One of the most frustrating parts of being an emerging author is learning how to market. Even more frustrating is learning how to do so without the funds needed to execute a business or marketing plan. Many authors put their own money into creating promotion campaigns and procuring the items needed to conduct a marketing blitz. Advertising, merchandising and promotions are categories which require money and, in many cases, the author simply doesn’t have the funds.
So what is a writer to do?
Melissa Miller, CEO and Founder of Solstice Publishing, has seen many authors succeed on a super-tight budget. She pointed out many things which emerging authors can do to get their name out there, and it all comes down to one word: branding.
“The main thing is branding your name,” says Miller. “I would focus your blog a lot on branding your name as an author. A lot of people don’t really understand that.”
One of the core issues, Miller notes, is that many authors underestimate the power of social media. Websites like Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Tumblr all have specific niches they orient towards. Twitter is a particular favorite of Miller’s, primarily because its format allows readers to interact with authors in a way which is not offered by many other sites. To her, this is essential for budding authors who have little or no money to spend on their marketing.
“People want to interact with authors,” she noted, adding that with the economy still being in a bit of a slump, many people are doing everything they can to stretch their entertainment dollar. To Miller, a budget-priced book from an author who is happy to talk to readers about the work, to allow readers to understand what the author is thinking, is worth way more than a budget-busting bestseller from a novelist who has no time to interact with the people who help he and she bring home the literary bacon.
In an era of fiscal austerity for many people, social media offers the best return on investment, especially if the only investment one can afford is time and ingenuity. Some authors have taken to building their brand not just as a writer, but as bloggers and advocates of various causes. The goal, according to Miller, is to engage readers as as someone who customers can relate to, and who is easy to approach. Many emerging authors have taken to understanding this, and some of the world’s most successful authors offers readers an open platform to directly contact them for any questions or comments.
Most important, however, is that authors understand that much of the promotional resources available are free or low cost. Many website platforms offer free and low cost options for those looking to promote their books. Unfortunately, many writers get taken advantage of by companies and individuals peddling services which can easily be done using automated systems built into free web services. One of the most important things to bear in mind, however, is that building a brand is as important, perhaps more so, than offering up a bunch of freebies or gimmicks. An author’s brand is their image, and that image can mean the difference between readers buying because they find an author fun and engaging, or taking a pass because that same author is regarded as unapproachable, grumpy, arrogant jerk.