Therese butting in for a second to (very) happily announce the return of one of our favorite contributors: Jane Friedman! Jane is returning as a quarterly contributor, so we can look forward to seeing her essays several times a year here at WU–and of course you can see even more of her on her own site. Please join me in welcoming her back, and enjoy her words of wisdom.
Most new authors, upon securing a book contract or planning a book launch, are advised they need to establish a Twitter account, a Facebook page, or [list social media channel here]. Why? To market their book, of course.
This presents an immediate dilemma: If the author is not already active on these channels, of her own interest and volition, she now has the mindset of using these tools to “market”—and the new author may have no idea what that means beyond telling people to like their page or follow them.
No one I know enjoys being a marketer on social media, not any more than people want to be marketed to. It poisons the experience, for everyone.
You might respond: Yeah, tell us something we don’t know, right?
Yet authors continue to use social media—and their online networks—as blunt instruments, posting things that beg people to pay attention and become a buyer or follower. Unfortunately, asking for such attention on a social media network is likely to ensure you won’t be getting any, except for those who already adore you or feel obligated to support you.
Here’s the much better alternative to begging: When you develop a strategic marketing campaign for a new book, the first thing you should do is list all the people you know who will buy it without you asking, and would likely recommend it to everyone they know.
These are the people you send a round of personal and private appeals to. These are the people whose attention you already have. These are your most important relationships, relationships you probably treasure and nurture. Ask these people for specific types of help during your book marketing campaign, based on their own strengths or connections.
Do not make a habit of broadcasting general, blanket appeals for attention and help to strangers. Keep those broadcast messages focused on what strangers most want to know, and focus on how those messages serve them. (Example: “Don’t miss the e-book giveaway on Wednesday only.”) After you make your well-strategized broadcast, go back to your regularly scheduled programming of cat videos, gardening tips, or beer photos—that is, whatever you normally post about, why people enjoy seeing you in their newsfeed or stream.
None of what I’m saying precludes sending appeals to influencers who may have never heard of you. That’s part of the game, too. But again, you should send personalized and private pitches if you’re seeking their time or energy. Their attention is precious, and they value their audience’s attention, too. You have to prove why you’re worthy of attention in that personalized appeal. (What I’m describing is basically what you might hire a publicist to do on your behalf. You can do it yourself, too, if you have the time.)
So, I’ve just outlined two types of purposeful appeals: [Read more…]