Alphabet Blogging Challenge Day 13

It’s day thirteen of my blogging challenge. I’m enjoying it, but it’s more challenging than I expected and definitely more time consuming.

The letter is M

and the the topic is MARKETING

For this post, I’m going to recycle (with adjustments) a previous post which some of you might not have seen:

Sometimes it seems the only thing that matters these days is MARKETING.

You have to network, plug, sell, tell, promote … on and on … you have to be out there shouting from the rooftops: Look at me! I’m here!  If you’re a writer that means ‘building an author platform’.

Writing, by its very nature, tends to be a solitary business, especially if you are a fiction writer. You create worlds and people, you give birth to them on the computer and hope that they live on the page. These worlds and characters often seem more real to you than the actual world you inhabit.

But then the book is finished. You have to say goodbye to these people you have lived with so closely for so long, but you love them – and you want other people to love them. But how will they love them if they don’t know them? And that’s the rub! You have to leave your solitary state and tell people about your book. You have to build an author platform!

In earlier times, that was a simpler process. For a start the publisher did most of it for you. You’d go to the launch, do a few readings in draughty halls and silent libraries, and hope readers would find your book. But in the 21st century – that’s not enough. There’s TECHNOLOGY.

Yesterday [in January 2012] I went to a talk organised by my local Society of Authors group by a career psychologist, Denise Taylor on Marketing Your Book in the 21st Century. The significance of the topic was shown in the numbers of people attending – about 50 people crowded into a smallish room, when usually only 15-20 attend the meetings. The talk was very good -Denise spoke about promoting your book on amazon, websites, promotional material, blogging, networking on facebook and twitter, videos on YouTube, virtual book tours – the list of possibilities is endless.

I came out energised and determined to do more, do better, do everything. However, what made me laugh was the remark I overheard afterwards in the car park from one elderly attendee to another: ‘Do you know, I just can’t be arsed!’ And sometimes I know how she feels.

Update: I’ve definitely wearied of the whole marketing/promotion cycle – and it shows! Sales of ‘Unravelling’ have slumped in recent months. I’m told that’s par for the course for first-time novelists, two plus years after publication. But I still can’t help feeling disappointed especially after the accolades the novel has received. But the problem is you can spend all your time promoting – in some form or another – and not writing.

Marketing is important, but for the foreseeeable future, ‘Unravelling’ must either sell of its own accord or languish. I’m going to concentrate on ‘The Piano Player’s Son’. And writing the next one!

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  1. Christine says:

    The comment in the car park made me laugh and it’s the sort of thing I can imagine myself saying. I’m sorry to hear sales of Unravelling have slumped but presumably once TPPS comes out, it will generate interest in your back catalogue. I don’t think I’d be any good at the marketing side of things but first, of course, have to write that book!
    Good post-take tomorrow off!

  2. Maureen Hall says:

    This ‘marketing’ ghoul is one (but not the only) reason I’ll never make a proper writer. The thought of ‘putting myself out there’ makes me shudder: I have neither the energy nor the interest. But I really admire those of you who do make the effort: you deserve all the success you can get! Looking forward to reading ‘The Piano Player’s Son’ – and then the next one.

  3. Lindsay says:

    Yes, it made me laugh at the time. I’m told the drop in sales is to be expected two plus years after publication, so I’m not too disappointed. The main problem with promotion stuff is that it eats into writing time.

  4. Lindsay says:

    I think all writers have to put themselves out there nowadays. Being shut in the garret feverishly scribbling all the time seeems to belong to some golden age of writing!

  5. Love the overheard comment ~ what a scream …

    Have you heard the marketers who say you need to spend 90% of your working life marketing? ~ wouldn’t leave a whole lot of time for writing ‘eh?

    Marketers are having a tough time just now ~ around 5 years ago they suddenly woke up to the fact that the public knew what they were doing and were becoming sceptical about many promotions ~ when TV opened up multiple channels all of a sudden there were almost too many places to promote (!) and the impact of marketing was lessened for these two reasons. Having said that, you don’t see many books being advertised by TV. And, of course, marketing is about much more than that sort of promotion.

    Nice post Lindsay

  6. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Polly. The whole promotion thing is complicated and difficult. It goes against the grain for a lot of writers, who inevitably spend a lot of time on their own, existing in their fictional worlds. And then have to burst into the real world shouting ‘Look at me everyone!’

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