What Is An Effective Marketing Strategy Anyway?
When Bad Redhead Media’s Rachel Thompson reached out to me to write a post about promoting and marketing my books, my immediate thought was is she kidding? I have been an avid follower and fan of Rachel for nearly a decade, trying to emulate her badass self-publishing skills and as much of her marketing expertise as I could.
Luckily for me, Rachel is both a friend and respected colleague who willingly shares her pixie dust book magic and marketing strategies through BadRedhead Media, where many of her tips and tricks are free.
When I finished the manuscript for my third novel, The Red Bench, and began hyperventilating, I knew I needed guidance. I turn into a toddler when it comes to all things promotion and marketing related. I reached out inquiring about a possible formatting contact, and Rachel kindly suggested Barb Drozdowich, from Bakerview Consulting, a wizard who turned my pulp fiction into an exquisitely formatted memoir.
I never quite understood what Rachel said over and over about the author is a brand, not the book until the release of The Red Bench, and the importance of building social media relationships, engaging, interacting, and not solely about your book. I had tried countless promos in the past with The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine. I used Freebooksy, BookBub, Amazon Giveways, MailChimp, BookMarketing Tools—all with moderate success, yet becoming more and more frustrated.
Book Marketing Is More Than Just Selling
Until one day I decided I needed a new approach. I became more involved with the creative arts by creating and teaching a class called Heartstrings: A Woman’s Writing Workshop hosted by Auburn Public Theater. I attended different events within my own community, supported local businesses online and in person, visited the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center, and continued to go to the gym and take yoga classes. By becoming more active, and not solely focused on “buy my book” related activities, I became more involved and more visible to my audience.
I am an unconventional writer with a unique story, so why not incorporate a little guerilla marketing (which I’m more comfortable with anyway)? And that’s when I finally got it—ding, ding, ding!—like a light bulb.
I finally understood what Rachel had been saying all along: The author is the brand, not the book.
Writing is not a sprint, and promotion along with self-publishing is part of a mental triathlon, and certainly not for everyone.
I have enjoyed success as a writer, guest blogger, published author, poet, essayist, a columnist for Feminine Collective, and mental health advocate with a visible, positive social media platform for years. I reside in a supportive, community where friends and even old friends who’ve moved away remain connected to their roots and childhood memories on social media. I receive countless private messages from friends and strangers, expressing their gratitude and respect for my speaking out about mental health issues and for using my voice to speak the truth.
Even though I left my community at eighteen, I was welcomed back with compassion and support. When I wrote my first book, The Vast Landscape, and the second, Georgia Pine, the town showed up. It’s not every day a young girl leaves home, has a successful career for two decades as an international model, comes back and writes books. Friends, members of the community showed up, even if I was a promotion/marketing newbie learning the ropes.
Even my love/hate relationship for all things related to self-promotion regarding my former international model career can be tricky. (I’m not a fan of the Kardashian- style of celebrity phenomena overload).
Authenticity Is a Big Part of Book Marketing
I have always tended to downplay my modeling career, but the release of The Red Bench is the release of my whole story, the good, bad and very ugly. I decided to embrace it. Radical acceptance is my watchword for 2019. When a media whiz from my town related to my story and contacted me, that became my winning promo strategy. Perhaps they had their own mental health battle or was just a good person, yet another Rachel Thompson who just wanted to help. I can’t say.
Regardless, I am grateful, and this is an important story with a purpose: to help others feel less stigmatized and alone.
Before I knew it, I was booked on Bridge Street ChannelNews9, had feature interviews with newspapers lined up, a forthcoming author interview with Spectrum News, and speaking engagements. It’s been a whirlwind, which I could not have accomplished without all the invaluable promo skills, marketing tools and knowledge Bad Redhead Media imparted over the years. Through it all, I still incorporate traditional marketing and am always learning from the masters.
My memoir, my story is set in the place where I grew up, where my parents grew up, and where I can walk across the street into my neighbor’s house. The door is wide-open, and there is a fresh pot of coffee. There is so much to be said for real talk conversation in an overly stimulated and fast-paced world. Human connection is a winning market strategy.
The Red Bench has deep-seated roots where my people, the lovely people who knew me before fame, and who loved me after nervous breakdowns, are the same who watch me battle mental illness as gracefully as I can, are proud. They are genuinely happy to help, to share, and buy my book, (which debuted on Amazon in Bipolar Disorder at #1, are you kidding?!) excited and proud of one of their own.
Sharing with friends, connections, and neighbors simply because everyone loves a Rocky story. A story of surmounting invisible odds, of survival, grit, and hope written by a humble, hometown gal.
Writing my deepest truth has been my most effective promotional tour and marketing strategy, creating a snowball effect of kindness.
And that is relatable to all.
In The Red Bench, Jacqueline Cioffa provides a raw, real and painfully honest description of her battles with bipolar disorder. As a clinical psychologist, I have had years of experience as a mental health provider and as an advocate. I can say with assurance that The Red Bench is perhaps the most eloquent first-person account of mental illness I have ever read. Cioffa's narrative is both lyrical and disturbing, showing the full burden of her struggle, while also offering hope and inspiration for brighter days to come.
David T. Susman, PhD
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