Marketing for You, the Indie Writer – Part 4

| May 5, 2014 | 11 Comments

marketing-004About Getting Started. Due to many requests, I’m revisiting ‘getting started with marketing’. After the first three posts, several readers said: I don’t have any fans, I don’t have any followers, I’m not known in any reader-forums, how do I start? I breezed past some basics in the last post Part 3 by saying that your blog should reflect “the intersection of: your writing, your interests, and your readers.” But I left out how to find out who your readers are. This post will back up and dig into that a little deeper.

Sorry about the abnormally long gap between posts, but I put my latest book out and ended up doing more polishing and editing than I expected.

Ideally, you know your typical reader’s profile: a 38-yr-old male who shops at Target not Walmart, is married with 2.3 kids, drives a pickup, and owns a Taser. That kind of profile is gold. But if you’re new, how do you know what your fans look like? Where do you start?

Sometime ago, I noticed the marketing behavior of a debut writer named Xander Weaver. His first book will come out in the next few weeks (keep your eyes open, it’s excellent) but he began marketing a long time ago. I first ran across him in reader-forums where he often promoted indie authors in his favorite genres. I began noticing his posts on social media and around the cyber-world. He was building relationships with established authors. Once in a blue moon he would mention his WIP. It was obvious he was building IOU’s across the internet, but he did it in exemplary fashion.

Every week I field several requests for reviews, promotion, help, etc from people I’ve never heard of and am not connected to in any way. Two or three times a year, if the first page is exceptionally promising* (Lance Charnes, Louis Kirby, Bill Davis to name a few), I’ll engage. I reserve my energy for those who helped me.

SOUTH by Lance Charnes

SOUTH by Lance Charnes

Shadow of Eden by Louis Kirby

Shadow of Eden by Louis Kirby

Many indie authors will take a minor annoyance as an inexcusable sin and refuse to work with you. I once had a writer tell me she couldn’t help someone who used the word “that” in sentences and bailed on my third page. (Shakespeare and I are okay with”‘that”.) Another author refused to reciprocate because my hero used darts (the CIA  used dart back in 1972) and claimed they were unrealistic despite the author being a fan of James Rollins who wrote about telepathic marsupials. Go figure. If a writer won’t reciprocate—I forget about them. No hard feelings, just no further interaction required.

So the day came when Xander Weaver mentioned his book was in the final stages. Because he’d done so much for me without asking, I begged to beta-read his book. It was far better than I expected. Despite being a couple of years ahead of him in writing, I could only offer a few structural pointers in what was otherwise an exciting and well written thriller. When he releases it, you will hear from me. He earned my help** and I will not hold back.

Mr. Weaver’s diligence in helping others will earn him some of my fans. I’m not worried. There are 7 billion people in the world and I’ve not broken into the first million yet. There are plenty of readers to go around. Besides, my fans (and you both know who you are) read 50-100 books a year. I’m not writing that many. So I’m sharing my platform with Mr. Weaver as I have with Messrs. Charnes, Kirby, and others.

Pagan Moon

Pagan Moon by Bill Davis

Mr. Weaver’s method worked for me early on as well. I’ve been a huge fan of Zoë Sharp’s Charlie Fox series. I raved about her books in reviews, recommended them whenever possible, and so on. The day came when more than one reader told me I was getting boring. But I still recommend Ms. Sharp—read her work. You’ll love it.

When I released my first novel, I bit my nails for a long time then finally broke down and asked her for a blurb. She was incredibly gracious and kind. She even helped brace the readers for the rough opening (I still plan to rewrite the opening someday).

Riot Act by Zoe Sharp

Riot Act by Zoe Sharp

In short: you start by helping others. Call it karma, the golden rule–whatever–it works.

Peace, Seeley


* Yes, I look at the first page or two of every request. You’d be surprised by how many good books I have to ignore just to get work done.

** infinitesimal as that help might be…



Category: Great Writers On Writing, Marketing for You the Indie Writer

Comments (11)

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  1. smanke says:

    Another great post, Seeley! I think that authors who use social media strictly to pitch their books are missing out (and potential doing damage to their reputation at the same time). There are so many amazing, likeminded people out there. Some of those people will be other writers, but many will be readers. I think the key is to interact—not just promote and sell.

    If an author looks at social media as primarily a marketing tool, he/she is likely missing out on the best that these platforms have to offer.

  2. That makes a lot of sense. I don’t do that stuff much at all. Except for Seeley James! But then, I’m a long way from finishing my first. Where should I start, Google plus, facebook?

  3. Seeley James says:

    I’d recommend Goodreads. i’ve seen you around there for a bit. Second would be any book club you find attractive.

  4. Deborah Jay says:

    Great post for those starting out, Seeley. What you describe is precisely what I love about the indie author scene – there’s enough room for all of us, and we can all help each other out.
    I know it doesn’t always work that way in reality (or so I’ve heard), but I’ve yet to have any negative experiences, so I’m with you all the way.

  5. epscott says:

    You are so right, Seeley. Thank you for all of these wonderful posts. They are very helpful to us beginners. Now, I must make an effort to keep up with those I follow and discuss things with.

    My issue is I want too many social websites. What would be your recommendation for the best ones to focus on (please don’t say FB, cuz I’m taking a hiatus from the craziness on there these days. :))?

    If you have already mentioned them in one of your other marketing posts, just direct me there. It’s been a while since I’ve read them. :)

    • Seeley James says:

      Great question! I know what you mean about FB. It can be a huge time suck.

      For writers looking for connections with other writers, I use G+ and blogged about it for The Alliance of Independent Writers, here

      For reaching readers, Goodreads has a million problems … but that’s where the readers congregate in large numbers. Why does the lion go to the watering hole? Because the animals are there. (bad metaphor huh :)

      Last week, someone posted on GR “how many forums are you in?” I responded with 16. But I knew I wasn’t active in many of them. SO, I cleaned house. I’m now committed to 5. 3 professional writers groups and 2 readers forums.

      • epscott says:

        Great article on G+. I was on there, but decided to give it up for twitter and FB (I may have to rethink this). I did enjoy it when I was there, but as I said, too many social sites.

        I am on Goodreads as well, but only belong to one reviewing group as I am not published yet, have been to the author sites, joined them and felt like I couldn’t contribute (that will have to change, I think, since reading this latest marketing post). I did belong to booklikes, but, again, too much to do.

        I’ve been trying out LinkedIn, have joined a few writing groups, but not quite in the swing of it. I think I have to learn to manage my time to allow for social networking, writing, family and, oh, yeah, my real job. :)

        Oh, and that wasn’t a bad metaphor…interesting choice, but not bad. :)

  6. Seeley James says:

    It’s different for everyone but here’s how I use Social Media now that I’ve spent a few days soul-searching why/where/how I’m engaged:
    –LinkedIn, day job only. It keeps me aware of my old career friends’ current status. The forums there suck.

    –Goodreads, I’m in 2 forums for book lovers of my genre — as a reader only. I also run occasional giveaways through their odd but workable system.

    –Facebook, I try to make this the author-personal side. Most of my website traffic comes from FB but I’m reading fewer posts everyday. Too many lol-cats.

    –Twitter, I don’t get Twitter, but I’m on it and 5,000 people are following me.

    –GooglePlus, I’m in 3 writer’s groups. One for business of writing, one for writing’s sake, and one for critiques.

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