Why Indie Writers Market Better and What You Can Learn from Them

TV HeadIf you’re a Gen X, Gen Y, or even one of the Baby Boomers, you grew up surrounded by traditional advertising. And chances are, you can’t stand it. That’s because traditional advertisers use a very simple formula that most artists find to be a huge turn off. They push one agenda (buy our product) and try to blanket the biggest population they can with it using the power of persuasion.

When writers and artists talk about how they hate marketing and advertising, they’re usually talking about this very method. It feels smarmy, insincere, and pushy. It’s the thing that drives writers and artists away from things instead of toward.

But in this brave new world of publishing indie writers have discovered the secret to a different type of marketing. Instead of pushing their book onto everyone with a pair of eyes, a smart indie writer focuses their efforts on pulling in a smaller, highly compatible audience for their work.

The difference between push and pull is the difference between every obnoxious TV commercial you’ve ever seen, and the overwhelming success of someone like Oprah Winfrey.

In this age of television on demand, any way we want it, everyone skips through the commercials. But Oprah Winfrey doesn’t have to worry about her audience skipping over her. She’s built an empire by slowly and steadily pulling her ideal fans to her. She knows her audience is interested in holistic health and wellness, women’s issues, and self-empowerment. So those are the issues she champions, and those are the topics she engages in and shares with others. She has built a community around her work by becoming one of the most valuable members of that community.

This is what smart indie writers do from day one, and this is what the big publishing companies still don’t understand. The world is shifting from entire populations being brainwashed by billboards, to smaller communities of people who are connecting over a shared purpose or specific interest.

Here are 3 things the best indie writers are doing that you can do too:

Hang Out Where Your Ideal Readers Hang Out
Even if you’re a beginning writer and you feel like a total newbie, start going to conventions and conferences ASAP. Attend the panels and take a look around at who’s there. Listen closely to the Q&A sessions. Take advantage of the writing workshops. Stop by vendor booths and talk to people.

You don’t have to “work the room” and you don’t have to be pushy. Even introverts have it in them to show up, observe the scene, and take a few notes. If you want to find your people, you have to go to the places where your people are consistently gathering to talk to each other and exchange ideas.

Be Yourself—Always
If you try to be something you’re not, you will attract people who are doing the same thing. And if you try to market your work using catchy phrases that don’t ring true for you, you will attract readers who expect something other than what you have to offer. The best method is to be genuine when describing yourself, your message, and the kinds of stories you write.

This sounds simple but it’s often one of the hardest things writers struggle with. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting every reader to love your book, but the truth is that the more readers who fall away naturally, the more sure you can be that the readers who stick are really the right readers for your work.

Provide Value to Your Audience, before They Buy the Book
This means that you think of yourself as part of the community, not just someone trying to gain fans. Support your fellow writers and help promote the ones you truly believe in. Recommend great blogs, post honest reviews online, share other writers’ content, and respond authentically to readers who reach out to you.

The more you joyfully give of yourself, the more value your own writing career will receive back from the community.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out:

3 Reasons You Should Attend a Writers’ Conference

5 Simple Tips for the Writer’s Website

Do You Want to Be the Next John Steinbeck, or the Next Stephenie Meyer?

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5 Comments

  • Reply seumas gallacher 19 November, 2014 at 11:00 am

    …great post … bang on the money, m’Lady 🙂

  • Reply Marie Ann Bailey 20 November, 2014 at 5:08 am

    Great post, Lauren. Unfortunately, so many writers have been wired to constantly focus on the numbers: number of followers, current Amazon ranking, number of tweets promoting one’s book, number of sales, etc. I think for us old folks, we don’t feel we have the time to build a strong, solid Oprah-like following. She wasn’t an overnight success, and yet that’s what everyone strives to be. I see writing friends who I think should be focused on the slow build that you describe, but it’s still a bit of a roller-coaster ride and easy to get demoralized. Not too long ago I read a post by an author who, from his own experience, strongly urged his fellow indie authors to stop looking at the numbers, to just focus on the next book or taking a break. Anything but the usual minute-by-minute analysis of their Amazon rankings. I am thinking of self-publishing in the foreseeable future, and I hope … I just hope … that I can do as you recommended. That will help me in the long run to being read and also help in keeping my sanity 🙂

  • Reply Mari Biella 21 November, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Great post, Lauren. Unfortunately there are too many indie authors who go for the ‘big sell’ and just end up irritating and alienating people. I hate traditional marketing methods anyway, and instead like to focus on being part of a community – which is cheesy, admittedly, but which is infinitely more sincere than just pushing your book on a world which, for the most part, doesn’t care. It’s a slow method, with no overnight success. but it’s the only method I can bring myself to adopt…

  • Reply hilarycustancegreen 21 November, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Seriously helpful advice, I’m in exactly this zone at the moment. Thanks.

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