There is a tendency in this fast paced world to push to get to the finish line “quick and in a hurry”. Although this type “full speed ahead, eyes on the prize” race can often be mistaken as focused commitment, it really only garners us one thing for sure – a first place finish. And is a “first place finish” all we really expect from our efforts? When you stop to congratulate yourself on how fast you got to your destination and give yourself a pat on the back – bravo! – Also… stop to consider all that you might have missed on the journey.

When it comes to writing and books there is a deliberate process to get from one end to the other. “I want to write a book” becomes one of the most general statements a writer ever makes if one were to consider all the in between requirements. The hard work is certainly worth the effort; however, if publishing your book is a goal, then getting it out into the public is the destination. “I want to sell my book” becomes a serious consideration that must be viewed from a perspective grounded in reality.

It would be nice to be offered the huge advances “once upon a time” the norm in the publishing world. They still exist, and can happen – but the publishing world is changing and many authors are taking their books to the Internet with hopes of selling to the millions who patronize it on an hourly basis. But then again, so are thousands of other writers, perhaps millions, with the exact same thought. What seemed like an easy feat suddenly becomes a monumental monster. How do I expect anyone to find my book, let alone buy my book?

The use of social media has brought to the forefront of promotion the ability to reach markets you never thought possible. The Internet is your storefront and the world, your customer. The error in this thought is again back to the “quick and in a hurry” argument set above. If you think it is just that simple, you are going to be greatly disappointed. It takes time and it takes a committed effort – just like your writing. Online promotion and exposure is just another part of your writing life and you must take it seriously if you expect your work, and/or your book, to be taken seriously.

The Internet makes it economical to advertise your book, putting it out there quickly and effectively, if time is taken to create a profile of you and your work. Building your book brand involves building a following of those who love your work and who may be eventual ambassadors in its promotion. The process of following, liking, linking, commenting, posting – all of the social media buttons work in cooperation to bring attention to you. Be aware of too much self-promotion, however, as it can turn off potential followers and customers. Hard sell online is the same as the “in your face” salesman on the furniture floor or car lot. What do you usually do?

Kelly Robertson, Marketing Manager at 6S Marketing, in a recent Canadian Business Journal article, says to focus on building relationships first: “Many companies that use social media still insist on pushing their own content and do not focus on building relationships with their fans. They focus more on the hard sell and do not focus on the “soft sell”. This is the wrong theory behind social.” (Canadian Business Journal, March 2012)    

If you plan to build your book brand so that people recognize it, you need to consider building relationships to create a successful business. This not only means that your potential customers will recognize your current book, but they will come to recognize the values and integrity you represent in all your work. Social media outlets that are focused, considerate, informative, and “true to your creative spirit” will show the passion and commitment you exhibit in your writing. Be likeable if you want followers to “like” you. Sales will come in time as you build your platform and create a dedicated following. Best advice to reap the benefits of social media – take it easy, be smart, and enjoy the journey.

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