Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Made My Peace with Marketing

If anyone wants a quick education in how writers should market themselves online, go to this post. But it's not the post, it's the comments. When I posed the questions, my awesome, amazing and incredibly good-looking followers gave over fifty intelligent, well-thought out opinions on the conundrum of online promotion.

Seriously, whatever marketing answers you need are in these comments. I've pondered them at length and have finally made my peace with marketing.

It's my blog and if I want to talk about my books, my writing, my editor, my publisher, my pet projects like Celery Tree or the maple trees I planted last summer, then I can and I will. However, I like to consider your feelings. After two and a half years, I've got a pretty good idea of what you like and what you don't, so I try to respect that.

My author website contains plenty of information about my books, so I don't need to use my blog for that purpose. It simplifies things, and I like the arrangement--having my website for my book information and my blog for random whatever. I maintain the Celery Tree blog but this one gets the most traffic, so I'll occasionally write a post here featuring Celery Tree. Why should anyone care if I do that?

I'm involved with day to day operations with WiDo Publishing, and from time to time I post about publishing/editing/submitting information. I think writers enjoy those kinds of posts. Not that I'm promoting WiDo. A publishing company doesn't really need to be promoted. Submissions pour in just by the fact of its existence.

I no longer believe that blogging sells books. WiDo has authors who blog endlessly and others who don't at all. People buy what they want to read whether the author is blogging or not. It's more the cover, title, genre, quality, themes and story that sell a particular book, not the writer's online presence. I'm not saying blogging hurts, unless the blogger comes across as a big jerk, and it MAY help, but it certainly is no guarantee! It may not even be necessary.

This relieves a huge amount of pressure. I can now blog for fun and enjoyment and camaraderie rather than for promotional purposes. I've worked hard to develop an online presence and have benefited in countless ways, but selling books isn't top on the list.

Really, the way to sell books is to write the absolute best books you can write. And then write some more and more. I believe this with all my heart. One of these days, I'll write a novel that shoots to the bestseller lists and stays there for a really really long time. And it won't have anything to do with my online presence. It will be simply because I happened to write something that resonated with a whole bunch of readers and the word spreads and the rest is history. Or rather the future. Because it hasn't happened yet. But when it does, it will be about the writing not about the marketing.

Have you made your peace with marketing?

29 comments:

  1. I've made my peace with the fact that my attention to my editing (both my upcoming book and it's follow-up) and continuing to write more have to take priority over social media. So long as I keep people aware of my book and what it's about, I think the best use of my blogging time is in making posts that speak about who I am, because those are the posts I find most rewarding and help me meet new people. If I spend all my time worrying about selling myself, what time will I have left to create something to sell?

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  2. So glad you have made peace. I have to tell you that I have always enjoyed your blog and almost always learn something here. Which I love. This seems to be the theme this week...peace with blogs. I am trying to find the balance here too. The more I let go of certain expectations put on myself for my blog...things just seem to come naturally. I like how you separated your author page but can still use this blog to send people over there. I would like to do that with my theater reviews. Great post and so helpful with the follow up from other post and bringing it all together. :-)

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  3. You can talk about whatever you want, Karen!
    Funny thing I've noticed about marketing over the past year and a half. Yes, there's the big blitz when the book comes out, which I'm doing now. But I do just as well when I'm not promoting my book, when I'm just being Alex. Last year I noticed a slow build of comments and emails from those who said they bought my book because they liked me. Then last fall, the big boom. I think blogging helps, because people get to know us, but when they buy the book, read it, and recommend it, then it all snowballs. (Which means we are back to the fact it needs to be a well-written book!)

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  4. I seriously in all honesty do not envy those marketing their books and stories. I couldn't do it - am too wimpy and feeble! So hooorah for you fab writers doing this!! Good luck!

    And yay for blogging for fun!
    I'm all for that! Take care
    x

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  5. Kitty, Other than what's on my website, I don't do it either. Possibly to detriment of sales, but I doubt it :)

    Alex, I think being oneself is the best kind of promotion there is. I can be myself easier on social media than I can at "events"-- so I gave up events some time ago.

    Tracy Jo, I resisted setting up that website but once it was done there was this huge feeling of relief! No longer had to use this blog for my book information.

    Paul, That's just how I feel, too.

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  6. Your last point says it all...I hope!

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  7. Karen,I do feel blogging helps with book sales only because blogging is growing so rapidly. I will be reading a farmwife blog and she will mention a book she read and I will jump to that link and buy that book about 10% of the time. So maybe AUTHOR blogging stats are stll unclear but general blogging has replaced traditional marketing in many ways.

    But for me to by ANOTHER book by that author...only good writing will ensure that purchase.

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  8. Wish I could find peace.

    As you say, a quality product is the first priority, and I think, given that, you're going to sell more by blogging with the goal of making authentic connections instead of to sell.

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  9. Hi Karen .. good link back on 21 February ..

    Also this post says it all - it's up to us what we do with our blogs .. but blogging is for others' to read (presumably!) .. and if we want interaction then we don't want to bore readers with over promotion of our books or drivel - dare I say it.

