Cinnabar Bridge

December 25, 2008

The reluctant marketer

My president’s letter for the BAIPA News [January 2009]

You know you have to do it. You know books won’t sell without it. But what if you are a reluctant marketer?

What if you hate selling? Promoting yourself? What if you are shy? Or can’t imagine doing any of John Kremer’s “1001 Ways to Market Your Books.”

Egads, what do you do then?

First, take a deep breath. Second, find a support system – one friend, a BAIPA member, a PR or publicity person. Find someone you can connect with on this topic. For those of us who are reluctant marketers, and I am one, it is hard, if not impossible, to do this alone. Sometimes it’s even contrary to our nature.

Next, make a bunch of lists: what you can do – and what you can’t; what is easy for you to do – and what isn’t; what you’re good at – and what you aren’t; what comes naturally to you. Maybe it’s just one thing. Maybe you can blog online. Maybe you can speak in front of groups. Maybe you can talk on the radio. Or read your stories to children. Maybe you already know all about book groups.

Maybe… well you see where I’m going with this. And what Kremer’s book can help you with is to see possibilities. It’s not a to-do list. You don’t have to start on page one and do all 1001 things.

Finally, make a list of what you hate to do (or think you would hate to do) to market your book. What are those tasks that actually make you nauseous when you think about doing them?

As you build these lists, be honest with yourself. See where the positives overlap and where the negatives overlap. Sit with it. Find one or two things you can do fairly easily without a huge investment of time, energy, and money. If at all possible, identify something you think might actually be fun.

And finally, do some brainstorming to figure out who your natural allies might be. If this is too hard to do alone, find someone who’s good at this to help you generate ideas that you can follow up on later.

For me, there are many things about marketing and selling that I hate. I hate networking. I hate selling – “Please, won’t you buy my books?” I hate spending time even thinking about selling my books.

But, what I can do is blog. I can do a podcast. I am not afraid of technology, so I can use online tools. I can read out loud in public and stand in front of groups and give a workshop.

And I can change the language around this process. And sometimes that’s enough — Don’t call it selling — call it building community. Don’t call it networking — call it finding your natural allies. Don’t call it selling out – call it finding your audience.

Spend some time finding those few things you can, and even like to, do. The effort is worth it.

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