This post is part of my series on my Writerly Business Plan. Here are the first 4 parts and the other information that goes with the Plan:
- The Goal Statement
- Products and Ideas
- Marketing Tools – the Blog
- and a guest post from David Rozansky on Bookkeeping for Writers
- and some guest posts from Reviewers (see side-bar)
Marketing Tools – the Twitter (Redux)
Okay now this post is ready to go live. The other day I was just in the process of getting thoughts down…thought I’d better save it before something happened. Then what did I do? I hit the ‘Publish’ button instead of the ‘Save Draft’ button. And there it was. Too late to retract. I hate it when that happens.
I write my blog posts in the same manner I write other stuff and the first draft is usually pretty rough. But I’ve found a way to avoid that in the future. The first thing I do is set the publish date for 2014. That way if I accidentally hit the wrong key again, no harm done. Unless I forget to finish it for the next couple years.
What you might have seen the first time around was this sentence: I don’t like seeing people ‘hawk’ their books on Twitter. And I don’t. But I realize we need to be able to use Twitter (and the other media) for marketing.
The problem is that the direct ‘Buy my book’ route doesn’t work. It could be anything, not just books – I don’t like that sales approach used on me. If I am shopping for something, I’ll browse through what I know or go to a trade-show.
It’s that ‘what I know’ phrase that matters. It’s good that as a shopper I know about you and what you have to sell. Twitter as bazaar isn’t the Twitter I like to use. Of course, I don’t have a book ready to sell – yet – but from what I’ve seen in how * I * react when people Follow or Friend me just to sell me something, it’s a fruitless and time-sucking endeavor.
A lot of writers don’t see the value in Twitter because they’ve tried that route to sell and it didn’t get them far. So they’ve written it off. Which brings me to the point of this blog post today. Twitter is an excellent tool. It’s the best I know for building a large network.
Networking is way different from selling. Marketing is not directly selling. It’s the art of making someone want whatever you are offering. When you put networking and marketing together, it’s really very powerful. And even though I don’t have a book for a product yet, I do have my blog and my writerly identity. And along the way I’ll also have connections. Those three things are part of the foundation of my business plan and so I’m giving them a lot of attention early on. Why? Because it takes a pretty good amount of time to build quality networks.
You can’t just subscribe to a mailing list and hope voila’ *poof* your network appears.
What are Networks?
I envision networks as concentric circles enfolding groups of people I know, each larger than the last and containing the smaller group within. I’m going to work outwards from the innermost smallest, most personal circle. Your household is your smallest circle. These are the people you see every day.
Unfortunately for many, as far as business is concerned, your household often doesn’t take you serious. So it’s not that they don’t count, per se, but for some of us, our household network isn’t going to sell many books for us. There again, though, is the difference between selling and networking. Here’s a great definition of the difference from Express Yourself to Success:
The main difference between selling and networking is that in a sales process the goal of the interaction between two people is the sale of a product or service. When networking, this sale could be the consequence of a contact that is built with respect and care. So it is clear that the sale is not the goal of networking, but a nice and in many cases a logical consequence.
Suppose, for example, that your son has a friend who loves to read. In this example that really happened, he mentions casually to his friend that his mom is a writer. So the friend is interested in what mom writes. Mom has to dig hard to find something appropriate in her catalogue of finished stories for a 15-year-old boy, but she finds it and hands it over. After reading the story that boy has become a life-long fan.
So through networking with my son (which happened rather organically as networking in general will when you’ve gotten comfortable and understand it) turned into a potential sale. This concept of potential sales and finding them is important. I’ll come back to that after I finish talking about the network circles.
The next larger circle is your extended family, close friends and coworkers. These are all people who, like your household, are part of your network by default. If you don’t talk about what you do, it’s unlikely that you’ll find potential sales among them, but it’s possible. Any one of them could be interested in what you write. But I’m discriminating about who in my network at this level I talk to about my stories. I might not want my co-workers, for example, to know I write weird Lovecraftian erotica sometimes.
Next circle out is your acquaintances. I go to crit groups and many of the members of this group are in the closer circle, but most are part of this larger circle of friends and acquaintances. This potentially could be a very large and rich network. Rich in contacts and referrals and potential sales. But we have to include more than just other writers in our larger circle.
Bookstores often have clubs and that’s a great place to find readers who love your genre. I don’t have time to network in person like this, though, so my middle circles aren’t very large. My smallest circle isn’t very large either. Don’t limit yourself by thinking only in terms of networking with only people like yourself. Be open to all the possibilities. You might find new friends you’d otherwise have never met.
The largest circle is the world at large. And this is where Twitter shines. I mean it really shines so brightly you’d need sunglasses if you realized the potential. It’s so important to reach beyond your local circle of friends and acquaintances if you want to have a large network and that’s how Twitter can help. My blog, Facebook, and Twitter all interface with each other and one alone isn’t very helpful when everyone I network with has a presence in all three areas.
Here’s another good resource if you’re looking for ideas on how to market your book:
Red Dwyer Promoter, Publicist & Publisher Momma’s Money Matters
“Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: No begging. A marketer (or author who has sold oodles of books) told you to post the link to your buy page on every social network and keep posting it. That advice probably netted you a handful of sales the first time you did it. It is not so effective now, is it? Discover alternative strategies to turning shoppers into buyers.”
