If you ask a writer if they could do anything they wanted what would it be? You most likely will hear … write. And from the writing we hopefully birth books that go out into the world and find readers. Yay! But all writing and publishing does not a successful writer make … unfortunately.

Nope. There’s that four-letter-dreaded word … marketing. (Yeah, okay, not really four, but it shivers through most of us like a curse.) This week I’m going to focus on different avenues of marketing and today I thought I’d start with the online variety.

Even NYT Best selling authors need to go out and press flesh at book signings. Adoring fans want to meet the person who whisked them away to another place or time or helped them remember what it was like to fall in love again. New authors have it even harder as readers don’t normally flock to the table of an unknown entity to buy a book they know nothing about and get the signature of a writer they’ve never heard of. Yeeeeeah, that’s the nightmare booksigning of authors.

And what if you don’t have a print book? What if it’s only electronic? Obviously marketing at bookstores isn’t going to help you. You need to go where your readers are and that means the internet. Marketing your book on the internet can be as time consuming as writing it if you use all the social media avenues out there. Besides your website there are a couple of places where your readers will be looking for you. And that’s facebook and twitter. These two avenues offer you the opportunity to interact with readers and let them get to know you and your book. (There is also the lesser known/used Linked In and GoodReads … I didn’t bother to mention MySpace because I think it’s gone the way of the video player) … but these two biggies are where you’ll find the tech-savy reader who will very likely being buying their books online.

Marketing effectively in that medium not only means touting your newest book, but spending time talking about yourself, not necessarily that you just finished your third chai tea and no have to pee, but interesting snippets of your life that engage people. And “chatting” with people on these sites also brings them into your world.

Readers are more likely to pick up your newest book if they know that you went to your local fire station to talk to the fire chief and you managed to trip up the paved walk, skinning your knee and requiring a bandage or two from the EMT guy before you could go on the tour. It has nothing to do with your hawt fireman vampire, but it does make them feel a little more connected to you. Those types of anecdotes are just the things readers love to share with other readers. Besides that makes your tweets and status updates humorous and engaging. Trust me when I say people will stop following you if everything you say is about your latest book and where to buy it.

Another place ebook authors hang out is Yahoo loops. There are more Yahoo loops for readers and authors than there are leaves on the maple tree outside my office window. And here again, I caution you to go easy. No one wants to read the same excerpt on 18 loops for a month. If you’re on a yahoo loop, try (and I know it’s not always easy with our busy schedules) to respond to the posts of other people now and again. Don’t be that author (or promotion company) that becomes an auto delete just because your name showed up in my inbox. Trust me when I say I have search parameters that send certain emails directly into the DELETE file, never to be opened. If you’ve become one of “those” then no matter what you post, it becomes moot because I won’t see it.

Marketing is a tightrope we all walk. After all … if you’re not writing you’re not really doing your job. But if you’re not doing some promotion … readers won’t know you’re out there.

On Wednesday and Friday I’ll talk about paper products vs “things”, contests, blog hops, multi-author promotion and whatever else I can think to cover. Feel free to throw out ideas as well.

I’d love to hear what you think of marketing both as a reader and an author. What methods do you find work the best?

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