Scattergun Promotions (Guest Blog with Bev. Cooke)

…Not the best choice

Everybody tells you to promote – you have to get your name out there, make sure the entire world knows who you are, that you’ve got zillions of followers on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook and a Klout number in the high 80s.

If you’re not careful, you can spend all your time promoting and have nothing to show for it, including new and better writing. What most experts propose is a “scattergun” approach: throw a lot of stuff around all over the place and you’re bound to hit something. But is that the best way to get your name out there? Probably not, especially when you’re writing for kids.

You have to be careful about how and where and what you promote. Targeting carefully, planning ahead and looking to the long term are probably better strategies than simply putting yourself all over the place.

Ask yourself why you write, and why you write for kids. Lots of money and fame? Your books in print for generations? Awards and recognition for your quality? Movie and TV deals? All of those are legitimate goals, but each of them needs a specific marketing strategy. Take some time and define what success means to you. Once you know that, you’re in a much better position to adjust your promotion to fit your writing goals.

For whom do you write? There’s a big difference between writing board books for toddlers, picture books for kindergarteners and novels for young adults. Your readers are the people you promote to. If you write young adults, why aren’t you on teen sites, teen forums and teen places on the net? Do you do volunteer work with teens? Why not? If you’re writing picture books and books for younger kids, then why aren’t you on parenting sites, writing for parenting and grandparenting magazines, hooking up with parenting groups and grandparenting groups? And why aren’t you, whichever group you write for, hooking up with librarians, schools and bookstore owners? Promoting to other writers can help you broaden your audience reach, as they promote you to their readers, but promoting only to other writers is a bad mistake.

A lot of marketing strategies are designed for and by extroverts – people who love people and can talk easily and well with strangers about just about anything. Their twitter posts are always funny, pointed and brilliant. Status updates are layered, elegant and erudite. They stand in front of a room full of kids wearing silly costumes, make a fool out of themselves and love every minute of it. Introverts can’t do that.

One thing that comes through clearly whether you’re in person or on the web is how relaxed and genuine you are when you’re talking to strangers, acting a role you may not be used to or taking risks with your personality type. If you’re not the kind of person who can wear a lamp shade and do the fandango on the dining room table while sober, chances are you’re not going to be able to don a costume, act silly and make a fool out of yourself to promote your book. So don’t try. Find ways that let you be you when you promote your book and yourself. It’s the same on the web. If you have a knack for coming up with pithy phrases, great puns or plays on words and fantastic one liners, then twitter is probably a good venue. If not, don’t go there.

If all you’re doing is following the advice of experts without thinking about who you are, what you want to accomplish with promotion and how long it’s going to take you to reach your writing goals, then you’re not doing yourself any favours, and you may even be doing yourself harm. In all the frenzy of getting your name and your books out there, you’re forgetting why you’re promoting. As a writer friend of mine pointed out: we are writers. If we don’t deliver the content after all the hype, no amount of promotion or marketing is going to sustain us for the long term.

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Meet our guest:

Bev. Cooke is a young adult writer and writing coach whose books appeal to both teens and adults. Her marketing strategies are tailored for her audiences – writers, teens and adults. She’s published “Feral” from Orca Book Publishers, about street life seen through a cat’s eyes, “Royal Monastic” the first book length biography of Princess Ileana of Romania, and Keeper of the Light, an historical fiction for midgrade and young adults about an early Christian saint, both published by Conciliar Press. Bev and her family converted to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith in 2003, and she’s been active in that writing and religious world ever since. She blogs at Bevnal Abbey Scriptorium http://bevnalabbeyscriptorium.wordpress.com/ and is on Facebook at Bev. Cooke, writer.

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4 responses to “Scattergun Promotions (Guest Blog with Bev. Cooke)

  1. “If all you’re doing is following the advice of experts without thinking about who you are, what you want to accomplish with promotion and how long it’s going to take you to reach your writing goals, then you’re not doing yourself any favours, and you may even be doing yourself harm.”
    Words of wisdom!

    Found this post via Jon Gibbs’s blog.

  2. eleanorsullivan

    I agree with you, Bev. Plus, I think you have to give people something useful, like review of a book you like or share interesting information, just like you’ve done here. I reveal the history behind my historical mystery fiction on my blog. It’s a way to share all that research that I’ve done (!) and might interest someone in my book. It’s the “soft sell” rather than “all about me.” Thanks for the post.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Karen. When starting out on any new endeavour, it’s hard to know what path to take. Personally, I review a lot of information before making a decision about what I think will work for me and my style/personality. Then I work like hell to do the best I can. While working my way through the morass of information into this thing called book publishing, I’ve made an agreement with myself-half the day for research and half the day for writing. Of course when I get on a roll with my writing, that takes over my entire thought process. So far, it seems to be working. 🙂

  4. I have found that the best way to promote is to find a news article and relate it to your book. Newspapers love it because it lets them know that you have read them. Elaine Abramson – Thursday’s Child.

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