if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Guest Post: Don’t be Afraid of the M Word

cookie_monster_mThanks to everyone who read and contributed to Tuesday’s post on Marketing, our latest foray into the world of what happens AFTER the book deal is signed. For more on that, I’m grateful to Shelli Johannes-Wells who’s further contributing to the conversation with a series on marketing. Enjoy!

Kate/Daphne has asked me to do a series on Marketing covering a wide variety of topics for authors/writers from branding to social networking to book publicity.

First I’ll tell you a little about myself. I got an MBA specializing in Marketing, and worked for a consulting firm doing marketing and communications before quitting and taking an executive job at a bank doing associate communications and product marketing. After 15 years of being in corporate America, I left and started my own marketing company where I have worked with clients like Delta, Spanx, and Goody Hair Products. I have also worked with authors on creating web sites, swag, blogs, and book publicity.

Today I want to start by saying this: Don’t be afraid of the M word! Marketing is not a scary beast that you can’t touch. It is not anything that you as a writer can’t do. It is not anything in which you have to have a degree in order to do it right (don’t tell my parents that!). Because in our world – the book world – marketing is just a fancy word for “reaching out to your readers”– whether it be teens or librarians or booksellers. We as authors have to find a way to feel comfortable in identifying our customers, reaching them (in a non spammy way) through different channels, and building a loyal readership so they want to read more.

The word marketing is thrown around all the time in this industry. There are new terms and old terms. Buzz words that are thrown around. But really in the end, marketing for an author is just finding a way to connect to your readers.

The biggest problem many authors have with marketing (in my opinion) is that they don’t do it. There are tons of excuses that I hear as a consultant. They are afraid of it. They don’t make time for it. They don’t think they need it. It’s beneath them. They want to spam people. They don’t think they know how to do it. They can’t do it. They just want to write. They don’t feel they need to do it. They think the publisher should do it.

But I respectfully disagree. We as authors in this online world have such a huge opportunity to take the initiative and reach so many users. With all the forms of technology available, those barriers are broken down. We don’t have to pay advertising agencies to find ad space. We don’t have to pay publicists to drop press releases. We have a chance to really connect through a variety of ways. And we would be crazy not to take advantage of that.

When my kids ask me why they have to brush their teeth, I say, “Only brush the teeth you want to keep.” So to you, dear author, when you ask me “why do I need to do marketing?” I say, “Only market the books you want to sell.”

In today’s world, the lines between agents, editors and authors are blurring. Now hold onto your computers because I am about to say something really groundbreaking – we can’t just be writers anymore (pause for horrific screams from the crowd). We have to share and wear hats to help make a book be successful. We are the writer, the editor, the marketer, the author, and the reader.

Because if you think that your publishers and agents will pick up all the marketing pieces or even do most of it, you are kidding ourselves.

The success of our book lies in our own hands.

So where do you start? At the beginning. Before the book deal. With you as a writer knowing what you write and who you write it for.

In this series, I’ll talk about more than just “marketing”. I’ll talk about:
• Branding – nailing down yourself as a writer and your writing
• Building a platform from the get go (i.e. getting yourself known)
• Create a strong and authentic online presence
• Effective social networking (not just any social networking)
• Building a marketing plan for your book
• Online marketing at its best
• Marketing on a budget
• Balancing marketing with writing

I hope you find the series helpful. Leave any questions you have and I’ll try to answer them along the way.

Happy Marketing!
(Ok that was cheesy but it seemed to fit)

Shelli Johannes-Wells (AKA S.R. Johannes) lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate america, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. You can find her hanging out online and visit her at srjohannes.com. Her first book, Untraceable, is a teen wilderness thriller that debuted last week on Amazon’s Hot New Releases.

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