Two Ways to Transform Your Book Marketing

Welcome to the 100th post on the Warrior Writers blog! For over a year and a half, I have devoted this blog to the sole mission of making all of you amazingly successful authors. Monday is craft, but today is WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to helping you guys rock it hard with social media and based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Today we are going to discuss marketing, because there is a lot of confusion going on out there. In fairness, writers are writers and most of us don’t work on Madison Avenue by day so there is a certain degree of confusion to be expected.

Today we are going to discuss two HUGE ways to totally transform your marketing impact. So let’s get started.

1. Understand the difference between traditional and social marketing.

In traditional marketing, a brand was passively received, thus the brand had to be controlled and one-dimensional to keep from confusing the masses receiving the image plastered on billboards, placards, magazines and broadcast on radios and TV. A brand had to be static and fixed because any deviation could confuse the consumer and dilute the message.

Just Do It.

Nowadays, branding is highly organic and always in flux, namely because we are in the Information Age. We are constantly being fed real-time images and impressions via YouTube, Twitter, FB, blogs. Not only are we being fed these impressions, but then we often take them in, filter them then recycle/repackage them when we resend them out to our community in the form of our opinions. And this is why our marketing approach must be fluid and dynamic. We want people to take in our message, like it and deliver it to their communities in a positive way.

To accomplish this, our approach must be modified.

Marketing is now in the hands of the audience. Thus, now it becomes critical what the audience thinks of us, because that will affect how they handle our message.

For instance, 20 years ago, it was far less important whether an author was a nice person or not. Who cared? Could she write? An author could have been the biggest jerk on the planet and it didn’t matter so long as she didn’t do anything that made national headlines. She could hand in her books, and then the marketing/PR people controlled what impression went out to the masses, if any. Writers could live quiet lives of obscurity, and it really didn’t affect their book sales.

Now? What a writer’s fans think of her as a person influences her marketing. She needs to get in the mix. The more an author interacts with her fan base in a positive way, the more likely those fans will pass on her messages in a positive light. By continual personal and positive interaction, an author can influence groups of people to extend her marketing influence. How? She has recruited her fans and followers to be part of her team. Book sales and promotion have now become a collective endeavor.

With the shift into the Information Age, authors are no longer permitted the luxury of obscurity. Long absences between books might have been standard before the 21st century, but now the modern fan expects more interaction. We consumers are plugged in and want to hear from you. If we don’t, we will gravitate to an author who is connecting with us.

As you can see social marketing is very different from traditional marketing and yet there are many writers who treat social marketing like traditional marketing. The down side of that is this writer will find himself perceived as little better than spam. I have heard many book fans complain about Goodreads. They want to be on there for the common social experience with booklovers…if only they could escape the self-published or newly published authors who blitz them non-stop with self-promotion. We are wise to appreciate that people are gravitating to social media by the millions in part to escape the constant barrage of traditional marketing.

So how can you tell if you are employing traditional marketing tactics?

If you are an unpublished or even new author, avoid:

  • Auto-tweets that post about you, you, you. Auto-tweets are just a bad idea. They can create a lot of resentment (um, cuz it’s basically cheating and being lazy) and it can get you banned from Twitter and your account deleted.
  • Auto-DMs. Just interact. Be genuine. Auto-DMs are annoying and viewed as basically spam. I have people DM me and in the DM apologize for the auto-DM, which shows me they know on some level they are making a social media faux pas.
  • Form-letters of any kind on Facebook. We really don’t need a 1,000 word form-letter with all the links to everything you have ever written and free downloads of your e-book. Seriously.

One day we might be able to rely on some of these time-saving features, but we are going to have to do some work first. Just like Brittany Spears and Angelina Jolie don’t need reservations…ever. They can even boot people from their tables. Us mere mortals? We’d get beaten up and banned from the restaurant.

Traditional marketing is dangerous for writers to use until they are well-known authors.  Why? Well, that leads in to my next point.

2. Understand the difference between market norms and social norms.

Why can Nora Roberts send out a form-letter when we can’t? It has to do with market norms and social norms.

Market norms are the rules and social guidelines dictated by the world of business.

Social norms, by contrast, are the rules and social guidelines dictated by relationships.

For instance, if a moving company moves your stuff, they have a list of rates. They can charge by the item or even charge by the hour and they even take major credit cards for you convenience.

You don’t get offended.

But what if your brother gave you the same list? You’d be ticked. And if he told you he’d even accept major credit cards, you’d probably threaten him with bodily harm.

Wives don’t charge for washing the laundry and husbands generally don’t charge for mowing the lawn. Social norms.

There are companies who like to dance this edge between social norms and market norms. Like a great neighbor, State Farm is there. Companies, in an effort to seem more personable and concerned about customers as individuals often will tug on the ol’ social norms strings. But these companies know that while there can be a distinct advantage to being a customer’s friend, there can be a dark side, too. Screw up once, and the anger will be personal. Some businesses are finding themselves in hot water over this. You can’t just dance on the side of the fence that is convenient for the moment.

For instance, I went to a doctor’s office that openly displayed how they charged $40 for being late to an appointment. But when they left me sitting for almost three hours I was supposed to be understanding of a very overworked doctor. Uh, no. Can’t call market norms and charge me $40 for being late, but then expect me to extend the courtesy of social norms when you are the one in need of grace.