Users are Losers
Something to keep in mind is that no one likes to be just someone’s potential sale. It’s important to also give. We can give in our own unique ways.
For the boy who read my story and became my fan, I gave him a great escape. He also gets to say ‘he knew me when’. (Hopefully one day he can cash in on that reward!) And I gave him the respect of considering it worth my time to find a story for him to read. One of the other ways I give is by hosting guest speakers so they can talk about their businesses and expand their networks through my blog and limited but still important network.
When I’ve built a larger and even more valuable network, I’ll be able to give more by having more contacts to connect others to.
So giving is a very important part of the equation.
My get is the contacts I’m making through this effort. I’m ‘meeting’ (in this day and age, important deals are closed over the internet and phone, so contacts you have via the net are legitimate) and networking with reviewers (who will be very important when I have books ready to review), writers with more or different connections than myself, agents, and coaches. Good connections or contacts are more than just names in a rolodex. Or Twitter Following nowadays. Good contacts are maintained through periodic connecting.
What are Good Contacts or Connections?
When one of your contacts calls on you, you should be able to place who they are with a brief reminder (if you don’t communicate with them often). In the same way, you should have made enough conversation with them that they’ll remember you with a brief reminder if it is you doing the initial contacting.
I’ve met authors I’d never dreamed of meeting, such as Dr. Harrison Solow and Jacqueline Lichtenberg. When I get to Chicon7 in late August, I’ll get to really meet Jacqueline – a connection first made through Twitter at one of the chats (maybe #LitChat but possibly #Scifichat) and then later through Evmaroon’s blog on pitching.
More Good Uses of Twitter
More directly important to my writing career is that through Twitter I can keep up with my favorite magazine and book editors. Sometimes they talk about what they wish they were seeing in their submissions.
I found out about Buzzy Multimedia’s call for submissions for their new magazine through someone tweeting about it. So I submitted right away. Buzzy liked my story and contracted it. My very first short story sale came from sitting in on a chat on Twitter among editors of magazines. It was open to writers and the editors were talking about their projects. I heard about the anthology Carrie Cuin was working on (Cthulhurotica) and wrote her contact info down when she said she was still looking for stories. Important stuff for writers! All of that has happened because I learned to make effective use of Twitter.
Debra Marrs is someone else I’ve met through Twitter. She’s an editor, author, and author’s coach at Your Write Life. During the most recent #LitChat I sat in on (at Twitter) she mentioned that issue of potential sales.
She and a couple of the agents and other authors there agreed it’s important to be able to tell your agent or publisher that you will be have at least 100 fairly guaranteed sales. David Rozenberg had mentioned that as well, when he did his guest post here on Bookkeeping for Writers. He knew of agents or coaches who wouldn’t even accept a client unless they could say with confidence that they’d have at least 100 guaranteed sales. Unless you have a large inner circle you can depend on to buy your book, this is why a larger network is so important.
Another way I Use Twitter
Twitter has been essential to finding new Friday Fictioneers(where writers can showcase their talent and get feedback from other writers on how to improve their craft). One benefit to participants of that is blog traffic. Some of us rarely got comments on our blogs before we started meeting on Fridays. This is one example of how I give and how I get. I love encouragement. We all need it from time to time. But we also need constructive criticism. I’m also learning from the crit others have offered on mine and other stories. So it’s a quid pro quo arrangement we all benefit from. (Feel free to join us!)
On Thursday this week I’m launching a new challenge on my blog intended to give us as writers a chance to hone our 25 word pitches. It’ll also help us find those 100 potential sales. If you’ve never condensed an entire novel into 25 words you’ll find it surprisingly difficult! What we’ll do is throw our pitch out there and let readers vote on whether it’s enticing enough to make us buy the book. If it needs work, the writers among us will offer constructive crit. I hope I haven’t rambled on too long, and I hope you’ll join us in the fun we’ve been having on my blog!
Don’t forget to come back on Tuesday to see more about the pitch throwing plan. You have to ask people if they will buy your book after you tell them what it’s about. The pitch throwing will give us a chance to find the best way to entice, and you’ll get to have a record of all your ‘Yes’ answers to that important question.
On a purely *how-to* practical note: I learned how to ‘do’ Twitter the same way I learned (finally) how to ‘do’ Algebra…quit thinking about *how* to do it and just *do* it Once you give up trying to understand it becomes easier. But it does sort of require you to detach from logic and read between lines. And it takes practice to communicate ideas in 140 characters. Sometimes we have to serial tweet to get the point across (notate that with a … at the end and a 1/2 if you have another tweet following).
Other writers have written books on the hashtags and other features of Twitter that make it useful. Kristin Lamb has one of the most popular books (We Are Not Alone, also called WANA) and her blog is a great resource too. She’s entertaining and informative and makes building a platform sound so easy it’s impossible not to try.
Please comment and let me know if you’d rather me break long posts like this into more than one day’s post. I decided to go on and post it all, since this is a Sunday and some of us are not as busy that day. On weekdays, I generally try to keep to shorter posts. But I might be all talked out now and not post anything at all tomorrow!