It seems every time I click on a discussion online from authors, all I see is moaning and groaning that all this media socializing we're encouraged to do doesn't produce sales. Authors point out that we

seem to be “preaching to the choir.” Where are the readers we need to target?

My question to the whiners is “What's your solution?” Doesn't anyone realize what a huge leap we've taken in the marketing department? When many of us started, there were limited opportunities to aim for a national readership unless you had a PR person to work with (at a high cost). Newspapers existed, but were not necessarily inclined to interview local authors. Self-published authors were looked down on. Should be go back to the good old days where we only had postcards, bookmarks, bookstores to do book signings? Geez Louise. Social media has somewhat leveled the playing field and even big-name authors have locked on this form of promoting.

Let me say right off the bat that I LOVE marketing. To me, the challenge is to lure readers to my books. I'm willing to try different bait. Okay, not on board with my fishing analogy? How about this? Don't just think outside the box, look at the way the box is constructed, take it apart and put it back together in a way people haven't seen it before. Make it your box.

In my opinion, promotion and acquiring a fan base is only limited by an individual author's lack of drive and/or imagination. We are, for the first time in author history, allowed full control of our career path. Nothing can hold us back except ourselves.

Here's one whine I read in an online group I subscribe to: “I blog constantly but nobody orders my books.” I countered with “How many times have you ordered a book from reading a blog? Probably never, or you'd have a house full of books and an empty wallet. So, why expect people to do what you don't do yourself?”

What DOES sell books? Aside from a well-written manuscript and creative storyline, personality (and mine is fairly obnoxious) sells books. Standing out from the crowd sells books. Getting attention sells books. An interesting way with words when you speak or blog sells books. Provoking conversation sells books. Whiners and wallflowers don't sell books.

Isn't this what the buzz word “Branding” is all about? Oh, don't give me the tired complaint that we shouldn't have to “sell out” to sell. Why shouldn't we be as interesting as the characters we write about? Or, at least seem so with our public image?

As writers, we spend a lot of time finding our writing “voice.” Why aren't we spending the same amount of time finding our marketing voice? Dig deep and figure out what makes you different. Bring that quality to the foreground. This isn't just with what you say, but how you say it. Lawrence Block once said voice was like “two people telling the same joke.” It's all in the delivery, folks. The same goes with marketing.

My voice is coming atcha loud and clear in everything I've written in this piece. If this is the first time you've read my writing, you might notice I don't mince words. I don't play it safe. I have no problem calling people out. Many of you are familiar with my blogs on Buried Under Books and my chafing personality. I suspect you chortle. I hope you learn. I give kudos to Lelia who stands back and supports what I choose to say. She's a keeper.

Final words of wisdom: When you find your brand, when your marketing voice comes through,


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Comment by Sunny Frazier on July 16, 2012 at 8:06am

Yes, John. Once you embrace it, marketing can be downright addictive!

Comment by John Michael Brantingham on July 16, 2012 at 5:07am

It's a tough road to learn all this stuff about the internet and online promotion, but it's valuable. For me, it's starting to get really fun actually!

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