Marketing Defined by the Message, Not the Medium

Writers complain these days about having to market their own books. Many are frustrated over the lack of sales generated by their social media activities. One author says he’s given up on Twitter, which confirms my long-held theory that no one reads other people’s tweets. (I rarely do, but since I am not counting on social media to sell my books, however, I’m going to stick with it for a while longer.) So an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (11/30/11) confirms my belief that the best kind of marketing is defined not by the medium, but by the message.

In Rethinking the Familiar Book Tour, Joanne Kaufman reports that book stores want authors to do more than just read from their books. The presentations that get the highest marks from their audiences are interactive, where the author listens and answers questions rather than solely reads from h/h book.

That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who understands that the cultural revolution stimulated by the Web which has impacted every phase of life. The changes we’ve seen in the technology of communication are not just about making it easy to publish. Rather they make it possible to communicate in ways you could not in the past.

Think about your local news organization. In the past there was the letter to the editor. Today the public can comment on stories on their website, communicate directly with reporters, and even submit their own stories and photos or video.

Authors then need to find ways to interact with their audiences. If you have a chance to speak at a bookstore, at a Rotary club luncheon, to a school class, etc., plan a talk that includes plenty of opportunity for the audience to be part of the program.

I always start any presentation with a question. When invited to talk to a group about writing, I’ll ask how many people have an e-reader. Then I’ll talk about how technology is changing the world of publishing and how that affects people who read as well as write. Later on I’ll talk about me and read a few passages.

Not surprisingly, Kaufman reports that authors who communicate with and not just at their audiences end up selling more books.

Learning to be a good presenter is not difficult, but it takes practice and preparation. Start small. Find a book club or other small group and don’t go expecting to sell a lot books. That’s a bonus if it occurs. Your goal is to engage your audience.

If you are successful and you’ll know if you are by people’s reactions, find out where other speaking opportunities are in your community. You’ll find that there are more than you expect.

And when you approach your local bookstore, be sure to tell them that you’re prepared to do more than read from your book. It may help you get the gig.

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