Monday, January 10, 2011

Marketing Monday

One of the reasons I took a break at the end of last year was because I was feeling disillusioned. I couldn't figure out exactly what I wanted out of my blog or the whole online platform experience. I had this sense that I'd been swept up in a tornado, the winds dragging me along, forcing me to spend more and more time on blogging (both writing and commenting) in order to gain more followers. A large number of followers seemed to be the point, given the number of posts dedicated to "how to gain more followers" I encountered.

And yet... as much as I like the blogging community, I wasn't sure I understood the point of it all. I have noticed that most writers' blogs are followed by other writers. If the point of building an online platform is to help market your work, are we really targeting our intended audience? Are we all buying each other's books?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the blog/twitter/facebook triangle. I think it's a terrific way to make connections with other authors and professionals in the publishing industry. I was simply trying to figure out what role it should play in marketing and promotion. Some authors use social media to terrific effect, but it's not the only marketing tool out there.

My thoughts were reinforced by posts like this exerpt from  Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice for Writers, Mary Kole's thoughts on Do Unpublished Writers Have to Blog?,and Jody Hedlund's thoughts on blogging blunders. (She has a recent post about whether fiction readers read authors' blogs that's worth reading, as well.)

During my hiatus I began researching marketing ideas, with a focus on marketing books for children (since they are most definitely NOT reading our blogs, following us no twitter, or friending us on facebook, and their parents probably aren't, either). I have also started interviewing published authors to find out what they have done to promote their books. These "case studies" include authors who have successfully used social media to reach their audience, and those who use other methods to promote their books. The first one will be up next Monday.

I hope the case studies will provide ideas for others, so when you get that contract and your book debuts, you, too, will be able to get it out there more effectively.

If you are a published author and would like to contribute a case study, please email me at anpstevens [at] gmail [dot] com.

 Why do you blog?


  1. I'll be looking forward to your case studies, Alison. Mostly I blog to feel a part of the writing community and stay in contact with other writers.

  2. Hi. I'm a new follower and this post is very timely. I've seen several posts lately on this subject as well. As a new writer, I blog to connect with other writer and because it gives me something to plan, write, and edit. Looking forward to your upcoming posts.

  3. Andrea: I hope you'll find them useful. I agree that connection to other writers seems to be the main reason to blog.

    Kari Marie: Welcome! I hope you find the case studies of use, as well. :)

  4. Hi Alison, Sounds like you're wrestling through some good questions. I personally like to evaluate the whole blogging/social media thing from time to time, just to make sure I'm not getting mindlessly swept up into the current. But overall, I've really found that even though I have almost entirely writers that follow me on my blog and twitter, that the connections I've made have really helped in the promotion of my book.

    Thanks for the shout-out about my posts! I appreciate it!

  5. I started blogging because I was told I needed to build a platform, but then I discovered a wonderful writing community and I've learned so much and I've been given so much support. But I was also talking with an agent recently and she says she is more interested in writers who are active in the community. Blogging helps to show potential agents that we are active and serious about our careers as writers.

  6. Blogging takes time away from writing. So, why do I do it? I've met a lot of great people and feel less alone in the writing process. I agree that sometimes it can feel a bit like a "popularity contest" with the whole # of followers thing, but the people I've met along the way are truly very genuine and helpful. I don't know any writers in my "real life" so the blogging community has become a wonderful support system for me. Christy

  7. Jody: Thanks for the feedback, and it's my pleasure to link to your blog--it's fabulous!

    Lynda: Good insight--thank you!

    Christy: I agree that the connections can be wonderful; that's why I do it, too. I was just having a bit of a blog identity crisis, I guess. :)

  8. Alison, I, too, blog because I enjoy the community of writers I've found. Like many others I struggled for a time with finding a purpose to my blog or how I might provide content that people need, but as soon as I get preoccupied with content, I freeze up and can't do it. Blogging for me has become more of a conversation than anything else, a way of feeling a part of things so I can go back and write with more confidence and the knowledge that I have a place here.

    Thanks for the links to all the great articles on the subject.

  9. Wow excellent topic Alison. This came up at WriteOnCon last year and I was surprised that one of the agents said they would prefer a follower count of 100 twitter followers for example who are writers than hundreds of readers/general public. Although you are talking about in terms of selling books, what a lot of people are saying in the comments is the support system is so valuable in so many ways, agents won't need to hold your hand if you have that support already. And I have recently bought four books from 4 new authors I know, so I think that works a bit too. Like Rachelle said recently we need to support the market we are trying to get into. And we all love books right? I can't wait for your case studies, what a great idea.