by Lauren Sapala
I’ve launched three different books in the past couple years and I’ve definitely noticed a pattern. Every time I go into “launch mode” I tend to also go into “marketing frenzy,” which means I’m frantically researching, emailing, posting, and overthinking about my book of the moment. My main drug of choice to support the frenzy is the internet. Because no matter what question I might have, the online world seems to have the answers.
Well, this is true. Sometimes. But at other times—a lot of other times—my overthinking is only made worse by reading around on what I “should” be doing to market my book.
That’s the operative word: should. Whenever I’m in my marketing frenzy state I almost always end up feeling like crap. Because after I do so much research it seems like I should be doing a bunch of stuff that I’m not doing. Like, I should have a fail-safe, perfect-and-polished marketing plan in place. I should have glamorous connections in the PR world. I should have a blurb, a description, a hook in my opening paragraph, and a first page that will be guaranteed to attract every reader in the world.
After considering all those shoulds I usually end up feeling tired and defeated, and ready to give up on marketing all over again. Why can’t I just write my novels in a little cabin in the woods and hire the magical marketing fairy to do that piece of the process for me?
Now, if you’re a writer at pretty much any stage of the game, you are probably aware that the magical marketing fairy doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t change the fact that you hate marketing. However, in my experience this is the key to every writer’s personal growth and development. Because, the thing is, you don’t really hate marketing. What you really hate is the way your thoughts about marketing make youfeel, which is yucky and uninspired and discouraged.
But there is a solution.
When we jump online and go careening around every writing and publishing site desperately trying to sniff out the marketing strategies that actually work, the stuff we need to know and the approach we’ll want to take, we’re missing something very important. Our book is not for everyone, and so our marketing strategy shouldn’t be either.
This means that, just as we’ve accepted that our YA time travel fantasy is going to appeal to a specific audience and probably not appeal to others, we also need to accept that there is no one marketing strategy or set of strategies that will work equally well for every book. Some books are aimed at audiences with a huge presence on social media, while some books might appeal to a more obscure group that tends to shy away from Facebook and Twitter. Some books might lend themselves particularly well to being a political book club choice for members to discuss, while others would do the best being featured at a local comic shop.
It’s easy to do a bunch of online research and come away with the idea that you have to market in a certain way, or that authors have very limited options when it comes to getting their book out there. But nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that we live in a world that offers countless possibilities to independent artists and it doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert, or you dropped out of school, or you’ve just never been great at figuring out the business side of things. Everything can be figured out. Everything can be learned, and experimented with, and tweaked over time. The biggest roadblock you’re going to come across is not some imagined limitation that you think you have when it comes to marketing, instead, it will be your own resistance to diving into something new and taking risks in the face of uncertainty.
That’s really where the block is for writers with marketing. It’s not that we should be doing this or we should be doing that and we don’t know how to do any of it. The real block is fear. Most of us are afraid of exploring territory that is totally unknown, and we get very nervous when we have no idea what to expect. What if it doesn’t work? What if I make a fool of myself? What if my big idea falls flat? Every one of us is hounded by these unpleasant kinds of questions at one point or another in the journey.
But we have to keep going, because it’s only by forging ahead on our own unique path that we’re going to get anywhere.
That means taking the risk and resolving to learn something new, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. That means figuring out our own unique marketing strategy based on our own unique book and doing what feels right to us in our gut and our heart and our mind, no matter what anyone else says about how we should be doing things.
Yes, it will be hard sometimes. No, there is no easy way out of it. But if you’ve come this far and you know now that your book has a life and a personality of its own, and that there ARE readers out there who are compatible with your story, then you also know that you can apply this same truth to your marketing strategy.
You do you, in both your writing AND your marketing, and the path forward will be a lot more fun.
Lauren Sapala is the author of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers, a guide to help any HSP, INFJ, INFP, or introvert writer move past resistance to selling and marketing their work. She is also the author of The INFJ Writer, a writing guide made specifically for sensitive intuitive writers.