Posted by: mygentlecloud | August 29, 2011

On the Digital Marketing trail

It’s truly a brave new world for authors and writers alike. The Berlin wall of publishing is crumbling. New bridges through social media and technology have sprung up, linking the populations on both sides of the wall to the extent that  each can almost see the other face-to-face. There has never been a better time for us authors and readers alike.

During my three odd months hiatus from work, I had the luxury of diving into our wonderful worldwide web to explore the latest trends and ideas in the writing & publishing community. The journey has been mindblowing, to say the least. The huge movement in social media and its ecosystem has taken on a life of its own. People are learning to use it to make things happen for them in the most ingenuous ways, paving the way for others to learn and follow.

I am taking my baby steps in this area. Here they are, along with some To-Dos.

Twitter : I liken this to standing in a small empty field and shouting out short messages to the world, and hoping that there would be people with the right receptacles to listen and reply. Over time, one would be able to build a network of like-minded people who can then exchange tweets with you. I started out on my campaign trail by targeting teenagers as a potential market for my novel Through The Storm. Using Justin Bieber as the icon which teenagers would latch onto, I started to follow twitterers who have a hashtag on Bieber. I expanded this to include hashtags with the word teens in them. Then, getting a brainwave, I searched for my favourite authors such as Nora Roberts, Laura Kinsale, Diana Gabaldon etc and followed them as well as their followers, the rationale being that these followers would then follow me back. Following the followers of great authors is a daunting exercise. Unless I’ve missed out some wonderful tool to do a mass-follow, it is time consuming and not very accurate a strategy to use. I ended up with readers as well as authors, publishers (both indie and traditional), reviewers, consultants, editors and a host of others. I kept track of the statistics. Todate, I am following 719 Twitterers and have 318 followers. Besides follow-backs which account for about 70% of my followers, I find a correlation between the additional followers with the number of tweets I made. I will continue to tweet story-related stuff to garner more followers and follow-through with snippets of my book video trailers.

Website : I finally invested time and a bit of money in building my website. I’ve used Tripod and Googlepages before, but didn’t like their names used as a suffix in my URL. Therefore, I bought the domain name, signed up with a web hosting service provider and used their tools to build my website. New gadgets which I don’t recall seeing in Tripod and Googlepages include RSS feeds to beef up my content, forums for interaction with the visitors, blogs (again for more content), and also a storefront. I have yet to operationalise these smoothly but will find time to do so soon. Likewise, peppering my pages with words and tags to embrace search-engine optimization is still on my list of To-Dos.

Facebook : I’ve found music icons to have led the way in tapping onto Facebook as their alternate website or storefront. Eminem is one good example, though I have to qualify that I don’t subscribe to his kind of music.  If you check Eminem’s FB page to study how his marketing team does it, you’ll find the normal FB wall posts which works similarly to that of a forum. There’s an information page which is the equivalent of Profile which we normally post on our website. There’s also a section called “Music Videos” where the videos posted on Youtube can be played on the FB page itself.  These videos are easily navigated through Next and Previous buttons.  There is an option to Share the page on Facebook, improving publicity. There is also an option to Buy The Song on iTunes or Amazon, two of the same channels authors use. So, for authors, book video trailers can be posted on our FB page and the option for visitors to buy our books added. I am not sure about the cost of creating such a page. I have not explored how it is done yet. If there are readers here who have, please share this with me.

Youtube : This has become the defacto place for posting videos. There are ways to cluster the videos together so that the momentum of the marketing blitz is maintained. Unlike movie trailers where snippets can be stitched together without too much additional investment, book videos seldom have the luxury of such good quality animation or action snippets. Those I’ve seen fall back on using photos, written text on screen, overlaid with music and audio readings to serve its purpose.  I’ve outsourced four snippets of a trailer for Through The Storm to an animator, and the results, after many iterations, came out okay … after nine months, the time it takes to birth a child! At times like this, I chafe at the time required to do marketing when I should be writing. But for indie writers like me, we have very little option, other than not to market our works at all.  And from what I’ve heard, even traditional publishers would require their authors to market their own books. So, it is a necessary evil, whichever way you look at it. You can view this video on my website. Try not to laugh, please 🙂

Blogs : Aside from penning our own blogs and participating in online forums on related topics, there is also this new movement called blog tours which writers now use to drive awareness and interest for their books. This involves penning blogs for the characters in their book as a way to make them more personal and real to the reader. I have never tried it, but a talented writer I know is doing that right now. I will link up with him after the blog tour to get more insight into the thinking that goes behind it and the traction it gets.

Mobile Apps : These are the rage now. Latest research suggest that people will be using more apps and less mobile browsers to browse the net. However, creating a mobile application can be very time-consuming and expensive, which is why a lot of bloggers and blog sites don’t bother coming out with a mobile app of their own. Not any more – Bloapp( is a free web tool that helps convert blogs into a native iPhone app in less than five minutes. And the best part? It’s free to use.  For more information on this, check out the following post: I will try it out right after this post.

Indie publishers : No longer is independent publishing priced out of some authors’ reach. These days, at least two avenues have opened up for self-service publishing on the web. One is through Kindle Direct Publishing which allows an author to load the softcopy of their book into the system and the e-book version on Kindle is made available almost the next day. The Kindle version is downloadable onto iBook and Nook format for more flexibility for the reader. The other free avenue – for now, at least –  is via Smashwords which has a snazzy tool to allow the softcopy of a book to be made available, with a nicely linked index, on Kindle, iBook, epub and pdf format. I remembered used to be such a free service provider but for printed versions of the book. They have since tagged a price for their service and may be losing out to their e-book publishing competitors.

And the digital march goes on. I remembered how skeptical I was to the idea of SMS when it was first introduced some ten years ago. Foremost on my mind was the question of why people would painstakingly key in words into the phone instead of just dialling and speaking to the person. I guess I did not stretch my imagination then on its potential and the new needs they met. I will keep my mind open now and see what this brave new world has in store for me.

Su Yin



  1. […] link: On the Digital Marketing trail Categories: Epub Tags: Berlin, both-sides, brave-new, bridges-through, extent, […]

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