Marketing Tip for a Self-Published Writer

Want an easy tip on how to draw media attention?

I was once told the easiest way to attract media attention is to do something outrageously wrong, and get caught at it. Since most of us would rather not suffer that particular indignity, what are other options?

One is to possess information, or have a story that is newsworthy. The news industry feeds on the first three letters of news, something that is new. But, they also need to think it is interesting. Unfortunately for those of us self-described Indie Publishers the release of our latest book does not make that list, unless I change my name to something like Stephen King.

If you are anything like me, writing the book seemed like the sweaty, hard part. That was the part driven by a story, by characters. That was the part of hopeful starts, pitfalls, the insecurity of story lines that seemed to dwindle to nothing, and then feeling the surge to the finish line.

If that was the sweaty, hard part, it was nothing compared to the scary monster at the end. If you are anything like me, you know the terror of waiting for the opinion of a reader. You also have a drawer full of rejection slips from agents and publishers, some nicely worded rejections, but rejection just the same. What to do?

For many of us, self-publishing makes an attractive alternative. There are some good companies with a range of services from editing, through to the finished product and beyond. There are also many predatory companies just waiting to promise you the world if you will only spend your money with them. (As an aside, I have learned to filter any companies I am interested it through scam research.)

If you chose to self-publish, to become an Indie Publisher, you will face the reality of marketing. I use a simple phrase to guide my marketing efforts.

Who will want to buy my book, why, and where will they hear about it?

Today’s tip explores going after earned media. How to we generate publicity by promoting our books with promotional efforts. If we have the money it’s easy to pay for advertising, to create buzz. Earning media attention means “boots on the ground” efforts, how to get the ear of the media. How about letters to the editor? Many newspapers also provide space for guest editorials. How do we generate buzz through grassroots actions?

But the next, best step is to recruit others to do the work for you. I had a reader of my first book ask me if it would be alright if he lobbied a local book store to carry my book. What do you think my answer was? I could make the rounds of local book stores, pleading my case, but it would be much more powerful coming from a reader. By the way, that reader wasn’t part of my friends and family circle, even better.

Thanks to cable television, local community television channels are often good places to get face time talking about writing, and to slip in a mention of your latest book. There may be more potential to reach a reader by appearing on your local cable channel that there is being squeezed into a newscast. On local cable you will have time to talk about yourself and your writing. On the six o:clock news you can be quickly replaced by a breaking news story.

Radio stations often do community news interviews. Try making a phone call to local stations, asking for the community affairs person. Often it will be someone with many other duties and they just might be eager to have a fresh voice. Granted you interview might be at 5 am on a Sunday, but you will be surprised how many people are listening. One advantage is you often do interviews like that by telephone, the listeners unaware that you might be sipping coffee and still be in your pajamas.

Earned media (sometimes called free media) is not the same as social media. We can’t ignore the internet reach through websites, blogs, twitter and the like. That is the topic for another tip. Earned media may be the publicity we attract with editorial influence, with the media comprising such outlets as newspaper, television, radio and Internet news outlets, and may include a variety of formats, such as news articles or shows, writing letters to the editor and guest editorials.

Is it hard? You bet. But if the sweaty, hard part of writing the book was worth the effort, so is the marketing. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t without a lot of hard work.

Daniel Goodall in his blog says, “Some people think that Earning Media is about getting free space when budgets are tight. In my experience, Earning Media is a not necessarily a cheap option, and is certainly more time-consuming than buying media with big networks. More importantly, Earning Media is about engaging with consumers on their terms and gaining trust based on genuine understanding. Consumers trust peer recommendations more than advertising. As long as brands don’t abuse this situation, then this leads to better quality, more authentic and more relevant marketing.”

You need to think of marketing your book as a collection of strategies. I use the image of a quiver, holding different arrows, each for a particular target. Earned media attention is just one of many.

By Chuck Waldron.

Chuck’s extensive experience working in the non-profit sector, where money for paid advertising was mostly non-existent, taught a valuable lesson. Experience gained learning the value of earned media during those times now helps him in marketing as an indie publisher. “Retirement seems to have the same non-profit budget limitations,” he admits with a laugh.

I am a proud indie publisher with two self-published novels. After completing my first novel, “Tears in the Dust,” I immediately began writing “Remington & the Mysterious Fedora.” Now “Served Cold” is in the capable hands of my editor and will be available early 2011. The years of writing short stories, attending writing workshops, and participating in local writing groups have all gone into the challenge of writing novels. Writing those stories and novels eventually gained momentum.

Author: Chuck Waldron
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