If one was to ask some of the most successful self-publishing authors what it takes to become an effective marketer, a good number would say they learned from on-the-job training. The creativity that transformed their labor of love from pen to paper is a valuable resource many found could easily be repurposed - to market their voice to a targeted audience. As a result, the happy accident that often occurs allows those that are green, greener pastures.
Market as far as your imagination takes you...
It's often a self-published writer's passion that becomes the driver, fueled by their creative juices. What traditional publisher's marketing tactics could possibly match the imagination displayed by one self-publishing author who hosted an "Ask Me Anything" session on the popular social news website Reddit -- for 12 hours straight. Yet such was the case for Hugh Howey and his post-apocalyptic best-selling thriller series Wool. He not only sold the film rights to "Alien" film producer Ridley Scott [with the early hype comparing it to the Hunger-Games-on-steroids], but also kept his e-book rights when he negotiated with Simon and Schuster.
It's all in the brand...
Branding is something indy authors have embraced and made their own. Mulling over a crime-thriller book for almost a decade transitioned mild-manner magazine editor Robert Bidinotto at the ripe young age of 60 into a "Vigilante Author." Creator of HUNTER, A Thriller, he made the "Top 25 on the Kindle Bestseller" list shortly after it was released in 2010. "Since my novel is about a mysterious vigilante hero, I decided that my brand would be 'The Vigilante Author,' said Bidinotto, and then used that positioning to distinguish himself and his book from others in his genre. His 21st Century 'noir' hero is also self-reflective and philosophical - two additional traits that set the author and lead character apart from the pack.
Travel the Yellow Brick Road less traveled. . .
Author, Actor Felicia Ricci took inexperience to another level, as she not only penned an intensely personal memoir, titled, Unnaturally Green, but also chose wisely to use the concept of "greenness" as a branding iron to impress her audience. From peddling software in NYC to understudying for the lead role of Elphaba, in Wicked, the musical, "I explored the idea of 'greenness' - of being unseasoned (on the stage) and with my inaugural self-publishing experience," notes Ricci. "To me, Unnaturally Green needed to seem of the same world — not endorsed by Wicked, but just as worthy of attention." So, despite her budget ($0) and lack of a publishing house's marketing manpower, this savvy marketer generated buzz via mailing lists, blogs, social networking, book trailers, polls and YouTube videos, including singing tips on how to belt "Wicked" songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7vWs8nrg0s
Passing the torch. . .
Another one of Ricci's marketing initiatives included a writing contest for her fans to send their stories about the introspective moments in their lives when they also felt "green" - again, an opportunity for the author to reinforce her "greeness" brand. The Grand Prize winner received a signed, personalized copy of Ricci's book, a $25 Amazon gift certificate and an acknowledgement on the her blog. "The winner was a spitfire of a woman named Bettie Lavin who wrote about her first time parachuting, many decades into her life (she didn't divulge her actual age, but she did self-describe herself as being "older than dirt")," stated Ricci. "As for her writing: I felt her entry had just the right blend of levity, suspense and self-awareness. It was thrilling to see the concept of green-ness expressed in a narrative so different from my own. In this way, the contest served not only to involve readers and foster interesting storytelling, but to show that the core theme of Unnaturally Green wasn't just theater-specific, but was universal," added Ricci.
More to come. . .
This is the first part of a two-part series that highlights real-life experiences of budding self-publishing authors and their first attempt at marketing their work. The novice who works outside of the legacy boundaries of traditional publishing is learning as he or she goes. And in so doing, these authors are gaining control over all aspects of their work. One's creativity gene is being used to not only produce the best book an author can offer up, but it's also a catalyst for their greenness to blossom into something their targeted audiences are eager to see more of. "It's getting easier being green," no matter what that little green frog has been trying to sell us all these years!