More than one employer has told me that they would love to find a way to clone me and send several of me out to do all of their projects. It’s always flattering to hear, but it never sunk in so much until it came time for me to do what is the equivalent of another full-time job after coming home from those projects.
When I decided to start getting my books written and published, it sounded like a lot of work. It’s a good thing I didn’t know then what I know now; it is a lot of work, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole lot of stuff that the author has to do if they want to be seen standing behind their books, and the work only begins after long hours sitting at a desk. (Or sitting on the porch, or standing up at a chic modern standing desk.)
At first I thought this would have to be a slow game to play, since marketing and advertising don’t generally come cheap. I was past most of my hangups about that kind of thing, since I learned long ago that these are still the only ways to let people know you have a great product. Like anything else, marketing and advertising are potentially both wonderful blessed things or great sources of evil. That’s fine; I handle the internet experience okay, and it’s full of way more evil stuff than marketing or advertising could ever be.
I want the folks that will love reading my books to know about them. Is that evil? Well, I never really claimed to be on one side or the other. If wanting every single person on Earth that will love my books to get a chance to find out about them and read them is evil, I guess I’m finally branded. I always have looked best in black, after all.
Now, how does this thing work?
Oh, I see why it seems so evil from the outside. Hype and trickery and too much loud stuff in people’s faces that they don’t want to see. Well, I don’t like that either. There’s no six figure account to blow on shouting from rooftops of buildings full of folks not interested…that’s not my style, or my intent, or within the budget if it were. It seems like maybe the best place to spend some time and money is on learning, when it comes to marketing and advertising is a classy and effective manner.
We’re on it. Sudden Insight Publishing is already working quietly on this, while also working quietly on freeing up plenty of time to focus on it next year. In the meantime, there are other ways that we have learned to expand our reach without draining our bank accounts. I am not able to do as many of them as I schedule each week, but I’m making more time with each week that does pass.
The Newsletter is very important, and we are doing some things to build that subscriber list. Giving away monthly prizes just became a regular thing at ‘The Secret Society of Deeper Meaning’, since we saw how excited members got when they won the occasional contest before. Letting folks know about those contests and the free content on social media has more people checking out the secret society than ever, and joining. More than one person had to advise me to do what it takes to give away that quality content, and reach out to readers in this way. The only thing I wish I had done differently is start it sooner.
I didn’t think this was a good year for a weekly blog until I had a great idea for one. Partway through the year, I got started. Now I’m glad to be doing this too; it really could help anyone getting started, and more of us than we might think are at some stage of just getting started. It also helps me see the path more clearly, both behind me and ahead of me, while allowing me to share that vision with you. That has driven more traffic to my website than ever before, although it’s not really designed to sell any books except the one I’ll compile from the blog and other research. And that isn’t available for purchase, just yet.
So, am I doing it out of the kindness of my heart? Or am I doing it to try to sell more books?
What? Can’t it be both?
That’s part of the marketing and advertising dilemma that seems to face most of us. We want to offer value, and we want to touch people in whatever way our books are meant to touch them. That’s real and true, and so is our desire to be rewarded for our hard work. The most basic part of this desire comes from the same place as wanting to uplift or entertain the folks that do read your books: any artist that can sell enough of their art to do it full time has that much more opportunity to do good in the lives of the people that love their art. All dreams of castles gilded with gold aside, many realistic artists simply dream of making a living doing what they love to do.
The only way to do that is to find enough people that love your art to buy it, and feel as good about the exchange as the artist. No matter how far commerce and capitalism may have taken us in some frightening directions as a society, the basic premise was founded on this honest and mutually beneficial transaction.
But how do I compete with the big guys, or even the medium-sized guys? I don’t know. I don’t compete with anyone but me, and the harder I work the more rewarding it is to kick my own ass. I do know one thing I have that the big guys don’t have, and I’ll bet you have one too.
I’ve got a face. It might not be the best face, but it’s all mine. It’s on the backs of all my books, and on my social media pages; it’s also conveniently attached to my head, which is something I take everywhere. I recently did a search for bookstores within a hundred mile radius of where I live; there were more than I expected. I’ve taken that face of mine into a few of them, and I’ll be taking it into more soon. It almost doesn’t even matter if you talk to someone about your books, the first time you show that face. These are book lovers, and you are likely to have something to talk to them about that means a lot to both of you. If your books come up, that’s great; if they don’t, that’s fine too. Either way, go back.
This is not the advice that you’ll get from a mercenary marketer, or a shark advertiser. But that’s not what I’m looking to be. I’m in it for the long haul, and I want a million friends more than I want a million fans. If that takes a little longer to build, I’m okay with that. I would rather build a foundation on genuine connections than on slick superficial techniques, and that takes more time and effort.
A good book on financial anything will compare your garden to your orchard. Anyone who wants their business to be the focus of their life and their full-time job needs to plant both a garden and an orchard. The garden is meant to yield fruit this season or next season, and when those fruits come it can be tempting to plant an even bigger garden next season. The long term demands attention in the present if we are to commit to it, however; and that means planting an orchard.
Trees almost never yield fruit in the first year. They have to be watered and fertilized and pruned to perfection for several years sometimes before they will feed anyone anything. A funny thing happens after a few years, though; those roots dig deep, and the fruit comes even when you aren’t fertilizing and watering the orchard so heavily. That bigger garden seems possible now, but it also makes you think of how it has to be tended carefully and rotated and replanted every year. Such thoughts may lead one to consider using that extra acreage to expand the orchard instead of the garden.
I plan to expand both, little by little, until me and mine are living on the best little book farm that we can build. I’ve shared some of these ideas on sharing your art with your ideal audience, in this post and others. Some of my ideas are a little outside the ordinary, and run the risk of not taking root. Once I’ve spent some time on them, and I’m ready to turn this blog into a book, I’ll share more of what has worked and what hasn’t as I have gone about happily putting myself to work. I mean, this is my dream; and I love to work hard. Why would I not be working hard on my dream?
Thanks for reading!
All the best,