Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Second Favorite Piece of Marketing Advice

The most successful, comfortable marketing slogan ever (well, for me at least):

It’s Not About You

In fact, it comes with a 95% guarantee that if you repeat this to yourself often, you’re marketing efforts will go much more smoothly. And it applies to just about every aspect of marketing and promotion, from writing a short bio to giving a presentation to school visits. It’s not about you. It’s about THEM—your audience, and what you are doing FOR THEM.

Which is most often to entertain or enlighten. It’s not about talking about yourself, or ego gratification or sounding like an expert or even selling more books. It’s about connecting with them on some level and either entertaining them for a half hour or enlightening. Answering questions they might not even realized they had.

I think this is one reason giving writing workshops is (relatively) comfortable for me. Workshops are SO not about me. They’re about giving other writers useful information I’ve happened to stumble across in my own writing journey. They’re about imparting very specific information where the focus is on craft, not me as an author or person.

Author panels, too, work better for me because it’s not about me talking, it’s about a conversation on children’s writing or literature. On a panel, the conversation takes center stage, not the individuals speaking.

I hate writing author bios. I live a boring life, there’s not much to say that sounds very impressive, but they are a necessity. So if I put myself in the position of the reader of author bios, it becomes somewhat easier. What could I tell them about myself that would seem funny or amusing or make them laugh or help them sell a book?

Sometimes it can be hard to try and wrap one’s mind around what the recipient of the bio, workshop, presentation, bookmark, might want. The easiest thing to do in this case is use your mad characterization skills and put yourself in their shoes, just like you would a character you were writing about. Think back to before you were writing, or think of YOUR favorite authors—what is it you’re dying to see, hear, know about them? That’s usually a good place to start. (Unless your interest leans toward stalkerish, and then we don’t want to know!)

So a group of young school kids might need inspiration or affirmation of the revision process by a real writer instead of a teacher. Or maybe permission to write, or assurance that all voices are important. Or maybe simply to be entertained (which is not so very simple to do) or an excuse to get out of math for the afternoon.

Whereas teachers are looking for a broader, more exciting context for writing that will help motivate their students. Booksellers might need something interesting to tell their customers about why this book will work for the young reader they’re buying it for, or how the writer came to write this book or what school curriculum it touches on.

Oftentimes, the person in question might just want to feel like they’ve connected with you in someway outside the book so they can see the connection between loving your book and the person you are.

But even when it is about you, it’s not really ABOUT you. It’s about serving your readership and your audience. It’s about giving back to those people who trusted you with a few hours of their life to read your book or trusted you enough to put your book in the hands of a young reader or recommended you to a parent.

Or at least, that’s the lens through which I view the whole process the least painfully. You’re welcome to borrow those lenses and see if they work for you

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a great reminder, Robin! Promotion is often called 'tooting your own horn' but I think your description, that it's NOT about you, it's about giving more information to those who look at your book, is much more truthful. And less scary. :)

~Thalia Chaltas, perhaps not quite an introvert, but a 'middlevert'