Writers, Market Like Yourself: A Call for Authenticity
I have a very low threshold for extreme enthusiasm. Hence my discomfort around cheerleaders, dance moms, and QVC hosts. I find it hard to trust that kind of extreme positive energy, and I also find forced vigor — even if it is simply an amplification of genuine passion or belief — to read as insincere. This is clearly my problem, no one else’s . . . but if you get me, give me a “Gotcha” in the comments, okay?
Recently, I’ve been listening to a LOT of podcasts on publishing, marketing, and entrepreneurship, and over and over again, I find myself drawn to the shows, where the host is enthusiastic but not fake, passionate but not sale-sy. For example, I LOVE Brian Clark’s Unemployable because I feel like I’m listening in on conversations between friends who are working to help one another succeed. I listen to others, too — John Lee Dumas’s Entrepreneur on Fire, for example — where I get GREAT advice but kind of have to clench my teeth through JLD’s “Ignite!” intro of each guest because it just feels forced to me.
Here’s the thing, though. I imagine some people really like JLD’s style, and some people probably find Brian Clark’s more laid-back tone to be boring. That’s totally okay. We need folks who do both kinds of work in the world.
And that’s good news for us as marketers of our own work. We can be ourselves and still be effective in our efforts to get the word out about our work.
What Does Being Yourself NOT Look Like
So being yourself as a marketer does not look like you hiding from people, eschewing all social media, refusing speaking opportunities, and praying that people find your book in the sea of titles that is publishing today.
That’s not being yourself — that’s being afraid and giving in to your fear.
Now fear is normal and fine and reasonable. But giving into the idea that “you” can’t market or are “not you” when you do, that’s a total and complete lie. If you published a book, you want people to read it, and thus, you need to help them find it.
Sit with that one a sec.
What Being Yourself DOES Look Like
Being yourself is using the whole fullness of who you in whatever ways you choose to market. It’s honoring your preferences, style, and available time to do the best you can by the work you have done.
Here are some things to consider as you think about who you are as a marketer.
- Choose the social media platforms you prefer. For instance, I do a lot on Facebook, some on Twitter and Instagram, a bit on Pinterest, and I have accounts, following Jane Friedman’s advice, on Snapchat, Ello, and Tumblr but rarely use them. (Ello is still out there, right?) Facebook is simply the most organic for me — it feels like a good fit. And I love the photos on Instagram and the quick bits of information and rich conversations on Twitter. So I use those and let the rest go.
- Market in your personal style. I am a fairly laid-back (at least in affect) person, and I prefer a straight-forward, truth-telling style in myself and others. I also think sarcasm is an art not a liability. I write in long sentences, and I try to always speak with kindness (although I’m not great at that all the time). Those are things I value, and so I try to do my marketing in the same way. You won’t ever hear me affect the “summer blockbuster” voiceover voice in my marketing because it’s just not me.
- Figure out what marketing avenues you do well and do those. I love public speaking (I’m one of the weird ones, I know). I enjoy the interaction. I love taking questions on the spot. I don’t love PowerPoint, but I can get past that. AND I’ve found that because I enjoy this work and have some experience in it, I sell a lot of books when I give a presentation. So it’s a win-win. I enjoy it, and it produces sales.
- Be willing to try things out. For example, I signed up for Ello about 15 seconds after it launched. I posted. I shared. I friended — or whatever the Ello equivalent is — and then I got bored and let it go. But I tried it, and I knew it wasn’t for me so I didn’t walk around feeling like I SHOULD be doing that, like so many marketing experts want to push you to do.
- Be confident in your choices and know that they work for you, but maybe not everyone else. Once you see what works, what you can sustain, and what you enjoy, be secure in that choice. Explain it to people if you want. Defend it if you must. And definitely definitely don’t assume that what works for you works for everyone else because it probably doesn’t.
The bottom line, my friends, is that marketing a necessity if you want people other than your family and those close friends who don’t want to hurt your feelings to buy our books. But it doesn’t have to be all-consuming or turn you into someone you aren’t. You really can do it with integrity and confidence because, after all, you cared enough to publish your work . . . and it’s just fine — good even — to care enough to want other people to read it, too. That’s not wrong; it’s just good, wholesome, healthy pride in your work.
What’s the hardest thing about marketing for you? Or what are some of the things that keep you from marketing your writing?
In just 4 days, my new course Discover Your Writing Self launches, and I’d love to have you join the over 775 people who have signed up to spend time thinking about what they fear as a writer, who they write for, what they want to write, and how they want to write it. And one of the best parts — but hopefully not THE best since I want the content to be awesome — is that it’s TOTALLY FREE. You can get more information and register here — www.andilit.com/dyws. I’d love to see you there.
Originally published at andilit.com on July 27, 2016.