The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan

Some of you know that I live on a Ranch and occasionally I throw out a ranch analogy. This is going to be one of those rare occasions.I was out with my husband and kids feeding the cows on a cold and foggy morning. I now understand the mean of “thick as pea soup.” Heavy, wet, cold, and blinding. Now usually when we feed in the winter time the cows come running and occasionally fight over small piles of good hay. And from the start, we watched these three “old buggers” fight. Around and around they went, neither gaining nor losing ground, and all around them the other cows munched away on the hay. They were making quick work of those piles, while those three fought.

Cows fighting during a foggy, winter morning

I’m standing in the back of the truck, just shaking my head and wondering what they could be thinking. What benefit is it for them to fight? And it suddenly hits me. These cows remind me of marketers. You know the kind. The ones who fight and wave their product in the faces of everyone they meet. Those who throw a party every time someone gives them a good review and splatters it across the webverse as if anyone is paying attention—this does not count if this is your first review for a new book, we all understand and indulge your excitement. But there are those who state their stats and ratings every week. Those who flood our inboxes and make us cringe every time we see their names, until we eventually shy away from them as if they have the plague. There are those that give the rest of us bad name. Marketing is a fine line between sharing what you have and stalking to the people who don’t care.

The more I read about business the less I want to be involved. I’m not a pushy or competitive person, and publishing can be a competitive, cutthroat business. A writer is told not to cross-promote unless it benefits them, but I don’t agree. Creating a group of writers to help each other sale books does more good than bad. The thing about Marketing is in order for it to be successful, you need to test a few different things and see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not going into a detailed list of marketing ideas. But here are a few to get you started:

•Build your Author Platform. This is your readers and fan base, your author identity, and your message –what you are about, your tone and style of writing, what you write, etc.

•Try Social Networking at places like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Goodreads, etc. Post reviews of book sites but keep your interaction low. Readers are used to the marketers I mentioned above hounding them. On places like Twitter and Facebook, interact and make friends. Don’t be all about your book. Show that you are a human being.

•Blogging. Either blog for others, or blog for yourself, but only blog if you like it, otherwise you’ll hate it and people will feel it in your writing. You can always join up with other writers in a joint blog and pick a day to post. It’s been suggested by professionals that you choose three subjects upon which to blog that deal with your writing (i.e. genre, writing tips, self-publishing, marketing, etc). One suggestion was to use a blog as an announcement board, but I wouldn’t suggest it. You’d do better with a newsletter.

•Newsletters should not flood the inboxes of your readers or they will groan every time they see them. Newsletters should be sent out to your mailing list when you have a giveaway, contest, coupon, sale, or new release. It should have an opt out option too.

•Forums are not a place to promote, unless the thread specifically asks for the information you can provide. If someone asks a question about your book, answer briefly. Have the one-sentence explanation of what the book is about and link to find out more.

I know there are more ideas, but this post would go on forever than. I just want to say that this is the place in your Writer’s Business Plan to explore new marketing ideas and when you plan to execute those plans. What marketing technique do you want to try? How do you want to gauge it’s helpfulness to you? Do you want to have a giveaway? A contest? A sale? Post a short story on your website? Go wild with ideas and then pick a few to try.

The Writer’s Business Plan: An Introduction

The Writer’s Business Plan: Parts of the Writer’s Business Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Creating a Budget

