Direct or Indirect Marketing?

Crow in Kaslo - Bruce Witzel photo

As I cruise down the road towards getting the third book in the Crater Lake Series out and into the world, I am, once again, asking myself a couple of marketing questions. If you follow my blog or know me at all, you’ll know these type of questions make me nervous. But part of being a self-published author is marketing. No getting around it.

We live and learn, right? Or at least that’s what the old saying claims. For my first book, I went down a number of semi-expensive, mostly fruitless marketing routes. Though, that evaluation is subjective. What might seem expensive to me could be peanuts to you. One thing I’m sure of, I didn’t get enough bang for the dollars I spent.

On the second book, I was frugal and DIY to the extreme. On the up side, I’m not pining after the loss of money I could ill afford to lose. On the down side, I don’t think I’ve been that effective in getting the news of the second novel in the Crater Lake Series out there.

This time around, I plan to try a direct marketing strategy – one short email to inform people that the third book is out. I’ll include a pertinent Amazon buy link.

How would you feel about one such email? Would it seem intrusive? Or would you file away the information and move on? Would this type of notice put a book you might like to read a bit further up your purchase and eventually read list?

I’m also considering a change to how I interact on Twitter. When I started with Twitter, I vowed that all my tweets would be live and authentic. If you saw a tweet from me it would mean I was at my computer, in the midst of my life. Using a service like HootSuite to schedule and manage tweets seemed phony to me. Just another way to manipulate the whole social media world. Now I’m not so sure.

First and foremost, I don’t believe that Twitter sells books so I’m not planning to use it as a direct marketing tool. But I’d like to tweet more effectively in terms of raising awareness about myself as an author and maybe driving traffic to my blog. Perhaps, there’s no reason those type of tweets can’t be scheduled and allow me to do my other fun tweets on my own time – live and as real as any tweet can be.

Brief aside – always, I recognize that a presence on any social media platform is manufactured reality. But what reality isn’t manufactured to some degree? Let’s leave that philosophical debate for another post.

Do you do Twitter? If so, what do you think of services that manage the scheduling of tweets for you?

I still believe that this blog is my most effective indirect marketing tool, hands down above Facebook, Twitter or a static web page. It allows readers to get to know me and in that way become curious about reading I book I wrote. As an indie author, I build my following one reader at a time. It’s not a glitzy approach to book marketing or one likely to send me off on an expensive vacation any time soon. But it feels right.

Today, my view of the lake is grey to the extreme. Rain lashes the front of the cabin and the wind is whipping the trees on the cliff around in some kind of frenetic dance – whirling dervishes come to mind. For the first time this year, snow covers the mountain peaks and the old rhyme of April showers is far too tame to capture this onslaught of moisture.

April Showers - Guenette photo

26 comments on “Direct or Indirect Marketing?

  1. Since I’ve not yet been down this path, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. Since I’ve closed both my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I cannot attest to their effectiveness. I prefer the calm, steady waters and longer form of blogging and I’ve purchased books written by bloggers with a decent rate of satisfaction. Familiarity with their writing skills in advance is a huge marketing tool from my perspective. Again, I always appreciate reading about your experiences with self-publishing – they’re helpful. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Michelle. You reaffirm my conviction that the blog is the thing that matters when it comes to direct or indirect marketing. I, too, prefer the steady waters of blogging.

  2. evelynralph says:

    Ooh, that does look grey and grimy. Why not look on the bright side, new story with this grey theme in mind,omething totally different?
    Evelyn

    • I’m all for something new at this point, Evelyn. Today we are alternating between blistering showers and bright sunlight. I’ve put my clothes on and off the line twice now. Those April showers are flighty little things.

