Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I am my own Chief Marketing Officer

In the old world…Authors created the product and relied on their publishing company to market it. But that world is dead.
–Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, recently posted to his blog: Four Reasons Why You Must Take Responsibility for Your Own Marketing. The post has generated over 200 comments, including mine.

I want everyone to know that I embrace the concept that an author must participate, even lead, in their own marketing effort. That doesn’t mean I like it, or want to do it. But do it I will.

It’s difficult to lose the training of my upbringing. We were taught that blowing your own horn was a bad thing. “Don’t brag” was one way it was put. “He that exalts himself will be humbled” was how a Higher Power put it, and one of the few biblical things repeated in the family. Heck, in Miss Dudley’s class in 4th grade I was nominated for room president. I voted against myself, and Susan Ehrens won by one vote. Granted, 4th grade class president is not a position of immense importance, but hopefully you get the idea.

So how’s a body trained to be humble, to stay in the background, to let others call attention to you ever going to break through the marketing wall? Darned if I know. They say to start a blog. I did that in December 2007, and have achieved 14 followers and an average of 400 non-unique page views per month. Those are pretty poor numbers. Obviously I’m doing something wrong there.

They say to join Facebook and other social media. So I joined Facebook, and have a little over 100 friends. I started a Facebook fan page earlier this month. At least, I guess that’s what I started. Actually my son created it for me. I still haven’t figured out the difference between a Facebook account and a Facebook fan page. I have 6 people who “liked” my page—does that mean 6 fans? And, there’s a button for me to like it. Is it against my training to like my own page? What will that look like to others who check to see who the 6 7 are who like my page?

They say join Twitter and gain a following. Haven’t done this yet. Twitter is blocked at the office (where I’m typing this). At home on week nights I have two hours of writing time, unless I totally ignore my wife and limit myself to less than 6 hours of sleep, in which case I can squeeze in four a week night. Saturdays require lots of home maintenance stuff and leaves little quality time of brain and body function for writing. Sundays might give me six hours, again with some loss of interaction with the wife. How in the world could I find time for meaningful Twitter work?

They say start a personal e-newsletter, describing your writing work and the items you are working on or have available. Give something away to everyone who subscribes to it. You get their e-mail address, send out a newsletter with some regularity, and hope some of them buy your new works when you announce them. See the time factor in the previous paragraph.

This probably sounds like a rant, and I suppose it is. How does a working, commuting author find time to both write and market? I haven’t found the balance yet. Maybe if I dug ditches all day I might find brainpower available in the evenings, but I work with my brain, and often those two hours are difficult to make productive.

What do you think? Any suggestions for how an author with a full-time job and home and family responsibilities can be his own Chief Marketing Officer?


Gary said...

I knew Sue Ehrens. Sue Ehrens was a classmate of mine. You are no Sue Ehrens.

Uh, sorry... I had a Dan Quayle/Lloyd Benson moment there.

David A. Todd said...

I notice you didn't say Sue Ehrens was a friend of yours.

I was pretty sure you would remember her. She and I went to Dutemple Elementary, but then she went to Park Zoo with you, then all three of us at CHSE and I think maybe URI. I never crossed paths with her, though, after 6th grade.

At least I didn't have a record to run on and defend when I ran for student senate at URI.