What is acknowledged less often is how every author has (or should have) a distinct marketing voice and approach.
Sometimes, because we have less experience with marketing, or feel uncomfortable with the practice, we brace ourselves, even change ourselves, to engage in the activity.
This is good for nobody.
Think about it carefully. Do you adopt a totally different persona or voice when it’s time to market and promote? Of course you might put on your marketer’s hat to brainstorm ideas about marketing strategy, but those ideas ought to be expressed and executed by the “real” you, not a stilted, rational, or smarmy marketer version of you.
If you’re on the right path, it means you have a distinctive approach that can’t be copied by anyone else. Let’s look at a few examples.
John Green. Here’s a YA author who capitalizes on YouTube videos as a marketing and platform device. He does it in partnership with his brother. Were these guys born to perform in front of the camera? Yes. Could any author pull this off? No.
Jeanne Bowerman. She’s well known as the #twitterpimpangel. She talks about tequila a lot. She throws Rolos. She is unfailingly supportive and helpful to writers. She has a great story to tell about how she got where she is today. Is her story and approach replicable by any other author? No.
Chuck Wendig. For anyone active in the online writing community, you probably know Chuck already. He describes his website/blog as “unmercifully profane.” He adds, “It is not for children. Frankly, it’s probably not even for adults.” Would a bunch of authors even want to pull off what Chuck does? No. But it works for Chuck.
I could give dozens of examples, and show you how an author’s unique personality directly plays into their marketing and platform building approach. However, easier said than done. Why?
- It takes self-awareness and honesty about who you are.
- It asks that you focus on the people who will truly “get it” and be your biggest fans—meaning you don’t try to please everyone all the time.
- It requires that you focus less on the new shiny tools and more on creative and imaginative ways of sharing and delivering a message about your work.
As far as self-awareness & honesty about yourself, you might try a couple of personality tests (Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram) to better understand your strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. I’ve listed multiple versions of each test to help ensure you’re being typed accurately. As far as interpreting the results, you’ll get a summary at the end of the test, then you can explore on your own by Googling your type.
Note: There is no personality type that makes you bad at marketing! :)
As you consider how to best develop your marketing voice and strategy, I recommend asking a couple trusted friends or advisers if they can envision you successfully doing X. Does X activity sound like you? Does it complement your values, what you stand for, how you prefer to operate?
If so, you’re one step closer to developing your distinct marketing approach that’s the best fit for you, your work, and your audience.