Letters from the Real World: Beginning as I mean to go on

By Cait Reynolds
Me and one of my editors.

Me and one of my editors.

So, here I am. I’ve got a book that is signed, sealed, and done. It has been edited and proofread. We have a blurb. We have a cover. My baby is now in the tender hands of the layout artists, and I will have an official release date soon, but I know it’s going to be in May.

In some ways, this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting to share with you since I started writing for BookPromotion.com. This is my first book as myself, Cait Reynolds, so even though I have other books under other pen names, this is the launch that means the most to me and carries the most weight for my future.

It’s also the book launch where I am basically starting from ground zero.

I have a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook author page, a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, a Tumblr account, a Goodreads account, and a Pinterest account. Oh, I also have Google+, but honestly, I don’t have time for the circles thing, and I don’t think that is where my readers are hanging out. There probably are other sites I should be getting into, but honestly, I don’t think I could handle it right now.

It’s funny how things work out, though. For all my frustrations and delays in getting Downcast out the door, this past year has served me well. I have been able to watch and evaluate various social media campaigns by many different authors in many different genres. I’ve looked at different ways of measuring success for book sales and networking. While I’ve participated in some things on Twitter and in various Facebook groups, I’ve mostly been lurking, watching and learning.

Now, as I stand on the precipice of my own campaign, I find that I have a firm, confident stand on several key areas of book marketing.

1. I do not want to be “muted.” Lately, I have found myself using the Mute button on Twitter a lot.

While I have come to like certain people and/or value their connection professionally, their incessant, repetitive tweeting and retweeting of promotional messages for themselves and others has gotten out of hand.

I am so desensitized to seeing promotional tweets now that I skip them. It is awful to say, but I have a feeling that a lot of you probably do that, too. You have to. If you took the time to read every tweet and click on every link, you’d never have time for anything else.

What also bugs me is that a LOT of these people are pro forma retweeting. They haven’t read the article or book, or seen the interview. They might be doing it as a favor, but I’ve watched several of these people over time, and they tweet and retweet a lot. A LOT. To the point where the majority of their tweets are promotional or links or whatever.

I didn’t follow them to be endlessly sold on books I’m not interested in or that they haven’t even bothered to read. I don’t really have time to click on endless blog post links. When I go on Twitter, I go there for content not advertising. I like reading clever tweets by clever people. I like reading meaningful tweets. I like reading tweet replies and conversations.

Therefore, as I go forward, I will not inundate people with my promotional pitches on Twitter. I will not use HootSuite to schedule repetitions of my tweets or cycle through a bunch of promotional tweets. I will also not ask people to promote my book without offering them the courtesy of an ARC. This might limit how many people can and will promote me, but I do not feel right about asking people to put their word behind something without giving them the chance to read it and make their own honest judgment.

However, while it is limiting, I believe that when I do promote and others promote for me, it will be a stronger, truer message, and might also have a better chance of cutting through the promotional clutter. This might mean my growth on Twitter is slower and more organic, but I am focusing on building a long-term brand. The key to success with that kind of brand is this: begin as you mean to go on. So, I shall.

Does that mean I will not post links to my blog posts or tweet exciting news about big reviews, events, or sales? No, of course not. However, I am going to try to be respectful of my followers by limiting those tweets and balancing them with my actual content and interactions on Twitter.

I will also happily promote books and articles that I have read. If this means that either I have to ask for an ARC or wait until I can buy and read my own copy, then so be it. But, I would rather take another author’s book, read it, get to know the author, and really dig in with reviews, interviews, etc.  This is time-consuming, and it will necessarily limit the number of promotional pieces I can do for my fellow authors. However, I truly believe it is the most honest, valuable, and respectful way to treat my fellow authors and our readers.

2. The same goes for my Facebook author page.

3. There will be no lather, rinse, repeat – for the most part.

I have been guilty of this, too. Of what, you ask? Of posting the same thing a thousand times in a thousand Facebook groups. Of putting the same message in a Tweet and a Facebook status (and setting Hootsuite to repeat it).

Recycling has its place: you don’t want to rewrite your official blurb all the time. But part of the thing I’ve noticed is that so many authors cross-pollinate across so many book groups, author groups, promotional groups, etc., that I have become numb to seeing their announcements.

And, that sucks, because I know they put their heart and souls into those announcements and those books. It makes me feel like an awful human being to scroll past stuff. At one point, I did this for one of my older books. Did I see a bump in sales? Yes. But, I couldn’t keep it up, and I felt like I was using rather than participating in these groups. One thing about I also kind of wondered how much of the groups were authors marketing to other authors?

I have decided that I am going to pick several groups to get involved with and limit myself to those groups, really getting to know my fellow authors there, building stronger, deeper connections that will hopefully turn into longer, mutually beneficial relationships.

4. I vow not to forget bricks-and-mortar in a clicks-and-mortar world.

The question of authors marketing to authors has been weighing heavily on my mind for the past two weeks (i.e. since I finished editing). Most of the people I know who are not writers get their book recommendations from Amazon suggestions, Goodreads, their non-author friends, from mainstream media (i.e. bigger sites like Huffington Post, the New York Times Book Review, local newspapers, magazines, etc.), and from wandering around bookstores.

I did a survey about this with my non-author friends on Facebook, and their answers reflected the same thing as the points above.

There is SO much emphasis these days on social media marketing, and with good reason. However, in an effort to step out of the box and think creatively about marketing, I found myself thinking very old fashioned.

Therefore, a large part of my campaign is going to be live, in-person, and local. I am going to pound the pavement to my local bookstores and library branches. Even if I don’t get my book carried right away or get an event right away, it’s a relationship and contact that I have established for next time.

I am going to use my old PR skills and contact my local media. I am going to talk to people who have nothing to do with books and publishing but are awesome and have their own businesses and see if I can get something different and unusual going with them.

I will attend several conferences this year, but not just attend them. I am going to attend them with a game plan and heavy duty preparation in place.

People are going to say no to me. They will dismiss me and be rude to me. But, I know that in the end, that doesn’t matter a hill of beans. I’ll still wake up tomorrow and be totally cool with myself. However, I won’t find the people who will say yes and get excited unless I take the risk and go out there to meet them.

This, I think, will turn out to be one of my favorite aspects of the marketing campaign – especially when it comes time to chronicle my various successes and failures.

***

So, there you have it. Those are the principles I am going into this launch with, and only time will tell if they serve me well. However, I promise to you that I will document my failures as thoroughly as my successes, and should I turn out to be wrong? I will totally admit it. I hope I’m not, though LOL!

I hope you will stay with me as I start posting again and getting ready for my big book launch!

Thanks for reading.

 

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