5 Fixable Digital Marketing Mistakes Many Authors Make
As a writer and an entrepreneur growing my own business, I get it: there are only so many hours in the day you have to tell your story. You want to focus on what you’re skilled at doing–and that means getting words on paper. Once you have a draft, you’ve created something, and as you know, it’s just the beginning of the long publication and promotion process for your book.
You’ll make mistakes. We all do.
Fortunately, many of the marketing mistakes authors make are easy to correct–and some of them are even enjoyable to fix because they inspire you to create more cool stuff and form relationships with your community. Sounds like fun, yeah?
Creative work is my favorite thing to market because there’s so much passion to work with, and the key to understanding your marketing strategy is really natural to you as an author: it’s all about telling your story.
Here’s how you can do that without a complicated marketing plan, and it won’t even disrupt your schedule.
No Email Address
I attended Gen Con 2017, an industry essential for anyone involving RPGs (role playing games). I make a portion of my income advising game creators on marketing strategy for LARP (live action role playing game), editing rules systems and associated materials, and creating and executing games myself. I also edit rulebooks as well as indie novels in sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and suspense genres.
Gen Con is a vital networking opportunity for anyone in these fields, and this year, I met over a hundred published authors. Many of them were looking for an editor.
Most of them had business cards: a total necessity.
None of them followed up with me even though I handed them my card.
I did the follow up (or tried to). What issue did I run into?
Half of them had no email address on their business cards, and many didn’t even have a contact form on their websites. They had no Facebook presence (no “page” for themselves or their books) and they’re not professionally networking on LinkedIn.
You might say that it’s because of people like me (who are trying to sell them a service) that they don’t have their email address listed, but editing is not my only role in life. I’ve discussed developing role play settings with other writers and I pass promising review copy opportunities over to my editor-in-chief at The Geek Initiative. We interview authors and expose their work to an audience we’ve cultivated over six years (ten if you count my personal community building as well). And all of these authors are missing out.
My pitch email doesn’t simply offer editing services, it offers an opportunity to connect and network with a bunch of geeks who like reading books. Such a networking opportunity for an author is:
- Low investment of time
- Key to increasing branding and connections in the industry
Hiding Behind Computer Screens and Outdated Pseudonyms
When I had my first AOL account back in the day, my mom was super paranoid about me meeting an ‘online stranger’ who would abduct me. Hey, that danger is and was pretty real, and the internet was a newer, even more unknown place. So I went by a nickname, “Echo,” and my very first screen name was EchoVoce because I sing.
Later, when I went to college, I adopted the name “Echo Poetica” for an album I produced. I had a real hippie vibe going and it fit.
Twelve years after graduating college, that pseudonym doesn’t fit me. I’m serious about my job and I don’t really write and produce poetic songs anymore.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) - Yarn is the best way to find video clips by quote. Find the exact moment in…yarn.co
As a result, I use my name. I could still use a pseudonym, and that’s fine (some authors do it well), but it should reflect what I’m doing.
If you’re 50 years old and you’re professionally publishing as PrinceOfDragonz1337, it’s time to change it up.
No Insight Into the Writing Process
People love writers for many reasons. Sure, they love the work we produce. But something they love just as much is an insight into our creative processes. I get asked stuff all the time:
- How many hours per day do you write and edit?
- Do you know the end of a story before you write it?
- What kind of coffee do you drink?
- Is working at home as great as it looks?
They’re really curious about my creative, crazy lifestyle…and they’re probably curious about yours, too, as well as how you come up with your characters, how you plan your book, and more.
Each of those questions could spur at least three blog posts, Twitch streams, or vlogs. Plus, answering some questions about my real life just generates more ideas.
As a prospective book editor (or as someone who might want to give your work press), I’m curious about what your process is like.
Guess what? A potential publisher will want to know, too, and so will your fans. I swear, you have those…and they will love, support, and defend you on your journey:
Social Media Silence
It’s hard to remember to schedule stuff. I’m a heavy social media user, but that doesn’t mean I update as frequently as I should. I assume it’s the same for a lot of authors, because during my Gen Con follow up, I ran into a lot of social media silence from authors who were incredibly engaging in person.
Here’s the good news:
You really don’t need to manage a hundred different social media platforms. For most authors, Facebook, LinkedIn, and GoodReads will work just fine. If you have specific audiences, you’ll have to be present on other platforms, too, but to start, pick two or three.
There’s more good news:
All that transparent blogging and vlogging you’re doing about your process creates content for you to post about on social media. Once you’re done blogging about something, it’s time to show it off.
That makes engagement. Engagement shows interest. Interest will motivate you to write more. As writers, sometimes we go into our caves, and the encouragement is really lovely.
Failing Follow Up
Why am I worried about paying a bill right now when I have a a legitimate email about an investment in my business sitting in my inbox? Lots of reasons…impostor syndrome, fear, worry, and despite the fact that I worked an eighteen our day, I’m a little lazy, too.
Don’t feel bad…we all do it. That email we procrastinate over. The call we never return. It’s a nasty habit, but a universal one. When it comes to doing business, though, we all need to do better.
I assign one day per week to “shovel the shit,” meaning I tackle my unpleasant business or things I’ve been dreading. Give it a try and then treat yo self.
Interested in learning more about how to strengthen your marketing skills? Need an editor with over fifteen years of publishing, marketing, and gaming experience? I’m not saying I’m a superhero or anything, but I can be pretty helpful. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work something out.