Employing Social Media as a tool for building your brand and marketing your book is like racing a horse; it’s all about understanding the animal, the landscape, the competition and having the patience and timing to get there.
Understanding the animal is knowing everything there is to know about horses in general as well as specific. If you want your horse to win, you need to know the breed and you need to know your horse physically, mentally and emotionally – and what it will take to make him a winner.
The same is true for an author. In order for an author to be successful at marketing their work, they need to understand themselves first. That’s right. In an age where there is a plethora of how-to, should-do, must-do free and paid advise on building brands and marketing your book, it’s important that authors know their strengths as well as their weaknesses; what they are and are not willing to do to in order to get their books out there for the world to buy and read.
Understanding the landscape for a race horse means studying the terrain the animal will be running on and doing everything you can to prepare him for it. Some tracks are made of grass, some dry and others muddy. Knowing which one your horse runs on best can mean the difference between winning, getting lost in the pack or losing.
It’s no different for authors stepping out onto the landscape of social media. Just as not all tracks work for all horses, so not all venues of social media work for all writers. For instance, some authors don’t mind building/creating their own web-blog site, so they might choose WordPress or Blogspot (both drop and drag) rather than paying someone else to design and maintain a more individualized site for them. And when it comes to interacting with their readers, some may choose Twitter, with its short attention span and rapid regurgitation of information , over Face Book and its slower paced interactive visual capabilities. The point is, which ever landscape an author chooses, they just need to make sure its the one they work on best.
Understanding the competition in racing is all about knowing the other guy’s horse almost as well as you know your own. It’s not enough for an owner or a jockey to know their own horse and what he’ll do on any given track, they need to know same thing about every horse they’ll be competing against. What’s a weakness to one horse, may become the strength of another.
Utilizing social media to market your work successfully means knowing what the other guy is writing, blogging and tweeting about. It’s knowing your genre, what readers are looking for and what they are passing over – even if its free. It’s going to other author websites and studying the layout, joining forums and keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry and where its going. It’s reading another authors stuff (even if its crap), listening to their interviews and discovering how to leverage what you’ve learned to your advantage.
Having the patience to get there. Nothing is more critical to the success of any race horse than having an owner and jockey who understands patience and timing. A horse raced too soon will blow out a knee, develop shin splints or even break a leg. And even after he’s ready to race, the owner still waits for the right time and place, knowing winning is as much about picking the race as is it about running it.
Authors need to understand the importance of patience and timing as well. Just because you’ve finished your manuscript and think its ready to publish or market, doesn’t mean it is. And if it is ready, choosing the right time to launch and promote, is as important as all the other things you’ve done to get it here.
Whether your racing a horse or marketing you and/or your book, the challenges are still the same. In order to win an owner/author has to know the horse/themselves, know the terrain they’ll be running on, understand the competition and learn to appreciate the value of timing and patience. Those that learn those four things will set themselves up for the best chance of winning. Those that don’t? All I can say is, after all you’ve done to get here, do you really want to blow it now?