Thursdays with Amanda has become one of my go-to places on the web every… well, every Thursday. Amanda Luedeke is an agent with Chip MacGregor Literary and she blogs on Thursdays about book marketing. I think my favorite takeaway I’ve gotten from her so far is the Five-Thing Marketing Rule that she talks about in this guest blog. Be sure to read to the end because she is giving away a copy of her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer. *You’re going to want it.*
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM AN AUTHOR WILL FACE
It happens to nearly every writer. You have a book idea. You painstakingly try to work writing into your hectic schedule by skipping yoga or unvolunteering from the PTA or waking at the crack of dawn. It’s tough, but eventually you figure it out even if it takes way longer than you’d care to admit.
And then you have a book! And yay!!! Life couldn’t get any better, because now is the part where you get to see what can come of said book. So you attend conferences and send out emails and scour publishing and agent blogs. You do all that you can to figure this author thing out and them WHAM. The word “platform” hits you in the face.
It may not always happen at that point in time…you may get your first book deal or you may receive your first royalty statement before platform becomes your nemesis. Or, it may not be until you look at your Amazon sales rankings or talk with your author friends or realize that things just aren’t going the way you planned.
But it happens…it happens to every writer at some point in his or her career. They realize that it’s not enough to write a book. They realize authors also need to be marketers.
And so you’re faced with the ultimate dilemma, because you’ve already cut out yoga and the PTA and those two precious hours of sleep. You’ve already done what you can to make writing work. And now you have to take even more time away from your family, from your hobbies, from your life, just to market this book…to spend time doing something that you may not even fully understand.
WHY I LIKE TO TALK ABOUT MARKETING
Before working in publishing, I spent some years at a marketing firm. I did social media marketing and copywriting for some major brands. So when I started working in the book industry five years ago, I quickly saw a need to address this very difficult topic. I began blogging every Thursday on the company blog, ChipMacGregor.com. I began teaching about marketing at writers’ conferences. And I wrote an author marketing book…kind of like a foundational tool for using social media to create an author platform and market your product. It’s called The Extroverted Writer.
But despite all of the tips and tricks and ideas, finding the time is still so crucial. Because if you never actually sit down and take the time to do marketing, then marketing won’t ever happen.
So what’s the secret? How can writing be doable without cutting into the other things that are so important?
People often want specifics…they want to know how much time to spend writing versus marketing. So to get us started, here’s what I tell authors:
If you write FICTION and are unpublished: four parts writing to one part marketing/building your brand or platform.
If you write FICTION and are published or have a book coming out: two parts writing to one part marketing/building your brand or platform.
If you write NONFICTION: one part writing to three parts marketing. (Remember, a nonfiction author’s career is entirely built on platform, not words.)
MAKING THE TIME
In practice, the ratios look like this: on the days published fiction authors can only write for 30 minutes, they need to find a mere 15 extra minutes to work on marketing. On the days they can write for three hours, then it’s 1.5 hours of marketing.
Now let’s say that they simply CANNOT find an extra 1.5 hours in their day! When this happens, they merely need to adjust their existing writing time and break it into parts. So, instead of writing for three hours, they’d write for two and market for one.
Simple as that.
BUT WHAT DO I DO?
After hearing the ratios, some writers will tell me that even if they make time for marketing, they end up staring at their computer screens at a loss for where to begin.
There are tons of books that are full of marketing ideas. Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz is one. I like to use mine, The Extroverted Writer, as another example. But for those of you who get overwhelmed by all of the options…or who just can’t figure out how to take an idea and run with it, here’s another tip:
THE FIVE-THING MARKETING RULE
Write down five things…five marketing ideas. They don’t have to be big or expensive or detailed. There just has to be five of them. Your list could look like:
1. Find three blogs that talk about a theme that shows up in my book (ex. Vikings, weight loss, love stories). Save the URLs for future marketing ideas (blog tours, guest posts, comments, etc.)
2. Tweet every day this week.
3. Set up a Goodreads account and/or author page.
4. Research to see what local reader groups are in my area.
5. Find recent Tweets that use #weightloss (or whatever hashtag would apply to your brand/book), and reply to or retweet three of them.
Give yourself a week to complete these steps. Then, write down five more.
This may seem small and inconsequential. You may be thinking:
So what if I’m commenting on two measly blogs! Who cares that I’m Tweeting! No one follows me anyway!
TRUST ME. Great things happen once you start to engage. Once you are consistent about marketing. Give it a try and you’ll realize that your five things take almost no time at all to complete. And soon, instead of doing five things a week, you’ll be doing five lists of five! And you will get more confident. You’ll see results. And more importantly, platform will start to become your friend.
***ENTER MY GIVEAWAY***
Amanda Luedeke is an agent with MacGregor Literary. Follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or on Facebook. Her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.