Back to writers. I have gotten many form-letters from writers hawking their book on Facebook (market norms) but then wanting me to share their link with all my friends (social norms). Uh…no. You can’t reap the benefit of social marketing by sending form-letters. Bad juju.

Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Stephenie Meyers and all the other big names can get away with sending form-letters and impersonal ads and links because they are equated to a business in our minds. I don’t think many of us are expecting a personal note from Lee Child. We know these writers are mega-huge and thus we look at the form-letters much the same way as the form-letters we get from our insurance company. We don’t attach a social norm value to it. So they are like “friending” Starbucks on Facebook.

Everyone else? Sorry. We have to make an effort and socialize and get involved. We can’t send form-letters and auto-DMs and expect people to react favorably. If Nora Roberts sends out a link for a free download of her stuff, there is a market value attached to her content. Followers actually feel as if they are being given something of value, because they are. A free download for an unpubbed unknown author? Um. Spam. Sorry. This is where the social component becomes vital. Our work may not yet have a market value, so we have to work extra hard to make sure it at least has social value…which after time and a lot of hard work and peer approval will eventually earn a market value.

So my advice. Until we are J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown, we have to get in and socialize. But, hey, that’s a lot of fun and some of the best people I know I know via social media. Come be my friend and I’ll introduce you ;).

Make sure you keep scrolling down for This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness, which is a collection of some of the best industry blogs out there. I am here to save you time by guiding you to the best of the best.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

But first, the shameless self-promo. We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to be fun and effective. I am here to change your habits, not your personality. My method will help you grow your network in a way that will translate into sales. And the coolest part? My approach leaves time to write more books. Build a platform guaranteed to impress an agent. How do I know this? My book is recommended by agents.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

My favorite blogs to follow:

Jody Hedlund can always be counted on for some of the best writing advice around. She also gives great tips about social media marketing. Hey, sounds like someone you might already know :D.

Make a mentor out of a NY Times Best-Selling Author. Hey, I did, why not? Bob Mayer’s Write It Forward is chock full of priceless industry advice.

New blogger Terrell Mims is an amazing writing teacher. I know this because he is my right-hand man and helps me run my Warrior Writer Boot Camp. Subscribe today and shorten your learning curve by YEARS.

Best New Find? Jami Gold is one of my Tweeple, but she rocks it hard with her craft blog, so check it out and be amazed.

Writers tend to take life waaaay too seriously. Hey, this is a tough job that can be even tougher on the morale. This is why you need steady doses of Blogging Goddess Tawna Fenske mixed with some spicy apocalyptic nose-thumbing at the establishment using the dark humor of a gun-owning belly dancing author. Yeah, that was a mouthful, but Author Piper Bayard is irreverently funny.


12 Cool Secrets to Writing Dialogue

Tips on Agents & Querying from NYT Best-Selling Author Allison Brennan



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  1. I still see people resisting social media, even though it’s a perfect fit for writers. You don’t even have to leave home and actually meet people.
    When an author sends a submission. The first thing I do when an author submits to Who Dares Wins Publishing is google their name. If they don’t already have at least the rudiments of a social media platform, there’s not much we can do for them.
    As noted in the latest Write It Forward blog posts: resistance is futile. And self-defeating.

  2. Aww, thanks for the shout out, Kristen! And right back to you, as you’ve given me so many great ideas for my blog posts.

    This is a great post! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the line drawn between market norms and social norms before and how that affects marketing. It makes complete sense to me though. Thanks!

  3. Great examples to explain difference between market and social norms.I always learn from you. Thanks Kristen.

  4. Fabulous points all around! Authors should seriously consider having these tips tattooed on their arms. I agree 100% that so much of our marketing as authors (especially before our books hit shelves) is about what people think of us personally.

    And hopefully they don’t think we’re jerks 🙂

    Thanks for the Mash Up mention, by the way!


  5. Thanks for the great info, Kristen. So many times I talk with unpublished authors who say they are too busy to worry about social media until they are published. I tell them, “According to social media marketing maven, Kristen Lamb . . . ” and I point them to your book. I’ve made a couple of converts that way. Thanks so much, too, for the mention. You rock!

  6. I began learning my lesson way before back when I started writing. I still fumble but I’m getting better at it.

  7. This is terrific! I’m so glad we connected on Twitter. Your blog comes at a perfect time for me. Thank you so much for all of this great information!

    1. So happy I can help. Monday is tips for improving in the craft. I’ve been an editor for close to ten years. Wednesday is for social media. I might have already told you this, LOL. Glad to make you a peep! 😀

  8. This was really helpful. Thanks so much for breaking it down. Great example with the pizza. 🙂

  1. […] truthfully, can do more harm than good. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading last week’s blog for a clear explanation of the key difference between traditional marketing (market norms) and […]

  2. […] shameless self-promo. If you love this blog and just want MORE? My book, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  is available in all formats. Buy one today and take charge of your writing career! My book is […]

  3. […] Some solid tips on the difference between traditional and social marketing so that your efforts to promote aren’t received the wrong way: […]

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