Blogging 101: Marketing

Jun 19, 2006Write!

Jill, in my last post, asked for blogging advice. So, here are some relevant tips for blogging AND marketing. I hope this helps, Jill!

Since I live in France and make my living (if you can call it that at this stage in my career) selling books in America, I’ve had to become creative in the way I promote and market my books. My initial fear in moving to France, in terms of writing, was that I would be unpublishable if the publishers balked at my distance.

It was excruciating for me to wrestle through the calling God had on our lives as leave-everything-behind church planters with my passion to write. I felt like I had to sacrifice one for the other. So, in a very real sense, I laid writing down. And yet, God has allowed me to pick up where I left off in the states by His grace. Part of that has to do with the blogosphere.

I blog here and I blog here at the Master’s Artist and Pioneer Parenting. I’ve developed a small readership and, thanks to a fellow blogger, I’ve used a handy trick to keep the first entry a newspace. (Here’s the secret. Shhhhhh. Just date your first entry far into the future and it will always stay the first entry.) When you first start a blog, consider doing a few things:

  • Choose a great name–either your wonderful name or something closely related to your writing.
  • Email everyone and their dog about your blog, letting them know how they can access it and giving them a quick tutorial about making comments.
  • If you don’t go with a higher end blog company (like Typepad where you have to pay), consider tinkering with the html on your free site. My blog is a free blogger account, but I’ve personalized it by changing font, color, adding graphics, etc.
  • Link, link, link. Link to other blogs that relate to yours. Ask others to link to you.
    Randy Ingermanson teaches a lot about this multiple linking approach as well as ways to create google traffic here. He calls his approach Tiger Marketing. Terry Whalin, fiction acquisitions editor for Howard Publishing, recently shared that you may get a free marketing book in an MP3 (listening) format. Go here for more details about Pyro Marketing. Both approaches use the power of the web to promote books.
  • But there are other ways to promote using the web. Fellow novelist Brad Whittington (Welcome to Fred series) and I did a tag-team interview at Terry Whalin’s Right Writing blog. (Highlighted is the first of four interviews in December of 2005). Also read Brad W’s and author Lisa Samson’s tag team interview here.
  • Being reviewed on other blogs is also a way to get the word out.I was surprised to already have found an early review up for Watching the Tree Limbs (NavPress, March release) on Gina Holme’s Novel Journey blog. Gina Holmes does a terrific job of promoting other fiction on this blog. She publishes a lot of reviews and interviews. (Read my interview here). This is a site you will want to bookmark. You can read my recent review here.
  • You can also be reviewed on Amazon and other online book merchants. You can see reviews for Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God here. An author can also answer some prescribed questions on about their book. You can see my “interview” here for Ordinary Mom.
  • Another innovation is a blog tour. Similar to a book tour (but without the luggage losing and the timezone gallivanting), bloggers interview authors on several sites over a series of days or weeks. Marilyn Griffith did this for her book Made of Honor. You can see the details of her blog tour here.

I’m still convinced, however, that Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, holds the magic key to marketing. Gladwell talks about how small things become movements, how an epidemic is created in our society. It comes from people to people communication. From word of mouth. I remember reading two different support raising books as we readied ourselves to go on the mission field.

One talked about targeting rich people, putting them on the top of your list and going for the gusto. The other book talked about relationship, about valuing people over what they can do for you. If you know me well enough, you know I gravitated toward the latter. In this crazy Christian publishing business, it’s about who you know, yes, but really it’s about how well you love those folks you know.

Do I love my reader? If I do, I’ll write words that bless, challenge, and comfort them? Do I love my friends? If I do, I won’t use them like multi-level marketing-pawns in my publishing empire. Do I love my contacts in the publishing industry? Then I will pursue relationship with them as God leads, not for the gain I’ll get from sales. When I stand before Jesus, He’s not going to drill me on how many sales I made, but in how faithful I was in loving the person He placed in front of me. I pray, pray, pray I am found faithful.