Oh, the woeful road of developing a marketing strategy…and the very important/specific question of “How far are you willing to go in order to sell your product.”
In the past few weeks, I’ve read way too many marketing tip articles, subscribed to several marketing blogs in my feedreader, and, well, I’ve ingested so much advice on marketing that my brain is literally (okay, yes, I know, it’s actually figuratively at best, but you should learn about hyperbole someday) swimming in marketing knowledge nonsense.
But the one question that I find myself trying to answer with each tip I read is that same one at the top of the article. How far AM I willing to go to sell my books?
I’ve long joked about the idea that I would sell out the second someone gave me the chance to. Honestly, if someone were to offer me a sack of cash to allow them to completely destroy any integrity my books may have…I’ll admit that there would probably be a slight pause before answering. I’ll also admit that I’m not entirely certain I know HOW I would respond. Cash for writing is kind of the goal here, who am I to be setting the standards on which that cash is received.
But at the same time, I’m well aware of the fact that I’m rather careful about how I wish to present myself as an author. For years I knew that my site looked rather unprofessional, but didn’t want to look as though I took myself too seriously. It actually took me being able to reframe the idea of selling books, of showing that I am incredibly damned proud of my books, to allow myself to actually want to plaster my face on everything, just to, you know, actually market myself as an author. Heck…when I first started working on putting my books out there, I didn’t even put my name on the cover. That’s how willing I was to sell myself.
Yet, I still have those limits. Sure, I have a website that shows my face a ton more than I’m honestly comfortable with…and will probably continue to do so for a while, seeing as it appears to be driving more sales, but I still haven’t actually found myself able to sell out. I mean, I could be going on every single blog ever and posting comments about how everyone should buy my books and then going onto every facebook page ever and doing the same, and then begging my friends and family to pimp my books while also guilting my entire audience on a weekly basis about how they should really leave reviews for me and please please please tell your friends to read my books. I’ve been tempted to do these things, as there is some data showing that just being this utterly shameless does typically well for many…although, typically in the short term.
Yet, it’s not the questions of return on investment that keep me from going those routes. It’s that limit I’ve built in, without actually directly drawing a line in the sand to designate it.
Nobody owes me anything, much less those who have already read my books. If anything, I owe them, simply because they were willing to give my writing a chance. If you tell your friends about my books, I’m incredibly grateful, don’t get me wrong about that, but I can hardly feel comfortable trying to guilt you into doing so. Just by being aware of my books, you’ve probably done more for me than I deserve. I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve been introduced to friends of friends with the statement of “he’s an author.” I may fail on the following salespitch, but with those simply words, you’ve opened the door for me to attempt to convince more people that my books are worth the shot.
And that’s ultimately my job right now (outside of, you know, my real job, the whole parenting thing, and the actual writing books part). I should be selling. I’m terrible at it and I suffer from a serious case of the “I don’t want to”s, but that’s MY job. Which is why I typically try to make it seem like you have such requirements to assist me.
But the line on marketing doesn’t just get stopped there. I mean, there are obviously great schools of marketing thought devoted to the idea of getting a grassroots marketing campaign off the ground by rallying your friends and family behind you…which would be cool, of course, so, if you’re working on that, I’m not trying to stop you 🙂 But for me to try to organize my friends and family into some sort of forced version of that…it probably wouldn’t do me that much good anyways. If it’s what my books deserve, I feel confident it will happen anyways. If it’s not…cool. There’s always other methods in which to market a book…methods that I’ve avoided simply because I didn’t want to put the time in on the actual marketing.
See, that’s actually where another line was produced, until very recently. Although I don’t like to consider myself a hipster, the hipsters created much of their definition directly off of me. As such…I didn’t want to appear to be trying to convince people to want to buy my books. It’s a stupid thing, and that’s why I’m working to change my approach, but I spent so much time actively avoiding marketing my books for forever, just because I didn’t want to look like I was marketing my books. It’s one thing to avoid annoying friends and family, it’s another thing entirely to hide from telling anyone about your books at all…and that’s just bad business.
The concept of letting your light shine was never more applicable for my own personal life than here. I avoided even allowing people to know that I wrote, simply because I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying too hard to get noticed. Of course, I’d then sit back and hope that they would check out the silly domain name I have attached to my e-mail account, or find out that I’m an author some other way.
I have many lines that I’ve drawn in the sand…some may be ones that I cross over on after I’m able to reframe the issue. There are a few that I’m mulling over at the moment, which on the surface seem to be completely opposite of what I believe…but at the same time are entirely solid marketing ideas. There are a few that I’ve been avoiding simply because they involve me putting myself out there…something that is still a little frightening, even though my books have been read all across the globe.
I never liked being a salesman, and when I started writing, it was never a part of it I had even considered being necessary.
But it is. And I’m working on it…and I’m trying to get rid of as many of those idiotic lines in the sand, while also keeping the ones in place that I think actually designate integrity.
But it’s a slow process…and I fear that there may be more than a few times where the wrong lines get crossed as I work through developing my business persona.
I just hope that you’ll all tell me the second that happens.
Alright, back to work. Have fun out there!