The Power of Promotion

For those of you who tuned into the site yesterday, you would have noticed a strange message. In it I appeared to be talking about NanoWriMo only to have a weird “hacker” type message appear. This was not a mistake. I had actually volunteered to participate in JC Hutchins’ promotional campaign for his “7th Son, Descent” book launch yesterday.

The premise was as follows: one of JC’s characters in “7th Son” is a world-class computer hacker. Wouldn’t it be fun if several sites were “hacked” by the character for promotional purposes? The same idea was carried out on Twitter too.

JC has always had innovative promotional ideas and I take notes every time he comes up with something new. Promotion is intended to create a buzz, but JC goes one step further. He gets people involved to the extent that they become an integral part of the promotion itself. I think that is where the secret of marketing yourself lies.

Take, for example, a book signing. That is a promotional thing but how often do you see authors sitting at a table in the bookstore twiddling their thumbs, alone? Surely they get a few people to stop by, but when you compare those few against the overall time, it appears that no one comes. What if you could get those few people to help you get bigger numbers? What if you did something to incent them to bring friends, family and even total strangers to the event? Do you think that might increase your sales?

The problem I see with promotion and marketing is actually getting people to be aware of it. If you do a huge newspaper advertisement along with radio and television spots you will reach a lot of people. Are they the right people? Who knows, but one thing is certain, you will be paying more money than you will likely ever recover.

If you restrict yourself to online promotion (i.e. Twitter, Facebook and blogs) you are more likely to hit the target audience, but only the people who know about you will see what’s going on. What JC has done is take his existing online community and created a “Street Team” who actively evangelizes his work. Yes there are incentives (non-monetary) to do so but you would never get rich doing it. What you are able to do is become a part of something bigger. By utilizing his community and getting them pounding the pavement, so to speak, JC really gets the best of both worlds. He gets a targeted, broadly sweeping campaign that (I believe) paid off handsomely for him.

So what is the “right” way to do it? I don’t think there is any magic bullet. You, as a writer, need to do the traditional things like readings and signings. The challenge is to do them in non-traditional ways. You also need to use every resource available to you: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, podcasts and so on to spread the word.

I know I’m inspired. Now I need a book to evangelize. ­čÖé Getting a book published will have to be my next step. Now get out there and innovate.

Personal Update

Frenzied. That single word really defines my life the past couple months. I work full-time, have a two-night-a-week-minimum commitment to Scouts and I’ve been editing like crazy to meet a self-imposed October 31 editing deadline. That doesn’t even take into account the podcast work I do and family time (of which there is not enough). Yup, frenzied is the word.

The editing is going well and I still think I can hit the October 31 deadline. Why October 31, you ask? Well, the following day is the start of NanoWriMo. I don’t want the two to interfere with each other any more than they have to.

I still have to do some outlining for Nano (although I now doubt that I’ll get as much done as I wanted) and I have a podcast to record and produce this week so I won’t have much time for anything else. (Sigh) Such is the life, I suppose. I was reminded today┬áthat I’m working towards a┬á big payoff (publication) which will make it all worthwhile. Oh yes, it will. That’s when I’ll have to put what I’ve learned about promotion into play.

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