I’m here undercover.
Lee Lofland thinks he invited me over to do a guest stint on his blog. What I’m really doing is getting to know you, his readers, and worming my way into your good graces. Why? Cause I just sold a book about female police officers and when it comes out next year my author is going to be promoting it to police officers, former police officers and people interested in reading about them.
So why am I here a year early? Those who know me might say cause it takes a year for anyone to think I’m charming or a year to not think I’m a sarcastic (um…Lee…can I say bitch on your blog??) but that’s only half the answer.
Blogging is just a new form of word of mouth, and building relationships for effective word of mouth, in the blogosphere as elsewhere, takes time. There are no shortcuts. There aren’t lists of big time bloggers, with their email addresses, and the kinds of things they like to hear about. Newp. This is research one click at a time. Blogroll after blogroll. Thank god for bookmarks and RSS feeds to help keep track of things but it’s still tedious work.
Tedious, but essential. I believe the day of the physical book tour is coming to an end. With the high price of gas, authors spend even more money on what was largely building good will rather than one which sold a lot of books. Fewer authors are willing to do that. Fewer publishers are willing to pay for it. That makes sense from their point of view of course, but it makes promotion and visibility all that much harder.
Word of mouth marketing online is going to do nothing but grow. It’s not going to grow through social networks like Facebook or MySpace either. Those are so sprawling, and devoid of useful content and so clearly self-serving that, as a marketing ploy, they are basically useless. Effective online marketing is through blogs like this. Lee provides interesting content – content we come back to read daily or weekly. When/if Lee finds a book he likes and wants to talk about, and mentions it on his blog, I’ll see it. I’ll pay attention to it because Lee is someone I like, and read. He’s an effective advocate because I have the sense I know him by reading his blog.
If I see a book once on Lee’s blog, that will be nice. But if I see the book again on three other blogs, then I’ll start to remember. Market research tells us that consumers need to see something 12 times before the image “sticks.”
As an author, what that means is that you have to start early. Get to know bloggers in your area. Not geographical area (although that is another good place too) but in your area of writing. If you’re writing about cops, you check out cop blogs. Like this one. And you read it regularly. You offer a comment periodically so your email address or posting name gets known. You become part of a community essentially.
The trick is that it takes time. You can’t just barrel in and announce you’re everyone’s friend and aren’t they lucky you have a book out now for everyone to buy. Well, you could. But I’m trying to be effective, not stupid. I get those emails a lot from people. I routinely delete them without reply. Every other blogger I talk to does the same thing. I see those kinds of posts on listservs I belong to, and I skim right over it as the ineffective mention that it is.
The books I do mention on my blog, are by people I know, and like, and want to promote. The books I do notice on listservs are those talked about by actual readers as books they liked (or sometimes didn’t–I am always intrigued when people rant about a book.)
I firmly believe this is the marketing template of the future. And not just for authors at small publishers, for ALL authors.
And now, back to my clever surveillance plan.
*Janet Reid is a literary agent a literary agent with FinePrint Literary Management in New York City. She specializes in crime fiction. You can vist her at http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/