Greetings, fellow scribes! Kathi Macias here, with a little different twist for our marketing blog today—some very practical input from a lady I consider an “Internet publishing and blogging guru.” This prize-winning author has successfully published blogs, articles, and books online and has been successful at this venture simply because she knows the in’s and out’s of online marketing. So Dee White, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, how you got into this sort of writing/publishing/marketing, and what tips you could offer others considering the same publishing option? (You can find Dee at www.deeswhite.com.)
Hi, Kathi (and fellow scribes),
A little bit about me... hmmm. Well, I’m Dee, actually named Diane but pronounced Dee-Ann. I’m not sure if that pronunciation is because of my Island roots or because my parents just preferred that sound, but after a lifetime of correcting 90 percent of the world (or my portion of it), I settled on Dee, though I’m also okay with Diane since I discovered it means Divine.
And so, without going through a few chapters of the Bible and pointing out the importance of names, you now know my preference for being called Dee. You have also formed an opinion of me and have consciously or unconsciously decided whether or not you’re going to read the rest of this post, and if you do, whether or not you’re going to believe or trust my advice.
That’s what marketing is about—getting your message across in a few words in a memorable way, as frequently as possible, without annoying your audience and without compromising integrity. That being said, I am delighted to have the opportunity to share with you a bit of what I’ve learned about marketing; however, I will endeavor to keep it brief while giving some practical tips and resources geared to the self-published author but usable by all.
Looking back, my journey into the self-publishing/marketing business actually began in June of 2003, when I discovered lulu.com. Leery of something that was brand new and seemed too good to be true, I bookmarked the site and checked on its progress every six months or so. I Googled the site and checked out the whispers and warnings lists by writersweekly.com, another great find. There I found many how-to e-books written by Angela Hoy. Although I considered some of the ideas a bit outdated, the overall premise was doable, with a bit of tweaking for my purposes. Then I stumbled upon blogging in May 2005, and I took to it like the proverbial duck to water. I soon had three blogs up and running, catering to different audiences. When the 2006 Blooker Prize arose, I simply picked my most popular blog to turn into a blook, and…well, here I am. So, using what I call the three B’s, let’s get started.
Biz: Learn it
I believe it can only be beneficial to have an overview of how the publishing industry works and how the self-published author fits in ... or not.
Traditional publishers are usually not interested until the self-publisher has laid a trail of success (read: sales), and even then, if they do decide to pick up the self-published title, substantial changes are to be expected. Of course, established authors also resort to self-publishing, but then again, as mentioned above, they’ve already established themselves and have nothing new to prove. Therefore it behooves the person thinking of self-publishing to conduct some preliminary research before embarking on that road.
A great place to start would be to do a Google search for self-publishing groups. Two I recommend whole heartedly are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Their archives list names of must-read titles for the self-publisher, and the professionals on the list patiently answer questions from the newbie and pro alike.
Blog: Build it ... (and they will come—with a little help from the following):
- Start with a FREE blogging platform, such as blogger.com, Yahoo 360, myspace.com, or wordpress.com.
- Think of a unique name (this is sort of a necessity because there are already so many names out there).
- Post at least three times a week (frequency keeps you in front of your audience)
- Fresh content is key, and if it ties into your title’s contents without giving away the kitchen sink, even better. Consistent, quality content will help establish your presence as an expert. A word of caution: research your facts carefully because bloggers are no joke; they will call you on your errors, and hard-won credibility will be lost in a heartbeat. Just as you revere your copyright, so do other bloggers and Web sites. Ergo, give credit for all pictures and excerpts you use on your blog.
- Linkage is key. Link to other blogs or sites within your posts.
- Ensure that you fill in the description and keywords in the appropriate spots.
Buzz: Create it
- With your blog (which, with the aid of third parties like bloglet.com, feedblitz.com, feedburner.com, can become your html newsletter, so pictures in posts are a good thing).
- With a claim on your blog at technorati.com, a blog monitoring service/pinging service.
- With a separate html newsletter.
- With comments on blogs with similar topics. Who doesn’t like to receive mail? This not only makes someone’s day, but it also increases the visits to your blog and your link popularity.
- With contests.
- With membership in a blog directory/traffic exchange program of some sort (for e.g. BlogExplosion.com, BlogCatalog.com and/or BlogMad.com).
- With online chats.
- With press releases: utilize sites like prweb.com, clickpress.com, or pressmethod.com.
- With submissions to search engines like Google.com, Yahoo.com, etc.
Then there are the three P’s:
- Product: What purpose does it serve? Is it the best it can be? Is there integrity?
- Purpose: At the base of everything we do, God must get the glory.
- Packaging: Is it packaged for its target market? (And if the term target market sounds foreign to you, you’re in a bit a trouble.)
- Personality: I know, I said three P’s, but I threw this one in for free. Your personality counts. God created you to be who you are to serve your particular purpose. In being you, as you blog or communicate via your newsletter, you begin to build a relationship with your readers, and that’s what fuels the sales.
- Generates word-of-mouth sales
- Drives online and in-store interest through email
- Immediately creates and increases exposure worldwide
- Publicize directly to [targeted] consumers and book buyers interested in [your specific type of] literature
- No additional mail or telephone costs (saves money)
- Cost effective—no direct mail or additional advertising cost
- Saves time by reaching more people in less time
Finally, consider this biblical principle: It is better to give than to receive because there will be a whole lot of giving before you begin receiving at least 500 books’ worth in return. Giving, of course, means sending free copies to proofreaders, reviewers, media, book clubs, organizations, churches and/or bookstores (if you’re going that route).*
*Benefits list adapted from blackbookpromo.com.