By Christina Carson
Seth Godin started me thinking about yet another issue in the marketing conundrum for authors. Let’s face it. We indie writers know we have to be businesspeople, but it is a strange affair. We are, what is called in business, sole proprietors. Our products are books and our competition is as thick and dense as any I can imagine in today’s business world. On top of that, we have this alluring proposition of a potentially huge market thanks to social media, but as yet, no effective means of connecting with it. That includes the piddling of advertising available which, strangely is controlled by the advertiser. So now that we’ve gotten the frustrating bits out in the open like revealed boogie men under the bed, let’s apply another notion of Seth’s to our particular situation.
First off, here is my mantra, and it has taken me many fine places: You work at what you can, and do your absolute best, until you can work at something else.
Now let’s couple that with Seth Godin’s ideas about product awareness (how well our books are known) and see where we go. Here is his first notion:
If your startup, your non-profit or your event is suffering because of a lack of awareness, the solution isn't to figure out some way to get more hype, more publicity or more traffic.
His reason for saying this is:
The challenge with this approach is that it doesn't scale. Soon, you'll have no luck at all getting more attention, even with ever more stunts or funding.
Put into other words, if we had all the answers we wouldn’t be having this conversation, so doing more of the same is not an answer, merely a momentary response to our frustrations.
Here is his simple answer: re-create your product so it is worth talking about.
As it applies to sole proprietors known as writers, it means ensure your books are quality, something that impels a reader to tell at least one other person, “Man did I just read a winner of a book.”
Here’s a clue where to start. Don’t ask others whether you are a good writer or not. You are the only one who knows how far you can push that envelope. You are the only one who knows how far down that trail you’ve gone. A powerful book, one that people feel compelled to talk about is one where the author has traveled way down that road and put more of him or herself into it than most others.
Don’t get confused. I’m not talking autobiographical information here. I mean what you know and understand about life. That needs to seep into your story. It needs to get sopped up in your characters so they become people so convincing and fascinating the readers yearn to spend time in their company, lamenting each parting. People talk about those books, and then people do their job in your marketing plan. They are the only ones who can do this part. They, just like the old days, find a way to spread their excitement and satisfaction to others – the tried and true word-of-mouth, the best promotional tool a writer has.
It might not go viral, but it will start the ball rolling and get you known for the long haul better than anything else—a tangible person to person connection.
That’s why I said my mantra is: Work at what you can, and do your absolute best, until you can work at something else – like answering all your fan mail.