The Differences between Marketing and Promotion & Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone (This was first released in the RWA PROspects Newsletter as part of a larger joint article with Nikki Duncan.)
It’s never too early to begin marketing yourself and promoting your stories, but knowing how and where to begin can be tough. In this series of articles over the next few months, Misa and I will discuss the differences between marketing and promotion and share tips that we’ve learned along our paths to publication and things we’ve picked up since our first sales.
What’s the difference between marketing and promotion?
ND: Marketing is when you spread your name far and wide. Promotion is spreading the message of your product, your book, far and wide.
MR: Marketing and promotion work hand in hand. I see marketing as keeping me, the auhor, in the minds of readers. This is where branding comes into play and is a valuable tool. You can brand yourself, brand your book series, brand a character… and then use specific activities to promote that brand in every way possible. Building the brand–or marketing your name, your book, or your series–helps stimulate demand.
Marketing means committing to some sort of advertising (which can be free or paid) and publicity (meaning being mentioned in the press, having articles written, etc).
Promotion, on the other hand, focuses on one specific thing…like your first release. It focuses on immediate sales and means doing things to ensure that you’re continuing to give your readers what they want. How you market this first release, or a book in one series, will likely be very different from how you market book 2, or a book in another series. Some promotional tools that work within a solid marketing plan (and you should have a plan!) include bookmarks, postcards, book signings, speaking engagements, informative web sites and paid advertisements found in publications like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, etc. You have to be proactive in marketing yourself and promoting your book. Instead of bookmarks, I created recipe cards for Living the Vida Lola. This was a promotional tool. I then sent these recipe cards out to independent booksellers as part of my marketing plan. I also handed them out at book signings as a way to promote my presence at the bookstores.
To successfully market, you have to first identify your potential audience, and how to reach them. You then go back to promotion by using the ‘brand’ you already have in place (continued advertising, promotions, public relations, etc) to reach that audience.
I’m not outgoing. What can I do that will fit within my comfort zone?
ND: Judi McCoy said in a workshop recently, “You’re a writer. You aren’t allowed to be introverted.” Marketing and promotion may be uncomfortable for you, but at some point if you hope to be a huge success you have to step outside of your comfort zone. You have to promo your books and talk to people. The internet can lessen the burden for you. People always think that I’m an extroverted person rather than introverted. “It’s easy for you to join a group and get to know people,” or “You leave a crowd feeling energized whereas an introverted person is exhausted afterwards,” they say to me. Based on my natural tendencies, both statements about me are false. You’ve heard the phrase “Fake it till you make it.” That’s what you have to do.
It’s my choice to succeed as a writer. To do that, I have to step out of my comfort zone, because no one is responsible for my success except me. In crowds of people I don’t know, that means putting on a brave face. It means telling myself every day that I am not afraid of rejection and that I can handle it if someone doesn’t want to be my friend, agent, or editor. Some groups are easier for me to meld into than others, but if I don’t put the effort forth to let people get to know me then it’s my fault. It’s exhausting and draining and I crash into bed at night like a brainwashed zombie (is that an oxymoron), but with the crash is a satisfaction that I’ve done what I can for the day to ensure my success.
MR: There are things you can do to look confident, even if you aren’t feeling confident. If you’re at a book signing, for example, try to stand. Don’t sit behind a table! Have something to hand out (like the recipe cards I mentioned above). If you’re handing something to someone, chances are they’ll take it. They may not buy your book, but they’re walking away with something concrete, something that has your name on it, your book title/cover, and it will act as a continual form of marketing.
With e-publishing, book signings don’t happen, so you’re off the hook! However, like Nikki said, creating an online presence is so important no matter what path you take to publishing. Maintain a professional attitude, find your voice and use it, and market yourself! It’s not always easy, but it is part of the job. If you want to be successful, you have to devote a certain amount of time to the marketing of your books/brand. Eventually, it’ll become more comfortable.
ND: To piggy back on what Misa said about e-publishing and book signings, keep in mind that in many cases there will not be book signings as an e-published author. However, there are e-publishers that release books in print as well as electronically, so you may still have the option of book signings if they’re important to you. Regardless of the publishing medium, if you’re nervous about a book signing, invite your friends and family to help create buzz during the event to people in and out of the store. Ask the CRM to make announcements throughout the event to encourage people to come see you. One author I know sends out eVites to everyone she knows when she has a book signing. Another holds only one book signing after each release and invites everyone she knows to that signing. Both authors have huge turn outs. The people they know help put them at ease and draw in new readers by watching for people who are looking on to see what’s happening. Caveat: It is important to not use these people as a crutch to keep you from talking to new people. Stay aware for people looking curious. Say hi, offer candy or a bookmark or something. You’ll be amazed how many people will stop and chat with you, and even buy your book.
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