The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule

The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

10 Comments

  1. Maureen Gill says:

    Great post, Stephannie — lots of wisdom. Yeah, I sure understand the total thrill of reading those first few outstanding reviews but as Ruth also warns it behooves us to not get too wrapped up in them because sure as hell there will be the one or even many more that are far less kind. I’m really into being there with my colleagues when they revel in those moments of unbridled joy (and relief!) and want to share in that joy, just as I want to be there to pick up the pieces when some beastly person rips them to shreds. But I also want to ring an author’s neck who’s on me like fleas on a cur about their book. What the hell are they thinking? First of all, I don’t think writers are a great market for other writers; as much as we want to help one another we have our own careers to promote and, sadly, I actually write more than I read… writing, as we all know, is extremely labor intensive. I can’t write my books and other writing-things and read all that you’ve also written, so let’s be honest about that, OK? Also, once you’re on my list, you’re on my list and I’ll get to you when I can. If you’re not on my list, maybe I can’t stand your genre or just the way you part your hair but beating me over the head about the success of your book isn’t going to change my mind about putting you on my list — except it might make me take you OFF my reading list if your book was on it to begin with, know what I mean? So, if you brought your book to my attention once, twice, even three times, let’s let it go at that, OK? I get it, I really do: you wrote a book. In this business that’s sort of like “BFD, you wrote a book, so who hasn’t?” Get over it. (Think of it this way: you don’t see physicians walking around a medical center greeting every other doctor with “Hi there! I’m a doctor, wanna’ discuss why I’m such a special doctor? Wanna’ read that note I got from Mr. Goldberg last week? He said no one ever gave him a rectal like I did, by God. What about you? You have any patients who like you? Save any lives lately?”

    Yeah, right. In my mind, that’s what I see and hear when another author is humping my leg.

    I’m enjoying my Facebook experiences immensely and this says something because I was on it once before and detested it; I told everyone if I received one more Farmville request I was going to hunt them down, slaughter their cattle and burn their crops. (I recently read about Sherman’s march through Georgia so I know how it’s done.) When I decided to give it another go, I was determined to become more savvy and particular about who I invited into my FB “house.” I think I have one of the finest groups of like minded people in the world. We’ve built our relationships around politics, history, and cultural commentary — and NOT writing and my books! — and I like that; if I want a fan page at some other time I may create one. Right now, my FB page is something altogether different and it works for me. Everyone there knows I’ve written a book and I discuss it in the same casual vein I also discuss my cats and dog and disgust with certain aspects of today’s society. Lately, however, I’ve been “friended” by a few people who have used me and the exposure to my good friends to push their own damn books and it infuriates me. They don’t want to meet me and become my friend; they don’t bring anything worthwhile to our threads of discussion, Rather, they’re boors crashing my party and trying to sell their Tupperware or Avon to my guests. I think it’s damn bad manners. I don’t like to accept a “friend” without first checking out his/her Info and Wall. Some don’t allow for this and so then I’m not sure what to do, but I usually accept. Within the last two weeks 4 authors crashed my party and then bam! bam! bam! flooded me and my friends with their cheesy promos for their damn books. I did a fast bam! back and they’re now blocked. I think that’s the kind of stuff that works OK on a page clearly designated for advertising our works, such as on a fan page, but it’s beyond annoying otherwise.

    Anyway, this is my morning rant on the subject!

    Thanks for all your wonderful advice.

    1. “If you’re not on my list, maybe I can’t stand your genre or just the way you part your hair but beating me over the head about the success of your book isn’t going to change my mind about putting you on my list — except it might make me take you OFF my reading list if your book was on it to begin with, know what I mean?”

      Yes! I do the same thing! I’ve taken several people off the list for this reason. I think what some writers don’t understand is that some genres don’t appeal to all of us. It doesn’t mean we think they suck as writers. It just means not all types of books appeal to everyone.

    2. Amen on all accounts! We all hate salespeople hounding us when we aren’t interested in buying the product. And when we want it we’ll ask.

  2. Yeah, I don’t get the point in bombarding people with the same info over and over either. Does my head in and certainly doesn’t make me pay more attention to them, if anything, quite the opposite. Less is more…

    1. Well said. Sometimes less is more.

    2. I have a tendency to tune them out after a while. I think the beat marketing theory is to provide what people want and entertain them when you do.

  3. Great post, Steph. 😀

    I’ve been thinking of cutting back on my newsletter. Instead of doing it every month, I’m thinking of doing it when I have a new release out or something special going on. Otherwise, it seems like a waste of time, so I appreciate your thoughts on it. It only reinforced what I was thinking. So thanks! 😀

    1. I’ve also heard of writer’s joining a group of writers in their genre to put out a newsletter every three months, providing stuff for writers and readers.

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