Marketing. It's starting to make me think of the quote we all know from The Princess Bride: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
OK, I am by no means a marketing expert. I'm barely a marketing amateur. But I'm an observer, and I've noticed that the definition of the word has grown by leaps and bounds in the world of authors. It now includes everything from our blogs and Facebook pages, to book signings and school visits, to press releases and newspaper interviews, to bookmarks and free online samples... There's also advertising and getting professional reviews. I'd even lump paying for bookstore shelf space (and Amazon newsletter space) in there, and cover art and title choice...and a whole slew of other things.
My point being: When an indie author is asked questions like, "When you hear the word 'marketing,' how does that make you feel?" as was asked on the Realm Makers Facebook page yesterday, the answer tends to be something along the lines of, "Like I've got a freight train heading straight at me." Each one of the cars of the train is filled with those things I mentioned in the above paragraph.
There was a time when authors had to "market" only in the sense of showing up for book events and meeting their fans. Blogging opened the door for connection online, as did Facebook and such, but now it's like, Oh, hey, since you're out there anyway, why don't you just.... And that's not really too bad.
Still, the big presses do way more. They are still setting up author events for the the authors (indies must book their own). They take care of landing those professional reviews (many of which indies have no chance of getting). They provide review copies for bloggers (as opposed to indies who have to provide those copies out of our own pockets). In other words, much of what the big presses do has nothing to do with author presence--it's behind the scenes.
The frustration I'm finding is that there are two sides to this issue, but they keep getting lumped together. And here is where that Princess Bride quote comes in.
Marketing in the personally-getting-in-front-of-readers sense is a totally different animal than the business side of marketing.
I am fine with the first. I like doing signings and author events. I like visiting with students at schools and meeting people at conventions. I was a teacher before taking up writing, so leading sessions at writers conferences and speaking at writers groups is something I actually enjoy.
It is the business end of it that makes me want to throw up. It's setting those events up, and trying to figure out how to increase my reach online, and studying social media numbers and SEO patterns and...and....
For other authors, it is the other way around. They are shy, introverted (I'm introverted but can go into extrovert mode when I put on my teacher hat) and they would rather focus on the behind-the-scenes stuff. Some of them are more business-minded and have no problem dealing with that end of things.
And yes...for some authors (a lot of them, actually) it's both that are problematic.
But my point is: The word "marketing" isn't so easy to define. It's meaning is different for different authors, depending on where their likes and dislikes, talents and weaknesses lie. It's meaning can also vary depending on how the author is published, and who the author's audience is. Yet most of us use it as this catch-all word, and therefore many discussions about marketing and its importance and what authors do/don't or can/can't do end up with everyone talking in circles around each other.
So--what does marketing mean to you?