Taming the Marketing Monster

When my daughters were little, they were convinced that a scary monster was waiting in the bedroom closet at night. Our solution was an easy one: I gave them a small hammer to put under their pillow, so when the monster came out, they could conk it on the head. Oddly enough, the monster never showed up, and my daughters slept soundly through the nights.

Empowerment is a wonderful thing.

Now that I’ve become a published novelist, I’ve discovered that most authors have a similar problem: there’s a scary monster in our closets named Marketing, and it will come out of hiding even if you keep a hammer under your pillow. Not only that, but if you ignore it, Marketing will sneak out when you’re not looking to destroy all your hard work to become published.

On the other hand, if you learn to tame it, Marketing will become your faithful friend, bringing you exposure, opportunities, and book sales.  So instead of the hammer, here are a few empowering ideas to stick under your pillow tonight to help you begin the taming of your marketing monster.

  1. It’s YOUR monster. No one else is going to take responsibility for it, so you need to learn as much as possible about the feeding and care of it. Read blogs and books about book marketing. Create a list of media contacts in your area that includes radio stations, televisions, newspapers, magazines and even bulletin boards (find out who gives approval to use them!).  Add the names of librarians, book store managers, and book club contacts. Make a roster of blogs that relate to your topic/novel where you can visit and leave comments. By creating your own database of ideas and contacts, the question of “what do I do?” becomes “where do I start?”
  2. Feed your monster every day. Choose one marketing activity. Do it. Today. Write an announcement/press release of your book’s publication and email it to your contact list. Visit five blogs and mention your book. Donate a copy to the library. Get a Facebook page. Don’t worry about results at this point; just get the word out that you’ve got a book published. Tomorrow, choose another marketing task and do it. The next day, do the same thing. Feeding your monster a steady diet of small marketing activities will keep it content and much less scary. Over time, all those tidbits of publicity you’ve done will add up and begin to yield the bigger results you want: a growing readership.
  3. Take your monster out to play on a regular basis. Meet other authors and network with them on marketing ideas and contacts. Plan joint events. Share experiences. Commiserate over the failures. Celebrate the triumphs. Laugh. Create your own marketing support group.

Most of all, don’t let Marketing scare you. All it really wants is your attention…and to get out of that closet. You just have to open the door.

What scares you the most about Marketing? Has your monster brought you unexpected gifts?

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About jandunlap

"Archangels Book I: Heaven's Gate" is Jan's new Christian suspense novel that melds cutting-edge science with faith. She is also the author of "Saved by Gracie," her best-selling humorous spiritual memoir and the Birder Murder Mystery series that follows the adventures of ace birder/high school counselor Bob White, who has a bad habit of finding bodies when he birds. When she's not playing with fictional devices, Jan is a birdwatcher, a featured speaker, and the proud mother of five children. She welcomes visitors at jandunlap.com.

16 thoughts on “Taming the Marketing Monster

    • Fear is really a constant nemesis for writers, Kimberly. We’re afraid no one will like our books, or that we can’t possibly do a good job marketing it. For me, making marketing fun has made a huge difference. Now I look forward to playing with marketing ideas and seeing what works, and what doesn’t, which gives me stories to share with other writers.

    • I’m glad you liked the analogy! I used to shudder when my publisher sent me emails asking me what I was doing to market my books. Now I can hardly wait to let my monster out of the closet every time another book debuts!

    • Good luck with your own plan of attack, Carrie. I’ve found that the more I talk about marketing with others (and not just authors, either, but store managers and even deli owners!), the more I learn about cool ideas that are fun and productive. You just have to take that first step, and then another, and another…

  1. When I first learned that when (if?) I get my book published I would be responsible for the majority of its marketing I cringed. The more I learn the more I remember why I didn’t study business in college. This isn’t fun.

    You’re approach seems much more palatable, though. Thanks so much for the advice!

    • Ann, I still cringe when I think of my writing as a business – I avoided business courses in school, too! I practice a bit of denial on that count – I focus on my writing as God’s gift to me, and since I love to share gifts, I think of marketing as the way to share. If I think of marketing as essential business behavior, I want to climb into the closet with the monster and never come back out!

  2. Nice metaphor. The Marketing Monster is tamed when we call him out and place him under the authority of our Master Marketing Planner. If God is for us, who can be against us? But hiding and hoping God will do all the work doesn’t change anything. We can slay the Marketing Monster only when we use the modern weapons our Planner places in our arsenal. Your practical ideas are perfect strategies. Thanks for the reminders.

    • Anita, sometimes I think naming the fear is half the battle, don’t you? It’s not so scary once we can name it and visualize it and begin to develop a strategy to approach it and use it. Empowerment is so critical for a writer’s success.

  3. Love the analogy! It’s important to remember that “It’s Your Monster”. Something that can be tamed and controlled appropriately.

    You should write a post targeting the people that want to venture into the scary world of book marketing from a professional standpoint. Basically people like me lol.

  4. I don’t know anything about doing it as a professional! But I heard from an acquaintance once that it’s a lot of driving around in cars and holding up name signs at the airport. Gee, I drove my kids to sports for years, so maybe I am qualified…Glad you liked the post!

    • You’re really good at this, Janalyn! Your monster must be so well trained not to eat up your writing time. That’s the part I’m still working on – I could spend all day tossing it bites, but when I want to go write, my monster begs for more. And I’m such a sucker for a monster…

  5. I love your attitude. For a long time I shunned the idea of tooting my own horn. Several months ago I started think differently about marketing, seeing it as a welcome challenge and “fun” instead of a monster to be feared.

    I took notes on your post, adding them to my growing list of ways to tackle the beast. 🙂 Thank you.

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