Feb. 05, 2012 – UNF’s Book Marketing Workshop
Saturday was spent at the University of North Florida in a continuing education workshop learning how to market my novel (once I get the beast written). Author Sharon Cobb (sharonycobb.com) did a wonderful job sharing a plethora of useful information on marketing techniques and, as always, inspiring me to come home and do something to further my writing career. So, I started before I even got home.
I stopped by Barnes & Noble at the Town Center to pick up The Indie Author Guide by April L. Hamilton to help me prepare for self-publishing. Sharon recommended it and though I haven’t had a chance to really delve into all of the topics in it, the little I did read seemed helpful. I read a part of the chapter on publishing that reaffirmed my decision to self-publish my novels in both paperback format and as ebooks. Why would I give a large portion of my book sales, not to mention my creativity, away to a publishing house? Going indie keeps both under my control.
When I got home, I re-evaluated all of the media outlets that I use for reaching potential readers to see if they aligned with my brand. My website’s image needed to be updated to appear fresher, newer, so I changed the header on my author site from a stone bridge (which is still an important image indicative of who I am) to Gerbera daisies that better fit my author brand. The shape, the color, the repetition, even the blurred background all fit in to the perception I want to project to my potential readers. The new header matches my business cards and book marks, which match the color choices I have made for my wardrobe when I go to writing functions. All of these changes project a persona for my prospective readership that is reflected in my writing – natural spirituality, a belief in true love, and whimsical fantasy.
It wasn’t enough, however, just to change the appearance of my website. I had to commit to updating the posts on an even more regular basis. I had been posting roughly every three weeks, but Sharon suggested that we post at least once a week. I find it difficult to post that often because I feel like I should be spending that time writing on my novel, but posting on my blog allows me to keep in contact with followers and prospective buyers of my books. I can use this medium to share with readers information that I am an expert in. I can entice them with some of my newer works that involve my characters. And writing blog posts help me become a better writer in general. I have an audience that expects me to cover certain subjects, so I better do a good job or I won’t have followers for long.
Another step I took to work on the marketing of my novel Echo was to carve out time every day to socialize with my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. This is also a challenge for me because I feel like I shouldn’t be spending my time on social networks; it’s counterproductive to getting my writing done. Actually, it is a necessary tool for networking and spreading the word out about any news associated with my writing –book signings, speaking engagements, workshops, etc. And it lets people know that I am a person, too, with a family and hobbies and a life other than writing. So, this weekend I made it a point to tweet during the Super Bowl – about the game, about the commercials, about half-time, and about what others were saying about any of those topics. I’m making it a goal to comment on Twitter and Facebook at least twice a day.
So, while most people would think that sitting in a classroom is a terrible way to spend a Saturday, I found the time was an investment in me. I came away from the workshop with renewed inspiration and motivation, ready to get my novel finished and market it. I tell everyone who is an aspiring writer to look into continued education classes, especially at UNF. What you get out of them is always more than what you give up.