Conference Tidbits: Marketing and Promotion

A friend of mine is about to sign their first book deal.  (Yay!!)  And, as a result, we’ve had a couple chats about marketing and promotion.

At the conference I attended earlier this month there was a great presentation on this very issue.  And one of the points the presenter made was really interesting to me (and really obvious once you stop to think about it): basically, that you want people who are interested in your book to subscribe to your mailing list or blog or what-have-you.

I’ve seen a number of authors do the following: They offer a free iPhone or Kindle or some other tasty treat in return for people signing up for their Facebook page or putting their book on their “to be read” list on Goodreads or signing up for their mailing list.

At first, this sounds like a great idea.  (And it still may be for Goodreads, we’ll circle back to that in a second).  More people=more potential sales, right?  Well, not really.  First, if someone signs up for your promotion because they want the pretty, shiny thing and they have no interest in what you write, it doesn’t help you to then promote to them.  They don’t want what you’re offering and probably never will.

Another thing that came up in this presentation was that having those types of people weighing down your FB page or mailing list can actually be harmful.  I’d never really given it much thought, but the presenter pointed out that if enough people mark your e-mails as spam, that you’ll be blocked from reaching the people who actually want to hear from you.  That’s some bad juju.

Also, the presenter mentioned that FB looks at how much people interact with your posts and the ones that get more likes and comments and shares get more visibility.  Well, if most people who like your FB page don’t actually like your FB page, then they’re not doing you any good because they’re not going to like or share or comment on your posts.  Better to have ten people who comment and like everything than 100 where only ten comment and like things.

So, anywhere that automated systems come into play, you should be trying to keep your audience to those that truly care about what you’re offering them.  That goes for mailing lists and FB, at a minimum.

Which means, if you want to do a free promo, offer your books.  Don’t offer techno gadgets or money.  Offer your books.  Not someone else’s.  Yours.  Yeah, when you’re starting out that may result in five people signing up, but at least you know those five people wanted your book.  (Or want anything that’s free…)  And if you give your book to one of those five people then maybe they’ll read it and like it and tell others about it.  Much better than wasting a couple hundred bucks on giving a freebie to someone who has no interest in what you’re doing.

Now, to circle back to Goodreads.  There’s this thing they’ve shown through psychology studies.  And that’s that we don’t always remember where we saw or heard something, we just remember it.  That’s why bad publicity can be a good thing.  Because five years from now someone will remember hearing that name, but not why they heard it.  So, if you can get added to a lot of “to be read” lists, then you’re upping your visibility.  People see  your book over and over and over again and it lodges somewhere in their unconscious.  And then later, when they’re browsing for books to read, they see the title again and think, “Oh, yeah.  I’ve heard of that” and they buy it.

So, if you can do a promo that gets your name mentioned over and over and over again, then sure, offer the shiny, pretty thing to attract more people.  But if we’re talking mailing lists and FB pages, focus on your potential readers and ignore the rest.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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