THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Being the social media slut that I am, I’m on LinkedIn. But if you were to ask me what LinkedIn was, being the woefully inadequate social media slut that I am, I’d tell you to Google it. I do, however, appreciate the writerly discussions on LinkedIn, specifically about marketing, because imo, writers are the most clueless when it comes to marketing their own work.

Example: I manage social media for an insurance company. I can come up with numerous relevant Facebook posts for them like there’s no tomorrow. My own author page however, consists of sporadic postings involving photos of half-naked men, quotes I’ve sucked off of other writers, and inane comments like, “Am eating my son’s gummy bear vitamins to satisfy a desperate sugar craving.”

One author on LinkedIn started this discussion: “There are a gazillion people with books out there. How does one stand out?” Everyone regurgitates the same old crap about how to market one’s book. She wanted to hear original ideas, crazy ideas, ideas that were outside the box.

When I think outside the box on how to market my book, it almost always involves something deviant or sexual—like, Hmm, if I do something to get arrested, I can give a shout-out about my book while being taken away in handcuffs, or Hmm, I can make a sex tape and somehow incorporate the reciting of passages from my book.

Another author on LinkedIn suggested standing on the street while naked between two sandwich boards advertising her book, so I’m not the only twisted one thinking along those lines. The problem is any idea involving sex isn’t all that original. The other folks who responded wrote about the same tried and true tactics we’ve all heard over and over again: hard work, luck, book trailers, door-to-door fliers, signings, writing crappy fan fiction without any knowledge of basic grammar. (Okay, maybe not the last one.)

Think outside the box.

The problem with cats is they think too much inside the box:

Kitty in box
They may attempt to venture outside the box:

Almost out

But mostly they remain inside the box, thinking of ways to kill you in your sleep:

PLOT KILL

Casting Charlize Theron in Monster was thinking outside the box. Gilbert Gottfried reading Fifty Shades of Grey? Pure fucking gold, as well as also thinking outside the box. James Redfield sold over 80,000 copies of his self-published book, The Celestine Prophecy from the trunk of his Honda. John Grisham who wrote A Time to Kill? He traveled around the South selling that baby from the trunk of his car, too.

This concept of thinking outside the box consumed me all week. I’m an Aquarian. I’m supposed to be unconventional and original. It should come naturally for me to think outside the box.

Sometimes I succeed at thinking outside the box in other areas of my life. Because I can’t afford to go on vacation, I vacation through beer. Sampling beer from different countries allows me to visit places without ever having to be strip searched or robbed by gypsy children. Now when anyone asks me whether I’ve gone away lately, I can tell them Denmark, for example, adding, “And their Doppelbock really knocked me on my ass.” I consider that thinking outside the box.

lottsa beer

lottsa beer

Since my first book, The Accidental Cougar is a romance between an older woman (41) and a younger man (25), I’m constantly wondering: Where does my target audience hang out? I’m a middle-aged woman, but the only place I hang out is the grocery store. I don’t really feel like standing outside the supermarket selling my book like the Girl Scouts’ sell their cookies.

So I went onto Facebook and searched “Cougar” sites and found one with thousands of followers. Now granted, most of the followers are probably men trolling for what they hope are horny, touch-starved cougars, but women over the age of 35 are invited to submit their photo for posting on the site. Special preference is given to those wearing this T-shirt: THE COUGAR CLUB

I don’t know what you’re thinking, but singlewritermom thinks she should pole vault outside that box right onto that FB page. All I would need to do is put on my Victoria’s Secret Miracle Bra, aka Wishful Thinking Bra, aka Fooled You Bra, the Cougar T-shirt, some lipstick, and with a genuine smile, pose with my book. They’ll post it, all the cougar women will see it, buy my book, and I’ll be instantly catapulted to Amazon Bestsellerdom.

OR

I could take Dean Wesley Smith’s advice and stop wasting my time on social media, focusing instead on writing my next book.

What do you think?

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Menopausal Mother
    Apr 23, 2013 @ 17:35:09

    Both!!! You just have to learn to go without much sleep and drink gallons of coffee daily. Start writing your next awesome novel and try to devote maybe an hour or so a day to putting yourself out there via social media. Hey, you are way ahead of me–my manuscript is still collecting dust in a drawer because I’m too busy blogging and face booking. I’m on Linked In but here is my mom confession–I have NO CLUE how to use it to my advantage. Grab that damn t-shirt and a tube of red lipstick…and you’ll do just fine!

