Marketing for Writers: How to Set Yourself Up for Literary Success

I know what you're thinking. Marketing, gross. For whatever reason, marketing has gotten a bad rap. When we think "marketing," we tend to imagine annoying commercials or Twitter messages saying, "thanks for following, buy my book!"

And you know what we really hate about this? It's impersonal. But good news for all of you, my friends! Marketing can be a personal, interactive experience that not only builds your tribe, but allows you to flex your creative muscles. See? Not so bad.


Now, let's break this down to smart, actionable marketing for writers:

 Develop Your Brand

Let me start by saying that I'm no expert. And also? I kind of hate that term with a burning passion. Essentially, it is all about figuring out who you are as a writer and what kind of readers you want to attract. I want my tribe to have fun. I want them to embrace positivity and color and extraordinary acts of awesomeness. If you'd like more concrete advice, read tips from PR expert Kayla Hollatz.

In order to develop your brand, you have to first develop yourself, your product and the world you're creating. Let's look at John Green for example. He writes books for teens; and therefore, appeals to a teenage audience. He's active on Tumblr and YouTube, and treats his readers like the intellectual, important people that they are. But most importantly? He's himself, through and through. 

Practice: What kind of writer do you want to be? How can you utilize your personality as a way to promote your brand?

Develop Your Product

For us writers, we need to be connecting our readers with our books right from the start. I started blogging about my book, These are the Moments, from the beginning, even posting scenes along the way. Once my book was published, I needed multiple avenues of drawing people to my books. I created a prequel for my novel (read about a prequel is important here) and published it for free on Amazon. In that prequel, I mentioned that if you sign up for my email list, you'll receive a free second book, Moments Like These. 

This is called a funnel, friends. Which, coincidentally, is another buzz word I hate.

But while writing is our primary product, it isn't the only one we have. Think of yourself as a small business. You sell books, but you also interact with customers and run the website and the social media. You are a master juggler. You are more than just one product.

Practice: Take some time to develop your social media. Make a list of your "products" and your goals. 

Try New Things. Fail. Try again.

When it comes to your own writing and social media presence, don't be afraid to try new things. However, be aware of your time and efforts. Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It states that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your efforts. Translation? Focus on what your readers respond to the most. Maybe it's Instagram. YouTube. Blogging. Then, see how that translates into sales and engagement.

Practice: Analyze your marketing plan. Where do you see the most engagement? How does this translate into sales?

Measure Your Success

There are hundreds of definitions for success. For me, success was writing a novel. Now, it's publishing that novel. In terms of monetary goals, I don't have a number, and I wouldn't want one. When thinking of success, ask yourself what is more important: sales or engagement? 

Engagement often leads to sales. However, the other is not always true. Personally, I would rather have a small, engaged audience than a large, incommunicative one. I've found that the more you give, encourage and speak honestly, the greater your chances of forming a tribe are.

Practice: Evaluate your idea of success. What will it take to get you there? What steps can you take today?

And of course, my posts would never be complete without...

Discussion Time: Where have you seen the most success in your marketing strategy? What annoys you the most about marketing: as a marketer and someone being marketed to?