  3. jane tims says:

    Hi Fran. I wonder how many books your Blog tour sold. I know I bought one but I bought because I knew you and because I liked the first book in the series. I also use Twitter, and I have bought books I saw there. I rely heavily on Tweets from the publishers I follow, Amazon reviews, book covers that appeal, and authors I know. If you want to do another Blog tour, I’d be happy to host again. Jane

    • No idea on sales from the blog tour. It was more like partying around on other people’s blogs than marketing – probably the best way to approach anything on social media. Thanks so much for another invite to party on your blog. I’ll be in touch 🙂

  4. Gallivanta says:

    I don’t use Twitter. I do have a Facebook account. I have bought books written by bloggers. But the books that really get my attention are the ones reviewed on radio/TV, or in a newspaper, or by my local library. Do you have access to community radio, community newspapers or community TV?

    • I have developed quite a different approach to marketing ‘real’ books for my local market. This involves book readings and signings at local venues, local paper, community newsletters etc. I haven’t had the nerve to approach the local radio station yet – maybe book three will propel me into that medium.

  5. Cathy says:

    Answering from a reader’s point of view, I do rely mainly on bloggers but have also, to a lesser extent, found books I loved through social media. And I’d be quite happy to receive an email with a heads up about your book.

    That’s a great view whatever the weather 🙂

  6. Gwen Stephens says:

    Hi Fran, Twitter has always been a mystery to me. I truly don’t understand how 140 characters can forge a legitimate bond between one person and another. On the rare occasion I actually scroll through my feed, I almost never click on the links that follow a tweet. There’s so much noise and shallow promotion in this social media platform, I have a hard time seeing the value in it. Of course mine is only one opinion, and the powers-that-be in the writing and publishing worlds seem to stand by the mantra that a presence on Twitter is a necessity. One of the best things about blogging is the far more meaningful connections I’ve felt with people — something I’d never get from a Twitter feed. The beautiful photos you share, the stories behind them, and your journey through this crazy writing world, have been a pleasure to follow and learn from. I buy your books because I love the way you write. And what better way to discover one’s writing style than through a blog?

    • I take the 140 characters as a challenge – what can I say that matters in so little space? It’s a good exercise for one as long-winded as myself. Twitter is a bit like a big garage sale, to me. You approach with a feeling of excitement – so much stuff laid out on all those tables. Surely, there is treasure to be found. Yes, indeed – but it takes a whole lot of time to search through the piles of stuff on those table. A blog is more like a stroll through a wonderful, outdoor market on a sunny day. A few booths and tables I won’t bother with but for the most part, a wonderful cornucopia of things to choose from. I hope I keep you coming back for more, Gwen. I love your presence and your comments.

  7. Behind the Story says:

    I wouldn’t mind receiving such a notice. On a first novel, it may not get results because people wouldn’t know you or your writing. But this is the third in a series, so you’ve already done the basic advertising, so I suspect the response would be a lot better.

    My publisher set up a twitter account for me, but I never use it. I can’t handle that many things. I’m even thinking of writing fewer blogs so I can spend more time writing. (I’m a slow writer.)

    • Thanks for stopping by, Nicki. As for you being a slow writer – it obviously works 🙂 I just finished reading and reviewing Tiger Tail Soup. As I said in the review, masterful. I just didn’t want it to end. Your writing is so beautiful. The images you created will stay with me for some time to come. Many thanks.

  8. Behind the Story says:

    I guess we could call it something like “World War Two comes to a small Chinese island.” Is that too long?

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Certainly your blog, the fact that people liked the first (and second) in the series and your efforts to have your titles stocked in the local community are your greatest advantages Fran. I dipped a toe in Twitter marketing and though it was inexpensive it was also useless – I agree with Gwen ^^

    I don’t think anyone would object to a little discrete direct marketing and it may work to a degree, if only as a reminder.

  10. gpicone says:

    Do you publish your books on your own? Or have an agent and publisher? I was thinking about using Create Space but am not sure. Thanks!

    • I’m out there on my own, alright! For my 3rd novel, the only thing I had to contract out was ebook formatting. I do my own formatting for CreateSpace and my husband designs the book covers. In this self-publishing world, one has to keep the overhead down pretty low. CreateSpace is great to work with and you can always find someone to contract out cover and formatting if you aren’t comfortable with such things. Thanks for stopping by.

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