Marketing, Promotion, Social Media

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.

Promotion Results

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.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six, and please SHARE our posts with your friends!

EVERY Idea has Potential

EVERY Idea has Potential

west texas christmas stories

If you’re brand new to writing, you may have self-doubt. You might question sentence structure, your novel’s length, character motivation, the list goes on and on.

If you’re fairly new to writing, you might have dealt with these self doubt issues already, but might be shocked at how much your writing changes over a week, months, even years.

Whatever stage you’re at in this game, I want to emphasize the importance of writing every idea that pops into your head. As I blogged about last week, we must become fearless. The hardest part is to stop trying to make sense of the ideas that come to you at the most inopportune times.  I say this because I’ve let so many slip away.  However, one idea that I didn’t let slip away became a published story this week.

West Texas Christmas Stories

In 2006, I remember having an idea for a Christmas story. No clue as to why it came to me or where I was, but it was about a cowboy spending a lonely holiday and being content in his life.  Last year, I watched an old cowboy greet the morning sun on his horse just before he rode out into to the pasture to gather a herd. The look on his face was pure joy and contentment. The horse seemed excited too. For both of them a day’s work was just ahead, doing what they loved to do. That old cowboy reminded me of that holiday story. I found it on my computer, polished it up, and wondered where I could send it. This year, someone forwarded a story call out to me. My story fit the submission criteria, I submitted it, and had a “Yes” before days end. Six years after I had made a note, the spark became a published story in West Texas Christmas Stories with Abilene Christian University Press.

Write, Write, Write

The more you exercise that writing muscle, the more your eyes will look at the world as a writer. I remember taking our kids to the Fort Worth Zoo, just after I had begun to write fiction. My oldest, who was around seven then, said, “Would you stop saying everything’s a story.” My husband agreed, “ It is annoying.”

I hadn’t even realized I’d been speaking out loud, but the entire day held fascinating events, animals, sights and sounds wherever I turned. I couldn’t contain my excitement at seeing the world in a different light; through the eyes of a writer. Because everyone seemed annoyed, I didn’t take a note one. I was too embarrassed. I can’t help but wonder what might have been the fate of all of those ideas I never wrote down.

Now, I carry a journal or notebook everywhere and even snap a zillion pics with my iPhone. I’ll let you know the results in another six years or so. How crazy is this business?