Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tame the Self Marketing Beast: Start With the Basics

Tame the Self Marketing Beast: Start With the Basics
By Don Lafferty

Last month, Angela Wilson [http://www.askangelawilson.com/] reminded us why marketing your work and yourself is an essential plank in every writer’s platform, and how a bite-sized commitment to personal branding and self-marketing can grow comfortably into a more ambitious effort as you get a feel for the activities that produce results.

Self marketing is a broad term comprised of lots of different types of activities, all designed to accomplish one of three things: to connect you with readers who will buy your work, colleagues with whom you can collaborate and network, and media types whose only professional purpose is to talk about books and people like you.

But before becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of outlets available to accomplish these things, know this—nobody covers all the bases all the time, so start off by making sure your strategy is built on a solid foundation, and then grow your effort from there.

Get a real business card [http://jruckman.com/], not something you cooked up on your home printer. There are so many inexpensive options available, that not having a business card can be construed as unprofessional by some editors and agents. Stick with the standard size and spend a little extra money on chunky, robust stock.

When someone asks you about your work, be prepared to blow them away by having a concise, high impact, impeccably well-rehearsed description of your book or yet-to-be-published manuscript. If you’re fortunate enough to have the ear of an editor at a cocktail party or in an airplane, it would be tragic to misrepresent all your hard work simply because you haven’t taken the time to distill the synopsis down to a thirty second spot [http://www.elevatorpitchessentials.com/essays/ElevatorPitch.html]. This isn’t an option; it’s part of the process.

Create a press kit [http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/presskit.shtml], and in addition to having a digital copy ready to email, keep a hard copy close at hand, especially if you engage in live networking. If you want to grab the imagination of the media, you’ve got to deliver them the goods in the format they’re accustomed to. Keep it as brief as possible while cramming enough detail and nuance in there to make you and your work a compelling story.

The same goes for press releases. If you don’t know how to write a PR, go to one of the many online resources [http://www.lunareclipse.net/pressrelease.htm] available. Once you have a well crafted PR, it’s easy to push it out to all manner of media outlets via email and fax.

An author’s presence on the Interwebs is non-negotiable in today’s culture of media sharing, web-only content, and easy access to communities of common interest. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest, lowest cost places to start.

Create a Wordpress blog free of charge by visiting www.wordpress.com and following the easy setup instructions. In minutes, you’ll be up and running. It’s easy to customize your blog’s look to your personal taste, and with an inexpensive reference book like Wordpress for Dummies, you can take your blog to the next level. Whether you write nonfiction, novels, poetry or comics, a blog can be one of the most straightforward ways to give your work a presence for the entire world to see. I recommend Wordpress because the price is right, it’s simple to customize and extremely easy for visitors to leave comments.

Your blog will be Home Base [http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/02/05/what-is-a-blog/] for all of your self-marketing activities going forward, so be sure the appearance and content portray the image you’re shooting for. Regular blogging may be more than you’re able to commit to, so just be sure the “About” page is tight, and use that URL as your home page on all correspondence and business cards.

Set up a Facebook page, MySpace page and Twitter account but remember—these are nothing more than digital outposts [http://www.chrisbrogan.com:80/using-outposts-in-your-media-strategy/] designed to bring visitors back to your blog where you’ll have the opportunity to dazzle them with your prosaic artistry—and sell them a book. That is what this is all about, right? So stop all the groaning and get it done. You don’t have to expend an enormous amount of energy in these places, but it’s impossible to draw from these communities if you’re not there.

Create a “signature” for all your correspondence that includes the URLs of your blog’s “About” page, your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as well as the title of your book and links to any other points of contact you might have out there, and then use it religiously.

Once you have these basic building blocks in place, you’ll be positioned to craft more elaborate and effective self-marketing strategies as time and budget permit.

Don Lafferty is a sales executive, writer and self-marketing consultant. One of his jobs is being the Social Media Director for the Wild River Review, and he can sometimes be caught “rambling,” as he puts it, in WWR or at his blog, Can Digital Communities Help You Sell More Stuff?


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