But, comfortable with it or not, authors are expected to participate in the marketing of their books, in getting the word out about what they've written and why readers might want to take a look at it.
So how does one go about this when they have no idea how to start?
Find someone who knows what they're talking about.
When I wanted to learn how to write, I consulted (via books and workshops) experts in the world of fiction-writing like James Scott Bell and Donald Maass, Angela Hunt and Karen Ball. As a consequence, I decided I needed to find experts in marketing to learn from, and not just marketing anything, but marketing fiction.
So when I attended the ACFW Conference in Denver in 2009, I sat in on the professional track because they were going to talk about marketing. In this particular class, Allen Arnold from Thomas Nelson, spoke about the need to stop thinking about marketing as shoving your book under peoples' noses and rather embrace the idea of forming a tribe, which he compared to hosting a party. Now that was a concept I could get behind. I like parties.
He was adamant that the best place to host your party was on Twitter. Free, easy, and folks were joining in droves.
Meh. Twitter? That sucked all the fun out of the discussion.
Yet another thing to keep track of, another bandwagon to jump on, something else to demand my time. Wasn't Twitter just for texting-happy teens to talk about Justin Bieber and or Timberlake and how much homework their teachers were piling on? (How far out of the loop am I? I had to do a Google search to figure out how to spell Bieber and it still looks wrong.) But back to Twitter. What on earth could I accomplish towards building a tribe at only 140 characters a whack? Would I constantly have to speak in text? LOL? C U L8R?
And yet, the more Allen Arnold spoke about the possibilities, the more inclined I was to trust him. Why?
a) Allen is a great communicator
b) He's passionate about authors, and
c) He's very good at his job with Thomas Nelson Publishers.
If Allen said Twitter was a must, then I'd best take a long hard look at the whole tweeting thing.
Let's just say my first foray into the Twitter-verse wasn't a happy one. Within a month of opening a Twitter account, I got hacked and my brand new friend list got spammed with junk. Ugh. I considered scrapping the whole thing, but I decided that to really be fair, I'd give it another chance.
Since those early days, I've learned a few things about using Twitter.
- To create a wicked strong password to avoid getting highjacked.
- To use Tweetdeck for managing different lists of people on Twitter, and also to allow me to update my Facebook page and my Twitter feed in one step. There are lots of programs out there to choose from that will help you organize your social media, but I like Tweetdeck best.
- To observe what others were doing and don't be afraid to ask questions. Twitter folks are very friendly. They explained things like the meanings of hashtags (#) and the importance of re-tweets. Twitter has a jargon all its own, and while at first it might seem intimidating, with a little help and observation, it can be learned.
- To be social. Twitter is a Social media. Use it to make friends and talk about things you have in common with other people. After all, that's what this whole marketing thing is. Finding people who have things in common with you--be it books, babies, or bunny rabbits--and get to know them. Before you know it, you'll have a tribe. You'll be hosting a party.
If you don't have an account with Twitter, I'd encourage you to test the waters. If you'd like to find me on Twitter, you can click on this link: http://twitter.com/#!/EricaVetsch or the Twitter button in my sidebar. I'd love to see what we have in common.