3 S.R. Johannes: Marketing Monday - The Importance of Peeps

Monday, November 17, 2008

Marketing Monday - The Importance of Peeps

As I got to thinking about my marketing post, I admit I was a bit stumped today on what I could post about.

As you all know Marketing and PR is based on Networking. Yes you can have ads, yes you can have websites, and yes you can only do so many book tours or school visits.

I tell all my clients - it is about creating a buzz and name/brand recognition (whether it be your author brand or your book brand). In my humble opinion (after an MBA in Marketing from Auburn and over 15 years of experience doing marketing, pr, and communication for companies and non-profits of all sizes), the best way to do this is by networking. BY getting out there and meeting people whether it be on blogs, vlogs, podcasts, radio interviews, conferences, and yes book signings.

I've said 653 times (at least) if you are only doing school visits and/or bookstore signings, you are missing out. Maybe it does it for a few huge authors and maybe some get lucky. But it is not the way to go these days. You have to branch out and expand your reach.

Therefore, PR is the way to go. Marketing is paid for, choreographed, and organized. PR is word of mouth. Networking is good old fashion PR. And I'm sorry to say (b/c I risk writing myself out of a paycheck) PR is ALWAYS best coming from you - not your agent, not your editor and not a PR person (my hubby is kicking me right now!! Sorry honey!) Those people can help you brainstorm and come up with plans. Can even implement some for you (I redeemed myself honey! :) but they (we) only do so much. People like me are better for pr planning and marketing purposes to get your plans started, materials in order, help create a brand. Yes you need biz cards, yes you need a website, yes you need book signings. That's where I can help.

But most importantly, you need to get out there yourself and network. Create a buzz.

When people buy a brand, don't think for a minute, they are not also buying you. Think about it - if you love a book and hate the author. maybe you met her and she was rude. Would you buy her book again? This happened to me and I didn't - no matter how good the books are - they were ruined for me.

PR is making connections and utilizing your peeps!

1) Start out with your current peeps
Once writers get published, they CANNOT forget where they came from. I am not talking about friends and family either. I am talking critique groups, conference participants and organizers, and blogger buddies, neighborhood organizations, PTAs, charities, Playdates, Alumni etc. Sounds dumb but you already have some easy quick hits in utilizing your current connections. I see so many writers who get published that either don't think of their current connections as a market or audience OR worse, they walk away from them.

I will plug a couple key ones that should never be forgotten. The first sin of an author.
  • SCBWI -www.scbwi.org. For those of you who do not know about it - is an organization that helps authors writer for the children's market. I feel like alot of published writers that have always attended these conferences and utilized the knowledge and resources that comes from it, forget how much the group helped them by offering access to industry professionals, critiques, and the insight scoop on the publishing world. So if you are published and a member, stay active. Give back to those that helped you get a chance in this industry. Attend conferences, share your story, be a speaker, meet with unpublished authors. This is still marketing and pr. This is your network. This builds your word of mouth. I know authors get busy, but these conferences in your region are only twice a year. Give back as you have been given too.

  • Critique Groups - These are the people who helped you get to where you are - if you have a good one. If you get published, help them get published. Don't leave the group b/c you don't have time. This is still apart of your marketing, your networking.

2) Reconnecting with old peeps - Look to the past. Old friends, high school class, college classmates, sorority pledge class, old job mates. Go to Reunion.com or classmates.com. Your past connections (as long as you were nice to them - i do not recommend contacting those you snubbed, broke up with, or backstabbed :) love hearing stories of success. There are alumni newsletters, school reunions, and company events. So look back and recreate your close connections. (in fact, do that now, before you get published! You'll be one step ahead.

3) Make some new peeps. Here are a few great networking groups for Children's Book Writers when they become published (again, you can start these now! In my opinion, give now - receive later.)

  • MySpace.com
  • Facebook.com
  • Twitter.com
  • JacketFlap.com
  • Goodreads.com
  • Blog groups/Kitlitosphere
  • American Library Assoc/Yalsa - ala.org/yalsa
  • Booksense.com

4) Give back - If you get published, give back. Immediately, help another person in any way you can. It really bothers me when I run into published authors who hound me for marketing advice. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE helping other people sell their books. I do so please keep approaching me anytime. (Well not anytime but you know what i mean). It just irks me when authors run around asking "How can I sell....?" "How can I get..." "How can I..." How about giving. If everything you do is about you. I do not believe you will get far. Think about creating a 2-way street.

  • Give back to other struggling writers - not necessarily your agent or editors number, just give advice/hope/insight.
  • Give back to other published authors. Help them sell a book. Help them connect. Find ways to give.
  • Try partnering with a charity event or school to help them Do a signing, giving 10% of profits. You get a signing, they get money, you get exposure.

That's my advice for today.

Market my words!

So, today's challenge - reconnect with an old peep, contact a current peep, and make a new peep. Tell me your story!


Kim Baise said...

Thanks for the great words of wisdom! Now I'm going to forward this post to my sister. Our book is coming out this Spring and this is truly helpful!
Thank you.

Elton A.R. Alwine said...

This is actually great advice. I cannot tell you how many times I have emailed agents or authors and had zero replies.

This is something so simple to just take a minute to respond with a simple answer, but it just never seems to happen.

Charlaine Harris had a forum set up on her early site, and she answered as many questions as possible, including my own. She actually gave me great advice, and I will read everything she does (and mostly because I like her stuff). But that helped.

Corey Schwartz said...

Gosh, I wish I knew you in 2006 when my picture book came out!

I have not managed to get enough buzz for my book, but here are a couple of things I have tried for any upcoming authors looking for ideas (1) Asked a local children's performer to write a song to go with my book. (2) I did a benefit with my local MOMS Club. They held an event to raise money for a six year old with cancer and I offered to sell my PB and give ALL profits to their cause. I sold 25 books at this event which is more than at my last five library visits combined!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the giving back part. In trying to find the help I needed with critiquing, etc, I decided to set an example by giving the things I wanted to my writing friends. This cost me some time, but it's helped me to become a leader in my critique groups, which I'm hoping will ultimately help me in the promotion department. I think if you want to get something, you have to be willing to give it. And it never hurts to just be a nice person.

Anonymous said...

you will probably have say the "school visits/bookstores signing" thing 654 times because despite knowing better, I still go, "really?" I should know better! But still, there's something about having to promote yourself or your own work that reduces my IQ by about 50 points...

Carrie Harris said...

I think this is such a great point. I can always use a reminder that we're in a community here, not working on our own. It's easy to think of ourselves as an island since the actual work of writing is solitary for most people. But that's only half of the job, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I still find it ironic that as a shy, introverted, solitude-seeking writer, I have to work so hard to connect and reach out. Nooooo, why can't i stay in my little cave?