Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Cult of Book Marketing

I've been reading Kristen Lamb's book, Rise of the Machines this week. And it's given me a lot to think about. If you haven't heard of Kristen Lamb, she's a very vocal supporter of indie publishing and the creator of something called WANAtribe, which is a place for writers to commune and offer each other support. You can read about Kristen and WANA (which stands for We Are Not Alone) through the links above -- and I recommend you do -- she's very wise!

Anyway, Lamb's book has a lot to say about the way social media fits into the marketing plans of every writer, indie or traditional. It's been a little bit eye-opening to me, because she's rather plainly stating that everything I've been doing is wrong. The only comfort here is that I know I'm not alone. I learned how to use social media from other writers, and basically copied what they were doing.

The biggest issue Lamb brings up -- and one I've wondered about a lot -- is that writers using Facebook and Twitter seem mostly to be targeting other writers. In some ways this is good marketing if you ask me. After all, I don't know any other writers who aren't voracious readers. I go through several books a week, even when I'm on deadline, and I'd guess I'm not alone. But I've also been aware all along that my small community of writer friends -- no matter how much they'd love to help me -- cannot make me a NYT bestseller all by themselves. I need those elusive "regular folks" to read my books, too. And talk about them. But I don't really market to them, unless they stumble across my very writer-focused blog or FB page.

I've attended lots of FB launch parties for fellow authors, and helped host a couple myself. And the folks who comment a lot and end up winning the giveaways? Other authors. I'm part of plenty of author groups and have an entirely separate author persona, to keep my writing segmented from my "real" life.

And Lamb is making me see that this might not have been the best path. Part of the segregation between my "real" identity and my pen name is due to the type of work that I do in the "real" world. But I'm starting to see that maybe inviting my "real" friends into my writing world would be the best way to share the thing that has been most important in my life (besides those little mini mes that wander around my home shrieking). I wouldn't "market" to these folks, exactly...that feels quite wrong. But maybe NOT giving them the opportunity to support my writing is wrong, too.

I'm not going to post any spoilers from Lamb's book or tell you how she proposes that we move past our limited view of author-to-author social media marketing to connect with "real" people... mostly because I haven't gotten that far in the book yet. But she's setting the stage and preparing me for the big reveal... I'm about halfway through the book, and the woman has thoroughly built the case for why everything I'm doing is spectacularly unsuccessful. So at this point I'm invested and really REALLY hoping that the book can deliver on the promise that it's making. But even if it doesn't manage to do that (has anyone completed it? Does it???), it's well written and has inspired plenty of thought.

So my questions to you guys:
- have you felt trapped in this cult of author-to-author marketing, too?
- what have you done to break out and reach "real" people?
- do you keep your writing life segregated from your "real" life? If so, why?


  1. Thanks for the info. I just picked up a copy of Rise of the Machines :) I always feel like a dog chasing its tail when it comes to marketing my work...

  2. Hmm...this makes lots of sense...Off to go friend non-writers on Twitter! ;)


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