Today’s guest post is by Nick Thacker–author, blogger, and encourager! Take a look at these tips on online marketing and hear what he’s learned as an author trying to promote his novels online.
When I ran a business during college and the first few years after, I spent a lot of time networking. Not only did I try networking through the business organizations on campus, I also attended quite a few networking events in and around my community. I’ve been to large-scale events that hold 400+ booths, but also local Chamber of Commerce meeting luncheons.
All of the events were fun—I learned a lot, engaged and interacted with other business owners, and I got to experience firsthand what I’d been taught in the handful of business courses I’d taken: Generally, people are bad at networking.
Learn Some Good Habits
Not just bad, like fidgety or uncomfortable talking to people, but bad as in “throwing-business-cards-at-me-like-they-were-ninja-stars” bad. I probably don’t need to tell you that most of these people, while good-intentioned, weren’t very successful in the long run. When I wrote my first book and began trying to build a writing platform, I discovered some of the same habits and behaviors in the world of book marketing that I’d seen in offline networking.
3 Simple Tips to Avoid Turning People Off
Below is a brief list of the main points I feel every author should try to abide by when they set out to promote themselves (and yes, I do strongly encourage you to self-promote!):
- Don’t be annoying. The first step to building a successful platform is to never be annoying, rude, or unhelpful. Always add value—online, through social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest—and offline, at networking events like in-store signings and writers’ workshops. A neat trick for online promotion is to only promote your own stuff 20% of the time and the work of other people at least 80% of the time. Better yet, join a community of like-minded people who can help you learn, grow, and hold you accountable.
- Don’t think that writing a book is enough. You know what? I realized when I finished my book that there are a lot of people who’d already written a book too. It wasn’t as “special” as I thought (excluding my mom and grandparents’ reactions, of course). As an author in the 21st century, you NEED to be writing online–blogging, forums, Twitter, whatever. If you don’t, there’s going to be some other guy who’s written some book (probably not even as good as yours, ’cause that’s how these things work) who’ll go the extra mile and do a ton of promotion. Remember that for authors, online networking means “making meaningful connections with others, to create a mutually beneficial relationship.”
- You can’t do everything. “Shiny Object Syndrome” can be a tricky beast to overcome, but you need to stay focused on the things that will truly matter. Always look to add value wherever you are, but know, too, that you can’t update your Facebook profile, Goodreads account, Twitter feed, and blog, and simultaneously guest post at fifty other sites while writing your manuscript for the next book in the series. You’ll get burnt out very quickly (trust me, I’ve been there). Instead, focus on a “home base” that you can point your network to, and “branch out” into smaller connection points, like Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you’re struggling to make enough time for it all, temporarily cut back to your writing and your home base.
There’s certainly a lot more to networking online, especially for us authors, who have more and more piled on our plates and less time in which to get it all done. But if you start from the foundational understanding of what it means to add value, build relationships, and help people in a mutual and genuine way, you’ll already be one step ahead of the “ninja star” marketers out there who just want your money.
One Last Piece of Advice
If I could offer you any encouragement, I would echo what J. A. Konrath so eloquently put it on his blog: If you get discouraged, disheartened, or feel like your networking efforts just aren’t working, stop. Focus on writing great books, great content, or great whatever.
Konrath has pinpointed the main cause of his success as writing a lot and having a backlist. You words are your asset—no one can take them from you like they can a house, a boat, or a possession. As long as you build your asset and continuously add to its value, eventually it will pay off. Take these steps and add to them—make them your own. I heard once that the best advice is the advice you actually implement. Go make this the best advice you’ve ever received!
Nick Thacker is a blogger, writer, and author of fiction thriller novels. He blogs at LiveHacked.com, a site focused on helping authors develop their writing platform. Sign up for the his LiveHacked newsletter here! And take his free Fiction Writer’s Guide to Writing Fiction, an awesome 20-week e-course on planning, writing, and editing your novel.