Saturday 22 November 2014

Going A.P.E. (Part I) - Lessons from Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur (Kawasaki, Welch)

I think I can write.

For me, as with most of the writers I know, the larger challenge is marketing. This is especially true for self-published authors, like me. The sheer number of venues for sharing work and developing professional writing relationships is as daunting as the number of books that flood the market each year.

Where should we target our efforts? How should we portion our time? And after that debut novel launches, when will we ever get to write again?

I am most of the way through A.P.E.: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. It's probably the most popular reference to online guerrilla marketing and proof, in itself, that it works. Many think that it's dated. But, given the pace of change on social media, what printed text could ever be up to date? Twenty-seven seconds after you publish, Facebook is sure to make a change to the platform. (I'll bet they are making one right now.)

A.P.E. is still a very relevant social media marketing primer. I truly recommend it for anyone entering the marketing fray. (By the way, a free ebook copy is available in exchange for your email address from several sources, including the A.P.E. homepage.)

After reading most of it, I wrote a list of venues where I should start focusing effort. If I take Shawn's and Guy's advice to heart, then I should at the least...

1) maintain a blog. CHECK!

2) maintain a Facebook page. CHECK!

3) maintain a Google+ page. CHECK!

4) be active on Twitter. (The most aptly named application on earth.) CHECK!

5) maintain a PInterest account. CHECK!

6) contribute to Kindle Boards discussions. CHECK!

7) Contribute to Goodreads discussions. CHECK!

8) compose an email list from contacts made in these other venues. CHECK! (Current number of entries: zero.)

The A.P.E. authors suggest posting 5-8 times on each of the social media platforms, each day. In the case of Twitter they say to post the same things 4 times, 8-hours apart because Twitter feeds just fly by and that's the way to maximize your exposure. Good idea. Also, they mention the obvious, which is to post while people are awake. Most people can't keep up with their news feeds and habitually skip all the things that happened while they slept.

I now have accounts on all of the above social media platforms and given the numbers I see (following/followers/posts/tweets), I have come to the conclusion that this marketing strategy is, basically, to spam.

The ideal that drives this is for you to generate quality content that people will find helpful. It doesn't matter if it's seen by writers or readers or lactose-intolerant, gum-chewing milk maids, if you can reach them and they like your content, then they will spread the word and you will eventually reach the almighty Buyer.

But few of us can devote 12 hours a day to this. And from what I've seen, the effective upshot is a bunch of authors, severely limited in time, grabbing content as it flies by, re-branding it and spamming the world.

In the end, there remains one inescapable truth: not everyone can become ranked number 1 on Google. If they could, Google would be useless. From this, I infer that every method of online marketing will work for some and not others. As with every other method, success may never come; but if it does, it will involve hard work, long hours and perseverance.

I further infer that the major business in writing/marketing/show biz is the business of advising, coaxing and bolstering fellow artists; the other dreamers. You want an easier path to real money? Then join that crowd. Write about the marketing of writing.

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