Writer's Life: Networking & Marketing Tips and Encouragement (Katie)
Writing can be exhilarating and fulfilling. Painting word pictures, teaching new concepts and ideas, creating worlds--for a writer, few things in life are as fun as this. In today's world, though, more is needed from a writer than simply writing. At least, more is needed from a writer who wants to get their work out there for others to see.
Networking and marketing are two tools in a writer's toolbox that can help them get their writing into the hands of readers. You might be asking, What is networking and marketing? The answer can be fairly simple or super in depth, but for the sake of this blog post we're going with the simple.
Networking is the meeting and forming of relationships with industry professionals. In short, it's meeting other writers, editors, publishers, marketers, or literary agents.
Marketing is promoting your goods (in this case, your writing) in order to get other people to read it. Think about the commercials you see on TV, the flyers you find on your windshield from time to time, or the emails you find in your inbox.
Tips & Tricks
So, you have a basic idea of what these things are. How can you use them to help yourself? How do they relate to each other? What about the introvert? ( I am an introvert, BTW)
Both networking and marketing can be super intimidating for writers, but over the years I've learned a few things I find useful. In no specific order, here are some tips and tricks for networking and marketing that I've been able to use.
1. Find something you ENJOY
There are dozens of ways to market your books. Social media, in-store book signings, mailing out bookmarks and stickers and candles, blog hops, podcasts, libraries or school visits, writers conferences...the list goes on and on.
What I have come to see is that the things *I* enjoy the most are generally going to be the most successful for *me*. If you're a pro at all things social media? Well, use that. If you love and adore in-person events but hate social media? Well, skip the Facebook live and hit the pavement to set up a few library or independent bookstore signings. If you love receiving SWAG, utilize your love and knowledge to set up a fantastic SWAG campaign.
Every type of marketing has its place, but finding things that can fit with your lifestyle will most likely be the *most* beneficial for YOU. Why? Because you'll actually be able to stick with it, and not only that but stick with it with enthusiasm. Guess what? Enthusiasm sells.
2. Be nice!
Talking to people is very intimidating for me. I generally think that most people are busy and they likely don't want to hear from me. If I reach out to them I might be bothering them. Right? I know I'm not the only one who thinks this way!
But the truth is, the majority of people on this planet just want a friend. Be nice to people, and you'll find it goes a long way in networking (and marketing, too!).
If you're part of a writer's social media loop and someone on the loop asks for advice? Offer some. If they need a beta reader and you have the time to fit it in, volunteer. If you have a book or two out on the market, and a beginning writer asks you to endorse their book, give it an honest consideration before simply answering with a "no."
I'm not saying you can't ever decline a request for help. Lord knows we are ALL busy. Sometimes we must say no. But, if you can say yes, show a little kindness. It goes a long way.
In that same vein, if you read an author's book, or if you listen to an industry professional's podcast, or if you see an interview with an aspiring author and enjoyed it? Tell them! Send that bit of encouragement. Be the light.
Like we often tell readers when it comes to reviews, it doesn't have to be long! Just shoot them a note to let them know you enjoyed their content. Trust me, they won't forget it.
3. Try something outside your comfort zone
Earlier I said to find something you enjoy, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't ever consider stepping outside the box. Sometimes you'll find you love something you never thought possible. You might NOT find that you love it, but it could still hold big benefits.
Here's a secret. I HATE writer's conferences. I have been to several. I have never enjoyed any of them *that* much. That's not to say I haven't loved the relationships I've formed (think networking!). That's not to say I haven't learned a ton about the craft of writing. I have! But overall, they're very intimidating for me.
Yet, I keep stepping outside my comfort zone and attending. Why? Because sometimes it's good to do things that scare you. It can open doors that would otherwise remain firmly shut (hello networking!).
So, stop by your local independent bookstore. Visit local libraries. Get to know people. Comment on people's social media posts. Design a cool bookmark to go with your book and ask your librarian if you can leave a stack at the checkout counter.
Start a podcast. Speak at a writer's group. Join a writer's group! Whatever "new" is for you? Try that, at least once or twice. You might be glad you did!