Marketing & The Author: Just Be Yourself
I get asked a lot by different authors what I did, or what I do, to market myself and make myself so successful.
Well, after I stop laughing because they called me successful, I’m completely honest with them.
I. Have. No. Idea.
No seriously. I don’t.
I’ve taken some marketing classes and I can tell you all about how the books say to promote your brand. Make sure your brand looks good. Treat your brand like a favored child.
The fact of the matter is, what works for me, may not work for you. My marketing strategies, nonexistent as they are, are geared and created for me. I don’t think I’ve ever run into someone with a story like mine, who is a Messianic black Jew, with an uber religious family, who has suffered abuse, trauma, rape, been on drugs, been an alcoholic, who is also transgender, gay and a single father. My story is unique.
But so is yours.
My bio mother used to tell me all the time that we are all Designer Originals. There is no one else out there who writes like you. No one else can breathe life into YOUR characters, but YOU. No one else knows your characters’ worlds, their quirks, their likes and dislikes. To you they are alive. Living, breathing organisms that laugh, cry, get angry, have sex, fight, survive and triumph over all of the obstacles you toss in their path.
So use that.
Make your characters as real to your audience as you can. Not just in your books, but outside of them. Every so often, Tommy, one of my most popular characters from the Tate Pack series, will pop up on my blog and completely take over. The readers love that and I love being able to share more of Tommy with them.
I share with my readers,, and other authors, certain aspects of my life. I don’t share everything, I’m still a pretty private person, and I probably won’t even share the same thing with everyone, but I share enough so that my readers (and other authors) don’t think that I sit in the Purple Fantasy Den, writing books upon books and sitting on piles of money. I make myself real to my readers. I make myself personable. They know they can share with me and I’ll share back. I let them know when I cried while writing a book and they let me know that they cried reading it. I know that while I may be an author, I’m only a writer without my readers, and that’s something that’s very important to understand.
Yes, I run contests, yes I do blog hops and host other authors on my blog (Ask Author every Monday and Friday is Blog Pimpage/Flash Friday), but for the most part my marketing strategy is just being myself. I don’t let arrogance that I am an author contaminate my being so that way it doesn’t bleed over into my writing. I’m honest with my readers when I tell them I don’t do reviews and I don’t usually read my own unless I’m feeling particularly emotionally strong.
My readers appreciate knowing that I have never forgotten the fact that while I may be an author to them, I’m still just a reader to authors like Amy Lane, Mary Calmes, Andrew Grey, Stormy Glenn, Gabrielle Evans, Jana Downs, Toni Griffin, Cherie Noel, N.J. Nielsen, AKM Miles, and a host of other authors that I won’t take the time to name because we’d be here all day.
I usually try to have something special every day on my blog and/or website. Mondays are Ask Author or Man-oh-Man Monday (flash pieces inspired by photo prompts/descriptions). Tuesdays are Tantalizing Teaser Tuesdays where I share some bit of sexy from either a new release, a coming-soon, or a WIP. Wednesdays are WIP Wednesday where I let the readers know what I’m working on and share an excerpt. Thursday is Tate Pack/Character Thursday where a character from one of my books (usually from the Tate Pack) shows up and just lets loose. Friday is Blog Pimpage/Flash Fiction Friday. I either talk about the blog/website of an author/reader/reviewer/blogger/etc that I like and talk about it or I write a quick 1-5k word short just for the readers.
Maybe it’s the fact that they have something new every day (when I have the time to devote to setting up a week), maybe it’s me being real, talking about my bio family, disappointments, hurts, failures, triumphs, etc. Maybe it’s how much I’m on social media like Facebook or Twitter. Maybe it’s my Yahoo Group.
Or maybe it’s just the stories that I write.
I have no idea what I do to market myself. I’m just myself and I put Vic on display, not completely, there are parts of me still in the shadows, but there’s enough of me out there that readers know who I am, know they can come talk to me and know that my personality spills over into my writing. I don’t trash other author’s work, or other author’s in general, I don’t trash reviewers, bloggers, I donate money to charities and encourage my readers to do the same. I’m a philanthropist and an advocate for change and encourage them to do the same. I sign petitions, I used to march, I write posts about serious topics on my personal blog and I share them with my readers so that they know that I am a real person with real morals, ideals, values and substance.
Maybe that’s what appeals to them. So my best advice to someone about being an author and marketing?
Be yourself. Because yourself is fabulous and the readers will see it and flock to you.