Marketing, Promotion, Social Media
By Natalie Bright
The concept of marketing has changed greatly over the years since I minored in this vocation in college. We learned about target markets and ad copy, much the same terms used today, but a marketing plan involved the precise art of ‘targeting’ a clearly identified group of consumers through printed magazine and newspaper ads, snail mail flyers, radio, television, and other buzz generating tools. It was a labor intensive process utilizing lots of brain power in which timing was the key. Everything relating to that product or service had to hit consumers from all avenues at the same time. Sales numbers provided measurable results. If you were serious about selling, a marketing plan was best left to the professionals.
In my opinion, promotion on the other hand was ongoing, and included everything related to that product such as the author or owner, the store front, etc. In the case of authors, they kept writing and waited for their publisher to identify a plan for marketing their latest release. Not that long ago, options left up to authors were snail mail postcards, speaking events and bookstore autographing.
It’s a New Day!
Times have changed. In my mind, the distinctions between marketing and promotion have blurred. Authors have an abundance of promotional options available, and the concept of identifying a specific ‘target audience’ has basically been thrown out the window. Let’s tell everybody we know, and they’ll share with everybody they know, and someone, somewhere will discover our book. This realization hit me in a big way this past month.
One of my short stories, which I had written in 2006, was selected for an anthology published by a university press released during this past holiday. You might have seen the blog post about it right here on Wordsmith Six, WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS STORIES is a collection of stories by West Texas authors by ACU Press, compiled and edited by Glenn Dromgoole.
The publisher asked that authors help promote the book. As most university presses have extremely limited budgets, I wasn’t surprised at this request. I tweeted, Facebooked, and sent private emails to friends and family sharing the news. I also gave away numerous review copies, asking people to please post on Goodreads and Amazon. A specific marketing plan was never considered.
Recently I began receiving notes of appreciation about how much people had enjoyed the collection of stories. My Uncle gave copies to all of his friends in Colorado. One of my high school English teachers sent me a message through Facebook saying how much she enjoyed the book, and shared that they had sent copies to all of their friends which included a star by my name. She also asked that I let her know when my next book comes out. So, wow! How does a little collection of holiday stories grow legs like that and go places?
The great thing about social media is that it’s everywhere, can be done anytime, and is nonstop. The bad thing about social media is that it’s everywhere, day or night exhausting, immeasurable, and can rule your life. There’s no way to know where your tweets will land. There’s no immediate result that you can attribute to your efforts, so don’t even stress over it. The good thing about being an author in today’s social media climate is that we can do something everyday to promote ourselves and our work. It only takes a few seconds, and then we can go back to writing.
Oh, The Place You Might Go!
How many social media outlets are you utilizing? Even if you’re new to writing and unpublished, start today and begin building your social network. You can never imagine the places it may take you and your work. And as I’ve learned, don’t give up on your work. You never know where it might land, even years later.
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