I am one of the worst marketers in the world. There's something about shouting my name out from the rooftops that makes me cringe. And I know that I am not alone in this. But last week I had an experience that gave me some new perspective on the topic. And from that I learned something that I hope to figure out how to apply going forward.
I've heard that one way to succeed is to quit worrying about promoting yourself and put others first. But how, exactly, are you supposed to do this? Beats me. Don't have a clue. In the past, I'd read this sage wisdom, nod my head, think for a minute how this might work, come up blank, and quit thinking about it. Then go back to my usual marketing ploys. In other words, doing nothing.
Maybe a Different Way?
But here's what happened last week that put this into perspective and showed me how it might work:
#1 I had a reading at a local bookstore that I like a lot. I like the owner a lot, too. She supports local authors like crazy and is doing her best to create a nice community around her store. More than anything, I really wanted to introduce people to her store.
#2 I was reading with my Twitter friend Kayla Dawn Thomas, who was coming down from Washington. She didn't know many people in the area, and this was her first reading. So I wanted to make sure she had an audience, too.
Are you sensing a theme here? I had two people I wanted to make happy. And because of that, I pulled out the stops, sending out emails and promoting on Twitter like crazy. In the emails, I wrote about how great the bookstore was, and asked people to stop in some time even if they couldn't make it to the reading.
In other words, I had a mission larger than myself.
And the Winner Is…
The ultimate result was a reading that about 25 people attended, which is not bad at all for a Thursday night in summer. And I've cemented a wonderful relationship with Elisa, the bookstore owner. She's offered to do my launch for The Bonne Chance, about which I am very excited, and Debbie and I will likely do our workshops there in the future. (Local writers–we are planning one in October about all aspects of publishing, including how to get an agent, book contracts, and indie publishing.)
The thing is, I felt so much more comfortable doing the marketing when I was talking about the bookstore and Kayla. How to expand this into larger marketing efforts? I don't have a clue. But recently on the Women's Fiction Writer's Association mailing, there was a link to Kristin Lamb's blog, which I hadn't read for awhile. In wandering through its pages, I found the link to her most recent book, Rise of the Machine, Human Authors in a Digital World, which I gather from the reviews has a somewhat similar theme. (From a review: "Well, here's the big deal. It's not about promoting yourself. It's about caring for your neighbor.")
So, I'm onto something here, even if I am late to the party. And I'm going to figure out how it works.
Do you have ideas about how to put this in motion? Ideas about marketing in general? Please do share in the comments. This is a topic all writers need to know more about, I'd wager! Your ideas may help someone else–which is the whole point.
Photos are by xenia and brsky and Another Read Through.