Five Things I've Learned About Marketing: Part I

By Lana Wayne Koehler

When I started writing, I thought that I could put everything into one blog post. I quickly realized that it would be necessary to make this part of a series. Here’s the breakdown:

Part I: It’s All About Me
Part III: I Can’t Do It All
Part IV: I Have To Do It All
Part V: It’ll All Turn Out in the End

Part I

It’s All About Me

The best advice I’ve ever been given was to start marketing my book before it’s written.  Not that I followed it for my first book. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the power of early marketing. But I will definitely start earlier for my next book.

When was the last time you struck up a conversation with your hairdresser/barber?  Cable guy? Neighbor? These are all opportunities to promote your book.

Have you told a friend about your book? That’s marketing! The next time you’re out somewhere, strike up a conversation that might eventually lead to someone buying your book. Use your elevator pitch! I always carry swag (Bookmarks, postcards, business cards, etc.) with me just in case someone wants more information.  

My husband used to roll his eyes when I would start talking at the checkout line. By the time I finished, everyone in the line, including the cashier, would have a bookmark. Now, he not only expects it, he joins in!

What can you do to market online? Think of yourself as a brand and the Internet is your platform. It can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have much of a presence online. Start with one new site and play around with it until you feel comfortable. Slow and steady is the way to go.

These are the top Internet sites for building a platform today. It’s also important to keep up with any new (and ever changing) apps and sites. I asked my resident 16-year-old to explain how each of them works. If you don’t have a handy teen, check with your local library for courses and tutoring.

Each has its own peculiarities. Here’s a brief description:

Instantly share what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. You can also share photos. It’s a great way to share information with a lot of people quickly. Not good for lengthy conversations.

Primarily a photo and video information-sharing site. The fun part is filtering your photos (by changing their color, etc) and sharing.  It has taken over twitter with the teen crowd in case you write for middle grade or YA.

Correspond with real time videos and texts (called snaps) that will disappear in 30 days after being viewed. You cannot retrieve any of your information after that time. If you’re paranoid, or under 30, this is the site for you.

This is a good site for people looking to connect with friends, family and fans. Joining groups is a great way to meet new people with the same interests. You can find a group for almost anything by searching Facebook. You’ll want to keep your professional page separate from your personal page. If you try to over promote your Facebook page, you can be put in “Facebook Jail” that can last 24 hours to two weeks. Read the rules and be careful!

My favorite addictive activity. You put information that you’ll (probably) never use into organized boards that other people want to follow. You can have a business platform and a personal one. Or you can just have fun!

In order to get a following on any of these sites, you have to follow. Start with people you know. Then add as you meet more people.

Remember that once you put something out onto the Internet it’s out there forever (even snapchat has limitations). Post carefully. Don’t post pictures or say anything that you wouldn’t want your mother or new boss to see. That said, post early and post often.

The best relationships with a readership take time. Internet platforms require not only following lots of people, but having them follow you back. To do that, you have to offer something of value. Ideas, advice, and recommendations all require lots of research and time. Take the time to build a solid platform. Which segues nicely into Part II—It’s Not About You…

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