Marketing to Other Authors

We hear it and read it all the time. “Being an author is 10% writing and 90% marketing” or “The majority of the marketing is done by the author, no matter who the publisher is” or other such sayings. Pretty much, they’re true, or at least as close to the truth as we can realistically get. I’ve already discussed such topics as getting dazzled by numbers or book trailers. The next thing I want to discuss is marketing to other authors.

If you go to various online communities with fellow authors, you’ll typically find a certain camaraderie (with some exception, there are jerks in every group) where authors are helping out other authors. Actually, that’s pretty much the foundation for the Writers of Mass Distraction. Authors support each other in numerous ways including marketing tips, review exchanges, and even purchasing each other’s books (especially when they’re available cheaply in eBook format). This is all valid. Strength in numbers. Also, there is nothing like getting a thumbs up from a fellow author on your own writing. It’s done all the time whether it be the unknown author or the bestselling author.

One thing we need to watch, however, is the trap where we focus too hard on marketing our books to fellow authors. Here’s an example. You’re new book was released today. You’re real excited (and who wouldn’t be). You’re a little nervous (or a lot, like I was). The first thing you need to do is remind people that it’s out. So you log into Writers Digest, the Book Marketing Network, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. and start posting. There’s a problem though. You just found half a dozen ways to send the message to the same group. Why?

Well, the Book Marketing Network has many of the same people as Writers Digest. On top of it, what I have seen with many authors is that the majority of their “friends” and “followers” in Facebook and Twitter are fellow authors. The same thing with other social media sites. I’m actually no exception to this. To top it all off, we then go into the chat forums on Amazon, Shelfari, and Goodreads and into the discussion groups where authors are allowed to plug their books. The problem with these discussion groups is that they’re frequented more often by authors than by readers looking for the next book. Readers go to each other’s discussion groups to find out the latest scoop. Of course, if you decide to start plugging yourself in those areas, you’re probably going to get ridiculed and tossed out as a spammer.

Another issue I’ve noticed is marketing firms who build marketing networks of pretty much nothing but authors. So now you’re paying to advertise your work through this firm who has built their social media and email distribution list of almost entirely other authors who also paid for the service. When signing up for such a service, first check how many followers or friends they have (depending on the site). Take a look at the profile of them (random spot checks are fine) to see how many are other authors (one particular agency I looked at boasted about their social media networks and had numerous accounts but in total had no more than 300 followers, all authors). I can tell you that your average reader has no need to sign up for the mailing list of a book marketing firm as they are not into book marketing, they’re into book buying. They are more likely to sign up for review publications. Along with that, beware of email blasts. The last statistic I saw is that less than 1% of emails sent this way actually lead to a sale.

Is this to say that you shouldn’t send notice of your new release through your social networks of author friends? Not at all. I love seeing when an author friend or acquaintance comes out with a new book. Matter of fact, I’ve reviewed several of these and will continue to do so. Many other authors feel the same way. It’s good for us to support each other. Also, an author who likes your book will probably share the recommendation with non-author friends, the same way any other reader would so marketing to authors is still marketing and spreading the word. The thing is though, we are a small community so if you are looking for wider distribution, diversify. Spending exorbitant amounts of time or money on marketing to fellow authors is just unneeded. Your friends and acquaintances will probably buy your book the first time they see it listed, especially if you have done the same for them (some don’t but very little is 100%). The other side of this is to be weary of paid for services that use our camaraderie as a way to make money off of us. No need to hand over your hard earned cash for an outsider to do something it would have taken you five minutes to do yourself.

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18 thoughts on “Marketing to Other Authors

  1. Well, as a hairdresser, I’m promoting my book behind the chair. I give my customers little snippets here and there. Yesterday, I did research at a local gun shop to learn the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. Handed the owner my writer’s card and told him about my novel. His shop will be metioned in the ‘thank you’ portion. He’ll also get a free copy. I’m also trying to seal a deal to do a book signing at my local Starbucks. And yes, way before its published. Gotta start now.

    Your article is great, Mike! Thanks for posting.

    Shelly

    • Shelly, that’s awesome. Creative marketing. Ads only do so much, we have to get out there and do things other people aren’t doing.

  2. Actually, Mike, there’s a fairly new site called Peroozal where authors can recommend each others’ work to other authors.

    Seriously, authors make recommendations, and readers can presumably log on and get those recommendations from their favorites.

    When I started out, I was part of a local writers group. We attended all of each others’ booksignings, bought their books (even if we didn’t really like the genre) and encouraged our non-writer friends and family members to do the same. When we did interviews, we made a point of suggesting the interviewers talk to other group members. One result of that effort was a feature story on local authors in a supplement of the St. Louis Business Journal.

    I knew a lot of local media people and arranged interviews for visiting authors I knew. We looked out for each other. We didn’t have the option of reviewing each others’ books then, but if we had, we would have–and not anonymously. Friends looked out for friends.

    • Very cool. Authors definitely can help other authors, as we do in WMD. I just see way too many people basing their marketing plan or spending valuable marketing dollars on a target audience of authors. The basis of the field of marketing is discovering your “customer” and marketing to them. Building awareness among fellow authors is better done by relationship building, as we see.

  3. I like the point Mike makes about the average reader not really being into any book sites that promote marketing. I imagine young adult readers and romance readers prefer friendly tips from their best friends. That’s why Facebook gets inundated.

    • Exactly. It’s good for authors to help other authors but that can only go so far. We’ve got to get our stuff out to the reading public. By combining forces, we help each other do that.

    • Thanks Donna! Like any marketing one must utilize multiple avenues to appeal to the target audience. There are a variety of mediums and people have a lot of choices.

  4. William and I, with Christina, came up with a brilliant (if I do say so myself) promotion for Same Time Tomorrow. It’s going to be great, but that’s all I’ll say for now–we want everyone to be surprised! Christina’s been posting excerpts from the book at The Blog Entourage, and our plan just seemed perfect for launching this unusual love story.

  5. Mike,
    Great article! You make some excellent points to ponder. Yes, we do need to diversify and as Norma says we really need to support each other. Take care!

  6. Mike,
    Very good post, hon. Soooo true about this info. I’d been talking with another author about this very thing, before. Now if I could just figure out where to market to readers, the best. What about contacting media to promote our books? Could that work to get the word out about our books to the readers? 🙂 hoping it can. What ideas of ways and sites to go to do you recommend?

    • Media is one of the best way to spread the word. There are a lot of techniques and it should probably be another blog post or ten.

      • Cool. Then, I will consider going to media for marketing my poetry book, and later, my romance novel. If you do this of more posts about more techiniques, cool. I look forward to more info on this.

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