Because it’s me, I keep trying to figure out how to systematize some kind of approach to book marketing.  I’ve been working a lot on various things with greater or lesser success, and I worked out a general idea of what marketing is and does; click here for more explanation.  But that’s kind of complex, which makes it a difficult place to start.

So this morning I was trying to work out some obscure point of what a retention campaign was and how I might be able to approach it (longer story than I want to get into here), and I sat down to journal it out.  Some good stuff popped out.

Hint:  None of this is easy.  I’m just trying to sort out how to prioritize.

The priority order for an organic (rather than planned out from the start) marketing strategy might go like this:

  1. Content.
  2. A place to call home that you can control.
  3. Connections between stuff.
  4. Your brand.
  5. Tweaking and leveling up on the previous items.

1. Everything goes back to content.  If you don’t have content, you can’t sell stuff.

  • Content that you create in order to sell under your own name, and for which you retain rights but can license.
  • Content that you create in order to promote yourself, that you control (blog posts).
  • Content that you create in order to promote yourself, that you don’t fully control (social media, blog tour posts).
  • Content that you create that you don’t control but you still have credit for (freelancing work with credits).
  • Content that you create that you don’t control and don’t get credit for but that can still build a reputation (ghostwriting).
  • Content that other people create about you or your work, to promote you.  Don’t pay for this; it will come back to haunt you.
  • Content that you pay for and control (ghosted work).

2.  A place to call home that you can control.

  • A website with its own separate domain name and an independent hosting service.
  • A website that falls under a free website platform (WordPress, LiveJournal, Blogger, oh my god I’m dating myself aren’t I?).
  • A social media platform that really isn’t separate from other users on the same site (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
  • Nothing, you don’t have a website, social media, or anything else set up.

3.  Connections between stuff (more info here).

  • Direct contact information.
  • Resume, bio, bibliography.
  • Link to what you have for sale on website.
  • Link to what you have for sale on social media.
  • Link your website and your social media.
  • Direct outreach on website (newsletter).
  • Links between everything that isn’t your website, prioritizing your newsletter.
  • Free promo via third parties (blog tours, giveaways, Goodreads events).
  • Paid promo via third parties (ads, contests).

4. Your brand.

  • What do you make and who you make it for and why (sub-brands okay).
  • Research to find out where the market says that is now and find out how to make yours fit but stand out (80% like everything else; 20% catchy and different).
  • Start back at the beginning of item 1 and make sure all elements fit your brand or that you expand your brand to fit what you’re selling.

5.  Tweaking and leveling up.

  • Keep writing content.  Keep studying so you can write better content.
  • Improve existing content, especially covers and blurbs, as you improve.
  • Check with customers to make sure you’re still providing what they want (reviews, private emails and comments, public comments, polls/surveys, sales numbers).
  • Check that your brand and the market still are in sync (80% in sync/20% different).
  • Keep up with marketing methods to see if there’s anything you can do that produces high benefits at a low cost (usually, this is early adopters/first big wave adopters who see the biggest benefits, which is why you want to keep up).
  • Check for broken or inefficient connections (e.g., boot newsletter subscribers who aren’t opening their emails).
  • Check to make sure your brand still feels comfortable and lets you write what you want to write.

Obviously, you can’t do all this stuff in order.  Sometimes you just have to put a mental pin in something and move on.  But this at least sums up what I know at this point.  As you go through iterations of this list, things will have more or less importance than you see here–for example, it’s hitting me now that branding is way more important than I thought.  But then I already have books for sale, a website, and social media set up, and I can tweak my branding stuff for all that.  If I tried to do my brand first and my writing later…I might write something that didn’t fit to brand, and then where would I be?

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