Disclosure: I work for a marketing firm. While I have no formal education in marketing or business and would never claim to be an “expert”, working in online marketing for two companies over the last four years has taught me a lot. This series will explore the marketing strategies I will use to promote my upcoming novel. Also, I know free stock photos are lame. I’ll get my own legit photo for this series at some point, I promise.
Telling people that I work in online marketing typically induces one of two reactions in people. Either, “holy crap, how could you work in such a scummy, manipulative industry,” or “wow, marketing my work is so intimidating, where do I begin?”
If your first impression leans towards the former, then this series might not be for you. However, if you are a writer trying to become a published author, then you need to learn at least a little about how to market and promote your book. Even if you are fortunate enough to attract an agency or publisher, they will expect you to do most of the promotional legwork for your novel.
You can certainly rely solely on word-of-mouth to disseminate your work, and more power to you. But if you’re looking to turn your writing habit into any form of supplemental income, then marketing your novel is a must. Now then…
Where to Begin with Marketing a Novel?
That’s a great question, and the answer really depends on your needs and means as a marketer. The important thing to remember is that using only one channel to promote your work will likely not be very successful. A solid marketing strategy includes several different types of marketing through several different channels, such as:
- press releases
- email newsletters to subscribers
- paid ads
- content marketing
- search engine optimization
- public videos
- social media posts
- social media direct messages
You will note that all of the above except one (events/conventions) are a form of digital or online marketing. As writers, it’s not likely that we will go door-to-door across our hometowns trying to sell copies of our books (although that’s not unheard of). Most of our promotion and selling will occur online. I will provide basic explanations of each of these forms of marketing as this series moves along, but let’s start at the first important distinction.
Direct versus Indirect Marketing
Despite the jargon, the weird brand names, and the vast library of articles, blogs and newsletters about it, online marketing really boils down to two main avenues: Direct Marketing and Indirect Marketing.
Traditional marketing principles will insist that “direct marketing is an advertising strategy that physically deals and communicates with the consumer” with marketing methods including “telemarketing, subscriptions and fliers.” (Reference.com)
With the advent of the Information Age, however, this definition has expanded and become much more fluid.
Direct Marketing is any form of communication in which you are addressing a specific person or group of people. It also implies that you are enticing these people to take a specific action. Sending an email newsletter to a small list of subscribers is direct marketing, because you know exactly who is receiving your communication.
The goal of direct marketing should be to encourage an ongoing dialogue with your most loyal customers or readers — the people who are most likely to actually pay for your work. The main benefit of this strategy is its specificity. You can foster a personal relationship with a specific person (or group of people) through consistent, personal messages and discussions.
Indirect Marketing, by contrast, is aimed at a broad, often undefined audience. A paid advertisement on Google, for instance, can be seen by anyone. Even if you are targeting people who search for “fantasy novels”, you still have little to no control over who actually sees that ad. Indirect marketing aims to encourage engagement with your content or brand, such as social media shares, follows, or product reviews.
The main benefit with this type of marketing is that it helps you attract a much wider audience than you could otherwise reach through your direct marketing channels. If my email newsletter only has 20 subscribers, then that limits the numbers of books I can sell, even if I am more likely to sell books to people with whom I am actively and directly communicating. A paid ad on Google, however, could potentially reach millions of users, the hope being that even a fraction of that vast audience is interested enough to visit your website, share your content on social media, and just maybe, eventually, buy a copy of your book.
Action vs. Engagement
Red String PaperCuts (and all blogs and websites, by the way) is a form of indirect marketing. By posting articles every week, I am dipping my toe into the vast sea of the internet hoping for someone to bite — to be interested, to engage with my content by following my blog or leaving a comment.
In terms of selling a book, calling Jessie up and talking to her for 10 minutes about why she should totally buy my book is direct marketing — I know exactly who my audience is, and I am trying to convince her to take a specific action — Buy My Book.
On the flip side, sending a direct message to another WordPress user about my website or my book is direct marketing. But posting a link to my book’s Amazon product page on Facebook hoping for someone to share it is indirect marketing.
The difference is in asking a specific person to take a specific action (direct marketing), rather than hoping a broad range of people will engage with my content in some meaningful way (indirect marketing).
Let’s have another look at that list I provided earlier and divide it into direct and indirect marketing avenues:
|Direct Marketing – communicating directly with specific people||Indirect Marketing – putting out ads or content to a broad, often unknown audience|
Make sense? My list is by no means exhaustive, and in fact, Marketergizmo provides a great chart here comparing the most common forms of direct and indirect marketing.
This post is just the tip of the iceberg, but later on we’ll look at what the most common channels of marketing offer. As I said before, a solid marketing strategy should include at least three or four of these channels, with a mix of both direct and indirect methods. I will eventually dive into what specifically I am doing to promote my own book and demonstrate the successes/failures of that strategy (with hopefully more of the former than the latter).
Sources Used and Other Resources
Reference.com – https://www.reference.com/business-finance/difference-between-direct-indirect-marketing-5934449e99b1ca9d – Concise, traditional definition of direct marketing.
Marketergizmo – http://www.marketergizmo.com/direct-marketing-redefined/ – A more fluid explanation of the differences between direct and indirect marketing.
Brandastic – https://brandastic.com/direct-vs-indirect-marketing/ – An in-depth discussion of the major advantages/disadvantages of direct and indirect marketing.
Mojn – http://blog.mojn.com/direct-v-indirect-marketing-qanda-with-a-marketing-strategist/ – A good interview with a marketing specialist about digital marketing in general.