    I think you're doing such a lot to enlighten us and setting up Celery Tree, and having Wido Publishing - obviously your knowledge base is pretty broad and informative ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  10. But how do they find the book in the first place?
    Karen

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  11. Thanks - this is good. I decided that my blog was for me - first and foremost - to set goals and by thinking that even once person has read the goal be motivated to keep it. I finally stopped panicking when I read in some publisher or agent's site that after your book got accepted was time enough to work on your platform - before that it might be helpful to learn how social media works but not to get too agitated about it. That is a big releif to me because I only have so many hours in the day - just like everyone else! I like your site most when you are most present and I think that goes the other way!

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  12. Jan, Sounds like you have made your peace with marketing :) You "like my blog when I am most present" is helpful feedback, and that is reflected in my stats and comments. Book reviews, guest posts, interviews etc don't get near as much response as me being "present" as you say.

    Karen, Each person has to find what works best for each book. Some have had huge success with social media promotion. Others have tried to copy that and fallen flat. I think blogging is the ideal venue for you because it allows you to share so much of yourself. It honestly reflects you and your memoir. What better marketing tool is there than that?

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  13. I'm getting there. It doesn't scare my like it used to.

    Marketing used to scare the heck out of me and now it seems like something I can actually plan on, work on, or try. Which is much better than being paralyzed with fear.

    Great post.

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  14. I used to be in advertising & marketing, but my OWN marketing? I'm scared I'll fall miserably short. I'll be reading your blog often for tips and support.

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  15. I'm learning about marketing the hard way. I'm probably not doing all I can at the moment, so I'll be checking out the link to your other post.

    With regards to my blog, I enjoy writing about writing, because in my real life, friends and family are supportive, but they don't really understand.

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  16. I have built my web presence through blogging. I am not yet published, but will use it as a platform for promoting. My blog has whatever I feel like putting on it related to the writing world.

    You write whatever takes your fancy, Karen!

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  17. Great post, Karen. I've found that bloggers like variety, so I try to mix things up -- but my site is definitely focused on the writing process. Will that change if I get a book deal? I hope not.

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  18. I'm not sure I've made my peace yet, since I'm still learning. But at least I'm having fun along the way. :)

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  19. Yep, I've made my peace. And I'm with you, for sure. I started my blog for the fun of it, for the community, and to record any progress I make. It may help to spread the word in some small way, but good writing is surely the best approach ...

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  20. I agree with you Karen. I started my blog to see if I had anything to say anyone else would be interested in reading. It was my first step to taking my writing seriously. So for me my blog has done its job. If it also helps to promote anything I write that will be a bonus. But if sales of my cookbook are anything to go by...I won't be holding my breath!!! So I will continue to post about whatever takes my fancy and hope it entertains.

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  21. So much sense here. I think bloggers like your good self and Simon Kewin have struck the right balance on self-promotion. You're my inspiration.

    Blogging and tweeting should be fun. A little self-promotion is good, but every hour, every day is an absolute turn off.

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  22. Making my peace with anything remains a goal. I live for those moments where everything seems just as it should, and all’s right with the world. Meanwhile I’m still scurrying to locate missing pieces.
    But I too have decided that a blog is a place to have a coffee break and not to set-up shop. My website, on the other hand, is a sort of ad. That’s where the books, best and least sellers, will go.
    Glad you're making peace, Karen. Peace is good.

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  23. Not yet. But my marketing will just be starting in the new year. ;)

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  24. I totally agree, Karen. Writing the best book we can is the number one thing we can do as writers.

    I blog because it's something that allows me to explore my passion for stories, and to make friends while I do it. I try not to focus to much on marketing. In fact, I rarely talk about my books except on special occasions.

    Blogging is a way of connecting and socialising which really helps give moral support as a writer. That's something I need and that perks me up when I need a boost. Love it.

    Jai

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  25. I think you have the right attitude towards writing and blogging. Like you said, your blogs are your blogs, and you have the right to blog about whatever you want; we'll keep reading. :)
    I think that a lot of people start blogs because they're hoping to get book deals; after all, that's how bloggers like Julie Powell (author of Julie and Julia) got started. But those bloggers were blogging long before social networking became really popular, and I think that most of them weren't looking for book deals either. They just wrote about what interested them, and that was what mattered.

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  26. I'm with you, Karen. I don't think blogging sells books. I do think it can help connect you with people who may sometimes want to buy your book and help raise awareness from a public relations perspective. But blogging once a week versus five days, etc, is not going to make a difference when it comes to sales.

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  27. Yes. I've come to understand what I should do and I do it. I've come to understand that when I don't cover all my bases, I don't, but I'll make up for it later. I've come to understand that I enjoy meeting writers anytime, anywhere and so marketing isn't terrible anymore.

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  28. I wish I were as confident as you. I totally believe in every word you just said, however the thought keeps intruding that I might lose a big opportunity if I don't blog consistently, or update my Fb status everyday... Hope to get there one day. Soon.

    Good luck!
    From Diary of a Writer in Progress.

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  29. Have I made my peace with marketing? I was never at war with it and perhaps only felt negatively towards it in my hippie days--and not really so much then.

    I love marketing. If I wasn't married to my wife I might marry marketing. I've still got some marketing posts lined up for the future.


    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge
    Blogging from A to Z
    (marketing A to Z)

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