Marketing Advice for Authors

“There is no magic button to build your audience.”—Dan Blank

“So it all comes down to relationships. Do you have a relationship with those you’re selling to?”—Bob Lefsetz

Anyone who wants to reach an audience today needs to think about is what “being social” actually means.

Social media is not a tool nor is it a strategy. And using social media is also not a guaranteed path to success, especially for writers.

Social media is an expression of human culture and communication. For most of us, it’s another form of “talking amongst ourselves.” Being social is simply about being human. And trying to use social media as just another form of marketing is usually counterproductive, unless you think about marketing differently, by thinking first and foremost not about what you are trying to sell, but what your audience cares about.

People today want a deep connection; authentic relationships are more valuable, because so much of what passes for social connection today is, in fact, meaningless.

Think about “connecting” instead of “marketing”. Think of social media as another opportunity for sharing, for connecting, for building relationships with people. Writers might be creators sometimes, and other times might be consumers. Both roles are reflective of our urge to share, to communicate, to be with our fellow human beings. If you pay attention to who you are as a consumer, you will be a better provider of the content you create when you become a sharer.

So what are the principles of human interaction? Most of us probably know instinctively what works, whether we are ourselves introverts or extroverts, or somewhere in the middle (ambiverts?).

It helps to think about these principles before you try to participate in the online social graph:

Ask before you tell.

Listen to what others are saying and try to understand what they mean.

Pay attention to what others want and need.

Help, assist, give of your time, energy and heart.

Don’t think of the reward for social interaction, know that what you give will come back to you one way or another, at some time in the future.

(This is especially true, if what you provide is what people want or need. Try to provide value whenever you can – the brilliant Tim O’Reilly has said about modern business that in it, we must all “Create more value than you capture” – this is a great principle for anyone who participates in social media.)

How best to apply these concepts?

If you are a writer, you have a lot to give. And you begin with an innate advantage – you know how to express yourself in words. Writing is transformative. So much of social media is based on writing that you are ahead of the game from the outset. You can express your thoughts and ideas, you can provide information, and you can instruct.

Perhaps best to begin by reading. See what others in your network are saying or sharing, and then find your own way to engage in the social ongoing conversations that are happening all around you. Be yourself, or find the part of yourself that loves to share ideas and information. Have fun and make a difference. Remember the basic rules of karma.

If you do, good things will always happen.

“To sell is human.”—Daniel Pink