January 13th, 2013

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Continuing the Discussion on Marketing

I certainly don't claim to be an expert on marketing.  I've found over the years that when I get to the point where I can write about something as I'm doing now, that I have at least a basic understanding of it.  Also the process of writing about it helps me to better understand it.  So here is the next installment as I develop a keener sense of marketing.  And for anyone who didn't feel like reading or scanning through Anne Mini's posts to see the numerous installments of her video interview with me, I shall attempt to provide links to the first two segments here.

More on Marketing

            I haven’t talked a lot about computers, the web, or the internet when it comes to the marketing effort.  We did mention blogs, but we did not talk at length about them.  Today, let’s explore that innovation that has revolutionized the writing and publishing industry.  Over the past two or three decades, the computer has become the great equalizer.  It has leveled the playing field for self and alternatively published authors.  Today it is possible to write, edit, critique, publish, and market books, all from the computer keyboard.  Even publishing a traditional hardcopy book can largely be done from the computer screen.  Rather than getting bogged down in theory, I’ll talk a little about what I’ve done, what I’m doing, and what I hope to do in the future.  I’ll mention these in the order I discovered and began using them.

            Today we use e-mail extensively in writing and publishing, but we probably don’t consider it as a marketing tool.  Is there an easier way to tell family and friends that one’s book has been published and is available?  When Beyond the Ocean’s Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story was published last May, one of the first things I did was e-mail everyone I could think of and tell them the good news.  I have a fairly large e-address book with over 200 people, because of my association with Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers and the Inland Northwest Corvair Club.  I have e-mail contacts in other writing groups and other automotive clubs, not to mention family and friends.  When I received word via e-mail that my book was out, I e-mailed most of these folks, telling them the book had been published and where it could be obtained.

            One thing I should have done but did not do was to politely suggest that folks forward my message to those on their contact list.  If I sent the original message to 200 people, and if each of those forwarded it to just ten of their friends, 2,000 people would be aware of my book’s availability.  If everyone who got the message sent it on to ten more folks, it wouldn’t take long until as many as two million people knew about it.  If one in a thousand bought a copy, I would have sold 2,000 copies, quite an achievement for a self-published author.  A basic of marketing is letting people know one’s book has been published and is available.

            We can also include a signature on every e-mail we send.  I have a little blurb that gives my penname, URLs and links to my web-site, Live Journal page, and mentions the availability of my book.  If the signature is not appropriate for a particular e-mail, I can easily delete it from that message.  This is an easy, no cost way to gain a little advertising.

            One universal bit of advice a writer hears is to have a blog, more properly a web-log or on-line journal.  In a roundabout way I ended up with a Live Journal account.  A few years ago I discovered an author whose books I enjoy, and later found her on Live Journal.  I wanted to comment on something she posted, but she had disallowed anonymous commenting.  In order to comment, I signed up for my own account.  Since I had it, I figured I might as well use it.  I started posting a little about my writing progress, talking amongst other things, about what I’d learned regarding the writing and publishing process.

            There is a social media aspect to Live Journal, in that one can friend or be friended by other account holders.  Friending simply means that you can view someone’s posts by going to your Friends Page, rather than by going to a specific account.  Likewise, those who have friended you can see your posts on their Friends Pages.  Over time I developed a small friends list and equally important, others added me to their friends list.  This is another group that can be told about the publication and availability of one’s work.  Amongst these folks were individuals with whom I could discuss the ups and downs of the writing and publishing process.

            Live Journal also has communities for individuals who share common interests.  Posts to a community are seen by everyone the community, regardless of having friended one or not.  Depending upon the community’s internal rules, posting there is another way to publicize one’s book, especially if there is a connection to the community’s shared interest.  Since my writing was originally inspired by the Hornblower stories and is of the same basic genre as C. S. Forester’s tales, it is easy to imagine that a community of Horatio Hornblower fans might be interested in The Stone Island Sea Stories.

            This is about as long as I like for things I’m going to post.  Next time I’ll talk about web-sites, Face Book, and making folks aware of one’s on-line presence.

P. S.  Currently reading Patrick O'Brian's The Mauritius Campaign, book 4 in the Aubrey/Maturin series.  It's my second read of the of the series, and as with Forester's Hornblower stories, I'm getting more out of it than I did the first time.