Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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May 12, 2014

5 Tips for Effective Author Marketing: Small is the New Big

By Lynda Bouchard

Lynda Bouchard, Spanx, Writers In The Storm

What can an author learn from a pair of Spanx? A lot.

I was in a mall last week with my aunt and, as we walked through the pantyhose department, I noticed that one brand stood out. Spanx.

How Spanx got noticed and the unique marketing of this product is a brilliant lesson for all authors. Small is the new big.

1. Fill a void.

As an entrepreneur you want to stand out from everyone else who has a book. Spanx was CREATED to fill a void. Ask yourself what VOID your book can fill – where can it be presented, signed or stocked where it will be noticed.

2. Packaging matters.

People DO judge a book by its cover. Spanx created a recognizable brand image that stands out. Simple and red. Keep it simple – it will be read.

3. Small is the new big.

Spanx has become an internationally known product without ever spending a dime on advertising! They did it by reaching their small core group of friends, family & people they worked with and the word spread like wildfire from there. You MUST have a great product (book) for this to happen. Who is your core audience? Get in front of people who know you.

4. In this world of technology, social media and too many choices there is a fragmented audience. In an attempt to reach EVERYONE – you end up reaching NO ONE.

Think smaller. Think locally. It’s like dropping a pebble into a pond. When you reach the group that cares about you and your message, they will spread the word for you. The buzz will build. You will leverage each interview, media hit & book event to your advantage. Author Hugh Howey is the perfect example of this.

5. Never stop evolving.

Once your book is published consider spin-off items and events that tie in with your book’s title or characters. Your book is your calling card. Think outside the book! Give stuff away with your book at signings. Or online. Give your readers a reason to follow you. Create an online newsletter.

Spanx is an example of never resting on their laurels. They are still creating new lines and new customers. They do it by thinking creatively.

Go ahead, stretch your imagination.

(**Spanx, for you guys out there, is an undergarment that makes women look like Twiggy only shapelier. Great news, they have a men’s line now – check it out, dude!)

What questions do you have for Lynda? Do you worry about author marketing? What marketing efforts worked well for you? What publicity efforts felt like wasted time and energy?

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Lynda

LyndaBouchardLynda Bouchard is Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Booking Authors Ink, a boutique public relations firm dedicated to authors.

She writes the Literary Latte Blog and has represented a range of authors from David Baldacci and Dorothea Benton Frank to Harvey Mackay and Ken Burger.

For more information, go to www.bookingauthorsink.com.

Spanx photo credit: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester} via photopin cc

18 comments on “5 Tips for Effective Author Marketing: Small is the New Big”

  1. Lynda, love this post! This is what has always made sense to me, even when everyone was telling you that you HAD to spam - er - market on Social Media. Have you ever bought a book on a Twitter recommendation? I did, exactly once. Brilliant premise, but the book was unreadable, it was so newbie author. Learned my lesson. And I'll bet almost every reader on Twitter has done the same - and has learned.

    Therefore, you need a tribe. You know, people who you've gotten to know through social media (You know the 'S' in SM doesn't stand for spam, right?), who love what you do - and who will love to read a book about it. Those people.

    I'm proof. The more books out, the more I'm gaining traction. I've learned there ARE no shortcuts, no matter what anyone says. Thanks for the insightful post!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Marsha.
      There is no hard & fast rule for SM.
      I use Social media as a RESOURCE for info - and don't find it useful in translating it into sales. Unless it is to the people you already know.

      Once you've written your book the easy part is over! Now you become a marketer. Even best selling novelists with big publishing houses do most of their own publicity ( or hire it out).

      Keep it fun- keep it going!

    2. Laura,

      You have the right instincts! Authors really never stops promoting
      their books. Playing it safe is the riskiest thing you can do.

      Keep the momentum rolling.......


  2. Lynda, your number 4 point is interesting, and I'd like you to clarify a bit. Are you suggesting that all the Tweets/Retweets we're doing with people we don't know but have 69 K followers is not a good use of our time? I don't have near as many followers as many of you (just over 500, and that number grew a lot in the last weeks with a concerted effort to Tweet & Retweet others. Great for the old ego when someone like that RTs one of your tweets, but is that helping book sales? My publisher has been carrying on a lengthy discussion with our authors about marketing ideas. I'll be sharing this info. Thanks, Lynda, and WITS for another great post.

  3. It's actually very encouraging to know that you can make big gains by starting small. @marsharwest: I joined twitter a few months ago and I've been asking myself the same questions. I don't follow even 200 people, but my twitter feed is always so crammed with book suggestions and promotions that I hardly pay attention to any of them. In that case, is it really worth those authors' time? I heard that email converts a lot better in sales than social media, so newsletters are an important part of an author's marketing strategy. Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how to use twitter more efficiently.

    1. Dee,

      Thank you for your comments. Regarding TWITTER --- think of it
      as the present day town cryer - shouting at people as they pass by -
      reaching few if any. There is no efficiency or control.

      Social media doesn't go deep. Traditional media gives you that opportunity
      and is targeted.

      Use social media as a 'attention grabber' or headline. And traditional
      media to say more.


  4. I love this post, Lynda. The idea of ripples spreading outward teaches us once again that patience is key to building a writing career. Dang it. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jenny. Writing is such a heroic act. It takes courage to face the empty page! I hope this post encourages those who read it. Build on every media hit or signing event and leverage your success for bigger interviews/events.

      It just takes a shift in thought. Value your book, have a goal, keep it in front of the people who WANT to read it......but most of all, make it fun for yourself!

  5. Love the advice you've given here. Especially to start with an audience that is interested, because it's true, when you like/love something, you spread the word naturally. I know marketing a book can feel weird to authors, but when it happens naturally like this, there is nothing to feel weird about. Gaining an audience in an organic way, with a good book, is something to feel good about. Thank you for making this point Lynda.

    1. You are welcome, Emerald. Writing is such a solitary venture and you are right that most writers are not naturally
      marketers. However, one can learn!
      And even have fun at it.

      Like dropping a pebble into a pond- start with your immediate circle of influence ( people you know) and build from there.

      Remember, it's a marathon - not a sprint. Enjoy the journey!

  6. The worst part about spamming is that everyone hates you, yet new (or not-so-new) writers continue to do it. I've cut back on a lot of my old approaches because they attracted too much spam, and I hope you're right that thinking small will work better.

  7. The bit that resonated most with me: "Once your book is published consider spin-off items and events that tie in with your book’s title or characters." I'm not looking forward to doing giveaways, but I AM looking forward to doing the "extras". And while I know that "extras" can be part of the giveaways, making them less painful, I also know that it can appeal to readers like me who visit an author site to get MORE about the book for the tie-ins and extras - not just the freebie items.

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