A blog goes a long way towards these goals. As an author your personality, character, writing skills and ability to engage are on show. Readers have a chance to feel connected, decide if they like you and the way you write – and what you write about. You’ll tell them about your writing, maybe tease with a few samples. They’ll share your challenges, dilemmas and adventures. They’ll feel connected with you in a way that was almost impossible before social media was invented.

From an author’s point of view, blogging is FUN. It’s wonderful to engage, share experiences, get conversations going and find that – amazingly – people all over the world are reading and subscribing. For me, blogging is the easiest and easily the most enjoyable aspect of marketing my book – it’s not a burden, it’s a pleasure. It’s also the most low-key and least in-your-face channel, which is another reason I like it best of all. You’re not pushing anything at people – they choose to come and read.

However… the general view is that as an indie author, if you want to sell more than a couple of dozen books, you’re going to have to work a lot harder at marketing. And here’s where I stumble.

I should know what to do to market my book – and, broadly speaking, I do. But I don’t actually want to DO most of it. Marketing is my work; writing fiction is my pleasure – but when it comes to marketing my fiction, this starts to feel perilously like… work.

So to my light-bulb moment; maybe it had something to do with the fact that whilst in Florida, I visited the Edison Ford Winter Estates in Ft Myers and found out all about the inventor of… the lightbulb. I don’t know. I’ve been saying for years that I envy those fortunate people who are earning a living from something they really, truly love doing. You know those people, the ones who say things like, ‘I feel so lucky that people actually pay me for doing this!’ I want to be one of those people, but only if readers give me permission, by buying my books. And until and unless I get to that earning a living space (somewhere in the far distant future perhaps?) I don’t want to spoil the joy, by putting myself under pressure to market my book according to anyone else’s productivity plan, programme or structure, and by doing things that feel laboured or inauthentic to me.

I’ve decided I don’t want to work at marketing Singled Out. I don’t ever want to get up in the morning and think, ‘oh, no, I’ve got to do… today’, to publicise my novel. I don’t ever want to not enjoy marketing my book. I’ve decided that if this means I don’t sell very many copies, I will live with this. I just want to have FUN with every aspect of writing fiction. However many copies people buy, whatever nice things (I hope!) they say about my story – all these are wonderful bonuses, unexpected rewards for simply doing something I’ve realised I love doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these programmes and their relentless approaches pay off. I just don’t think I would enjoy doing things that way.

So once Singled Out is launched, you won’t be seeing much of me on the book promo sites or Twitter feeds. I won’t be doing blog tours, or pressing people I don’t know for author interviews. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be delighted to do any author interviews – I would! I just don’t want to push for these things.

Nothing will make me happier than if people leave positive reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. I will be beyond delighted if they recommend my book to their friends and colleagues and my sales grow through word-of-mouth. I’d be thrilled to be asked to guest post on other people’s blogs. I’d love to do interviews or readings, panels at events and anything like that – weirdly I actually enjoy that kind of thing. If anybody wants to feature Singled Out anywhere, the answer will more than likely be a resounding yes! It’s not that I want to keep Singled Out a secret. I just want to get on with writing the next book and not let the joy of this first experience be diluted by a job-list of activities that I don’t really want to do.

In life, I’m a rules girl. I follow the rules. I drive as much as possible within the speed limit, I do what I’m told, I colour inside the lines. But perhaps, now I’m approaching the not-so-tender age of 55, I can afford to kick-back on my compulsion to do what other people say I should, and just plough my own furrow, for good or bad.

What do you think?

10 thoughts on “A light-bulb moment: I want to enjoy marketing Singled Out

  1. As long as you accept what the universe throws at you (or doesn’t), then more power to you. You’ll probably be much happier in the long run, and really, isn’t that what matters most?

    1. It is what matters most for me. I want to do something in my life that is more organic, less force-fed. I’m always told what a determined individual I am. This once, I just want to let-go and enjoy the ride. The outcome, whatever it is, is just another episode in the adventure.

  2. As a fellow marketing professional, the key thing for any promotional campaign is to understand how it fits into your overall strategy to meet your goal.
    I pulled back from heavy promotion because I realised it was a better strategy to cultivate readers organically until I’d completed my trilogy. That doesn’t mean I don’t promote every now or then (or reblog complimentary reviews) but it’s only when all 3 books are finished that I’ll start to push things a little harder.
    The question for you is: what is your overall goal? Once you have that clear in your head you can then start to plan out how you plan to achieve it and what activities you need to do to support this.

    1. You’re right of course, and what you’re doing with your trilogy makes perfect sense. I’m just reassessing the extent to which I want to turn my writing into ‘work’ at present. I want to work at writing, but my urge to work at marketing my writing is moderate at best. My overall goal, I think, is to continue enjoying the process of writing and all that comes along with it, and to do that, I won’t force myself into a marketing regimen that doesn’t feel like fun. I wish I felt differently, but hey, this is me, now. But I reserve the woman’s inalienable right to change her mind one day, if the mood so takes me. 🙂

  3. I think Dylan’s response is spot-on. Have a clear idea of what you want to do and then go for it.

    Given my personality, I knew I wouldn’t be good at face-to-face marketing, so I made a list of the few things I wanted to do (get my book in my local indie bookstore and the one near my family, do a couple book signings, let the local paper know, etc.). I put the bulk of my efforts into online marketing. But like you, I didn’t do a blog tour. I didn’t think the time required to do that would be worthwhile. I tried to get my book in the eyes of readers by focusing on online book forums, including Goodreads. Of course, I talked about it on my blog, too–we have such a wonderful writing community, and we all support each other. But that being said, I think we have to remember that other writers shouldn’t be our primary audience. Fans of our genre should be our target audience (though of course, that might include other authors), and the goal should be to find them.

    Once I get more product out, I’ll get more heavy into the face-to-face marketing, even though it scares me. But I think at this point, my priority is to get more books published.

    February 1st is coming soon. Woot woot!

    1. It’s always interesting to learn what other people do, and better still, to learn what works and what doesn’t work so well. I know you’ve blogged a few times about being an introvert, and so am I, but strangely, I do find the face-to-face marketing very enjoyable. I don’t mind being on my feet in front of an audience (oh, would that this might happen!) and I think I could cope with the kind of radio interview thing that Dylan did. What I like less (or… not much) is the idea that I need to be relentlessly pushing away at Twitter, Facebook, review sites etc with that ‘read my book’ message. That just doesn’t feel right – for me.

      I’m not saying I won’t be doing any marketing, just that I won’t be doing marketing that I don’t enjoy, even though people who know what they’re saying, say I should be doing it.

      My goal was to write the book. It will be exciting to sell copies, I don’t deny it. But the personal achievement came in the writing of it. Everything else is a bonus.

      1. I don’t think relentless posts on Twitter, FB, and elsewhere about our books is good marketing, so I’m with you there. An occasional update is fine–especially marking the book’s launch or any new developments–but endless updates annoy everyone!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s