Zig While Others Zag

“It’s about the journey, not the destination.” (Image via Tubbn on Pixabay)

This is an old column from June 2010 that I still think holds up, although the specific suggestions could probably stand an update, I suppose.

Here’s what I wrote for what’s it worth.

One thing about marketing and selling products online is that there are all sorts of clever tricks and techniques you can use to reach people.

Establishing an online presence is important (or so we are told). This can be done (at a minimum) with a Web site and/or a blog.

In addition, social media have become essential elements to maintaining an online presence. People, businesses, organizations and others are establishing Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles and Twitter accounts.

Furthermore, there are online forums in which to participate. In the world of publishing books, you have a plethora of discussions threads on Amazon where some authors seem to post constantly. Plus you’ve got forums like the Kindleboards (to name just one), where they hang out.

I was participating in many of these forums (as well as using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging — on five blogs) and following the discussions, until I started to see the same names repeatedly. Always promoting the same books.

Overwhelmed with email notices of responses, I finally stopped following most of these threads. I simply had to disconnect from the onslaught of online information (most of it self-serving, anyway). All those book recommendations — who has the time to note and read all of them? I wish I could support each and every one of you who post about books (your own or others’) by buying them. But I’m just one human being with limited time and resources. And a ginormous TBR (to be read, in case you don’t know) list. A list that’s grown as if fed steroids.

This has me wondering if others are choosing to blow through my online posts (about my book or others’) as much as I’ve had to blow through theirs. It’s simple self-defense and triage. You can’t possibly follow up on every review and recommendation out there. It’s nothing personal. I’m just starting to wonder if these forums are really a feasible way to be noticed.

Part of the problem is that once an online strategy becomes known, people will flock to it like a herd of stampeding cattle. But if everyone’s taking the same strategy to be noticed, how noticed will you really be?

And, for that matter, how many actual readers will you reach? Are these forums and social media networks only reaching other authors? I’ve noticed authors tend to connect with each other on various forums, Facebook and email lists. There’s nothing wrong with this, but where do the readers come into the picture?

Having said that, the question is, what can you do that’s different? How can you stand out from the crowd?

I can’t claim to be an expert on this topic. But here are a few ideas.

  1. Do a blog tour. Now many authors have done blog tours. However, in this case, it’s not the concept but the execution that gives you a shot at standing out. Can you find an interesting and unique theme to blog about over the course of three or four weeks? Something that will help define you as an author and build your brand. If so, you can reach a much wider audience by posting on someone else’s blog. Of course, the more established the blog, the better. And preferably one geared toward readers in your genre.
  2. Offer promotional incentives. I got this idea while working on the Amazon launch for my book. I started considering the kind of promotional bonuses that might appeal to mystery lovers. (I’m thinking food, wine and chocolate here. Possibly jewelry and cosmetics, since so many mystery readers are women.) As a person who networks with people who actually sell such things, I’m wondering if there’s a way to work together on this. Perhaps the provider could offer a promotional coupon for their food or wine (or whatever), to people who buy my book directly from me. Naturally, this would require changes in my Web site (heads up, Cincinnati Media!), which I’m currently pursuing.
  3. Connect with readers. Connect with possible readers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (yes, I think LinkedIn has its uses). And keep the communication lines open between you. When readers email you, be sure to respond as soon as possible. If there’s a delay in responding, apologize and explain why. It’s a simple and effective form of customer relations. When you’re responsive and polite, people will remember. They may be more inclined to take a chance on you, if you’re a new and unknown author.
  4. Run a contest or offer a discount. Again, these aren’t anything new. The beauty is that it’s so much easier to get the word out about these promos now. You can run a contest on your blog, then post it as an event on Facebook and send an invitation to visit your blog to all your friends, so they can participate. Tweet about your contest, of course. Send the word out to email lists you’re on, as well as email distribution lists you keep. Essentially, you can leverage the promotion for your contest or discount through email, social media and forums — thus doing the double duty of not only promoting your book, but promoting your brand as an author.

These are just four suggestions off the top of my head. I’m sure you could probably come up with more, if you think about it. The operative word here is “think,” rather than simply engage in a herd mentality.

And have you noticed my suggestions combine old techniques with new methods of communication?

Will these measures guarantee overnight success? Of course not. But you’ll probably get farther with them than you would with shouting over the noise of the crowd.

PS: I’d add here that, as of this writing, you should be developing an engaged group of subscribers to your email list.

There’s more than one way to connect with people. Think before you spend. 🙂

PPS: Cincinnati Media used to to maintain my website. Now, I do. This is either really convenient or really dumb. 🙂

Originally published at http://randomandsundrythings.wordpress.com on November 19, 2021.

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New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.

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