When it comes to making a marketing plan, there are really two schools of thought and I can relate to both of them. The first is to concentrate on one technique at a time, not wasting energy trying to keep up with all the various social media and marketing techniques out there. So for instance, you’d get yourself a Twitter account and work the hell out of it until it’s successful. This might take a while, this might lead to instant results – you’re just never sure.
The other way to approach marketing is to hit all the various outlets at the same time, give them all a whirl, and see which one works best for you. You continue to use all (or most) of the various methods, but eventually you’ll find the one that fits your style and concentrate on that.
The only problem with these two approaches is that marketing trends continue to change. What worked in 2009 will not necessarily work today. That’s just the nature of the beast.
When I first started marketing I decided to concentrate on e-mail lists as my main method of reaching people. This method, in my current opinion, will never steer you wrong, so if you’re just going to try one marketing method, do an e-mail list. It’s desirable for several reasons:
You have a direct channel to your readers/customers
You control almost everything about your message, from the way it looks to the time it goes out, to the people you want to see it.
If you back this list up on a regular basis, no one can ever take these customers away from you (besides the actual customer, who can withdraw from your list).
But I actually prefer to use the second approach because, as I like to say, you should always cover your ass. You need a way to reach people and not everyone opens that newsletter you sent. Some people actually like Facebook or Twitter, or hell, even Pinterest. You just never know where your next reader/customer is going to come from.
I blogged a few weeks ago about how Facebook has really changed for most small businesses and this is one of the reasons why I promote a diversified approach to marketing your book. Facebook can take away your readers. Twitter can cancel your account at any time, and even Blogger can pull your blog down and never give it back to you.
That’s why you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.
The same holds true for depending on one website to sell your goods. I’m speaking of Amazon here, in case you’re not following. I’m guilty. I have my books in Select and I’m getting paid to let people borrow them instead of purchasing them. I wanted to give it a try and I’ve completed exactly one free run. I’m not sure I’ll do it again, to be honest. It went OK, but nothing spectacular. I got some sales after – and some reviews. So that was nice because they were all positive. And I flirted with Hugh Howey on the Science Fiction lists during the freebie days.
But I’m thinking I could do just as well, or maybe even better, if I had my books in more places. Like Nook, and iBooks, and even Kobi. Plus, I’m thinking that once book four comes out I’ll make Clutch free permanently as a loss leader. You can’t do that in Select because you need to make your book free through another store to get Amazon to price match it.
Last Christmas I did a MASSIVE campaign that resulted in me having the best month ever for off-season science curriculum. It was seriously massive. I must’ve released five or more new products over my 12 Days of Freebies at Simple Schooling. I DOMINATED the top 10 list at CurrClick (plus like fifteen or twenty more in the top 100) It was great.
But then I realized that I’d be screwed if I ever lost that market. SCREWED.
You never want to depend on just one market to make your living and that’s pretty much the fire that lit me up to start writing fiction. Now I don’t make anything near the same amount of money writing fiction as I do non-fiction, but it’s growing. Every Saturday I check Amazon’s previous 6-week sales report and every week it increases by a couple hundred dollars. I’m pretty happy with the royalties.
And that’s good, because this year I didn’t push the non-fiction stuff like I did last year and I made about 1/3 of the sales. I just didn’t have time to do it all. So it was a good thing that I have other places that send me checks every month. And this is the whole point I’m trying to drive home – you never want to box yourself into a corner. You always want to have options. The more options you have the better you are.
When I put my marketing plan together, the first thing I wanted was a website. I made most of it in a weekend because I’m pretty good at Joomla. I host my own websites, I have a semi-private server with my hosting company and that’s where this website is hosted actually. But what if…god freaking forbid, I lost that website somehow. (I have backups of the backups, so that’s not a high probability). But what if?
Well, yeah that would sting. But I have other places to communicate with people. Like New Adult Addiction or my brand new blog Clean Teen Reads. And guess why I wanted a young adult book blog all of a sudden? If you guess it’s because I’m writing a young adult novel, then you get a prize. That’s right. I’m switching genres and I want a blog that I can use to market this move. Plus, clean reads is something my homeschool parents can get on board with too. Two stones, as they say.
You gotta think like this in marketing. You have to always be asking yourself what’s a better way to reach people. You have to branch out and take a risk or two and not worry that you’re wasting time. When I make a new website I waste a lot of time. I try a new template and I can’t make this or that work right. Or I have to go into the template and change code and that sucks time out of my day. Or I have to make new graphics and then they all need to be resized… It’s a major hassle. But if I invest three straight days in that project, don’t come up for air, and just produce what I need, then I lose a weekend but I gain another way to make some money.
You have to think this way about all of it. And yeah, it helps that I write full time now. That definitely helps. But if you want to be successful, most of the time you’re gonna have to work yer ass off. That’s just how it is. So you might waste a weekend making your Facebook page shine, or spend it blog hopping to find new followers, or whatever. But it’s worth it, because if you do it right, you’ll have that marketing outlet forever.
And if I can drill into you one take-away concept it’s this:
Plan ahead. Do it early. You won’t ever regret starting a project too soon, but you’ll always regret starting it too late.
Until next week…