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      Apr 24, 2013 @ 10:23:43

      If I could figure out how to hook myself up to a coffee IV, I would! See, you’re doing it all the right way, MM. You are cultivating a gazillion followers on your blog and FB so that when you have your book published…Voila! A built-in audience already. That’s the way to do it, imo.

      Reply

  2. Cie
    Apr 23, 2013 @ 17:53:38

    Well, I really want to read the next book, but I wouldn’t miss that photo for the world. You’ll just have to do both.

    Reply

  3. Jen Anderson
    Apr 24, 2013 @ 06:51:34

    I vote both! Plus targeted Facebook ads–there’s a blog called Make a Living Writing that recently had a post about them. And something with book clubs–do Skype visits with book clubs who buy your book and that’s 5-10 books sold right there.

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      Apr 24, 2013 @ 10:28:50

      I’ve always wondered how well the FB ads work. I’ll have to look into it more. And yes, I’ll be doing a Skype visit with a book club in June, but only because a friend of mine recommended the book to her club. So as for getting an in with a book club where I don’t know anyone? Hmmm, I’ll have to think outside the box on how to do that. (Cougar book clubs?)

      I’ll check out that blog you recommended. Thanks!

      Reply

  4. Jen Anderson
    Apr 24, 2013 @ 14:18:55

    Actually, at least according to that one article I read, you can spend $10 over several days, and target your ads very specifically – to fans of a certain author, for example, so you can reach people more likely to buy your book. It’s possible that the author was using the wrong terminology and they were referring to promoting posts rather than ads.

    Reply

  5. Damien
    Apr 28, 2013 @ 01:00:23

    Boy, do I commiserate with this! I was thinking of getting this post tattooed on my ass, but then I realized I’d need an ass you could land a helicopter on to fit it all, so I figured I’d just write about my commiseration.

    Marketing is such an enormous pain; I have commented before that it’s harder than writing the damn book was. I do have lots of ideas on this front – keep blogging, keep doing cool things to write about (in other words: live a little!) and keep involved with your readers and blogging community.

    Most importantly, I think, is write write write! The more you write, the more ideas you have for things to write about. The more you write, the more publishable quality work you produce. Mix it up, do a day trip to a local spot and try to pitch to a travel magazine, write a funny essay about sex or dating and try to pitch to an online women’s mag (there are trillions). Every time people see your name and they enjoy the writing that comes along with it, your audience grows. So keep writing and have fun with it! That could be the box outside of which you are thinking.

    Moreover, remember that often times a writer doesn’t catch on with a broad audience til their second or third book. Look at Grisham and Joe Hill. These guys would tell you to keep in touch with your audience and write.

    But, that all being said, I don’t think it would kill anyone if you took some pictures of yourself wearing the happy booby bra, glasses and sombrero while typing away at your computer. Uh…hypothetically. This guy (link below) has some good insights into expanding your audience.
    http://chrisguillebeau.com/

    Reply

    • Tiffany N. York
      Apr 29, 2013 @ 16:01:14

      You make excellent points. Truthfully, I prefer the “hare” approach–a slow build with ultimately, a large backlist in the end. Writing and submitting to women’s mags is probably the best thing I could do to promote my writing, being that I write contemporary. However, that in itself is a learned skill so different from novel writing. As are short stories, and novellas, etc. I’m just learning how to use Facebook properly and already I’m overwhelmed. My monkey mind goes in 20 different directions all the time. I think, Ok, I have to work on editing my novel today, but first I need to post on social media and, oh look–someone posted an article about Facebook and Twitter I might find interesting, and that link takes me to another link. I am then convinced FB and Twitter are where a writer must cultivate a following. Then I may check out the various writers forums I’m on to keep up with everyone’s news and rah-rah them on, but oh wait, another article to look at: The Importance of a Blog, and after reading, I’m convinced blogs are extremely necessary to build a following. But then there’s this interview with a well-known author who swears by offering free novellas in order to bring attention to the book she’s coming out with, so I’m convinced I need to write a novella to build a following, but in the meantime I Google: “My wife got fat and I don’t want to have sex with her” just because…

      There went my entire morning, and I’m no closer to knowing what the hell I need to do for myself. (Except for the little voice in my head, whispering, “Disconnect the Internet.”)

      Thanks for the link, btw.

      Reply

  6. ubezpieczenia grupowowe
    May 02, 2013 @ 18:31:28

    Greats comments and site.

    Reply

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