|Napoleon Dynamite: a marketing tool?
You never know.
When I first began this crazy self-publishing venture of proving there is a market for Jane Austen sequels that feature minor characters from her novels by selling 1,000 copies of Charlotte Collins, I knew I was going to have to learn about marketing, something that did not sound very appealing to me.
I had already purchased 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer, which was touted as the book marketing Bible. I found it to be helpful. It made plain the fact that even books published by traditional houses do not come with massive publisher-backed marketing campaigns (unless you are already a big name). This book taught me that no matter what, you have to market yourself, and it provided some very good ideas and time lines for effective marketing. This book espouses a fairly traditional marketing scheme involving print, TV, and radio ads as well as physical mailers and distribution. But as a self-published author, I just did not have the marketing budget to go this route. I’m glad I have the book though, and I refer to it often.
Then, my friend and a marketing guru in her own right Mandee Widrick, CEO of ChargedUp Media, suggested two books to me: Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, which is about using social media to share your passion with the world, and Twitter Power by Joel Comm, which is about how to use Twitter to market your products. These books helped steer me toward social media as a marketing opportunity, but more importantly, they taught me the importance of being true to myself while sharing my writing. Their messages were not, “sell, sell, sell” or “always be closing.” These books simply said, “Be yourself.”
When I decided to set up a blog, the idea of a Jane Austen-centered approach did not appeal to me. I love Jane Austen and I wrote a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but I wanted to be able to blog about whatever struck my fancy. But I’m sure many of visitors to Skidding in Sideways expected a more Regency-themed blog or at least more of an Austenesque look. But I took the risk of being true to myself and having more of an eclectic blog about things that interest me: word play, writing, books, horses, the occasional monster truck. And in a way, sharing myself is scarier than trying to sell a product.
But as the books said, if I am not true to myself and don’t act like myself online, people will be able to tell. In addition, I will quickly lose interest in blogging because I am not being authentic, and I will have effectively severed my connection with potential readers and friends. Social media is about people, not about the hard-sell. It’s about developing relationships and sharing common interests, even those not related to Charlotte Collins. And I have found this to be true.
My best online relationships have begun with discussions of horses or even the occasional tweet of a classic Napoleon Dynamite line. (Jane Austen likely knew a bit about our equid friends, but I doubt she ever met Napoleon. Gosh!) For me, building relationships has become more important that portraying myself as an Austen expert or sales force. But if you buy Charlotte Collins after reading this blog, I won’t complain.