They Want YOU,
Connect to your audience via digital tools
By Jon Hirst
Marketing your book today isn’t about broadcasting
a message to one million people and expecting them to run to bookstores. Ideas swirl around us at high speed and most people can only grab and engage
meaningfully with a few.
Increasingly, marketing is about telling the right 10,000 people and building a community. The most critical skill in
sharing your ideas is building a disciplined relationship with your audience that enables you to meet their needs.
The new world of marketing is extremely personal. People are
searching for authenticity and community around your idea. They don’t want the marketing staffer at your publishing house – they want
So, how do you venture into this new world and still have time
to write your next book or go to your day job? Consider these ideas:
1. Identify those people to whom your idea will make the most
difference. Create a page or two description of “Joe and Jane” reader. Keep this visible at your desk.
2. Define the top 3-4 needs that Joe and Jane have related to
your book. Then look actively for ways to meet those needs.
3. Find out where your Joe and Jane live, work, play and spend
free time. Then enter that world. For example, if you are writing about how to raise toddlers, then investigate toddler- related programs in three to
four churches closest to you. How can you get involved?
4. Decide which tool you will use to enable your audience
to connect. Some authors use digital tools and others connect in the real world via churches or other groups.
5. If you choose to go digital, consider these
a. Your content: A key way to develop a relationship is to provide new and changing content related to your
book’s theme. Creating a blog will allow you to write and publish with minimal setup or work. Two popular blog hosts are Blogger and WordPress. The blog enables you to offer in-depth content that fewer people will see, but it provides more meaning and
b. Your community: Once people read your
blog, they will be excited about what you have to say. But how do you get them there? Social networking sites can help you develop a following.
Whether you use Plaxo, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Facebook, these tools allow you to build a group of people who care about your topic. Then you can send messages
to your community when you place content on your blog.
c. Your sound bites: Twitter is a service that allows you to send a quick, engaging sentence to cell
phones or the web profiles of a group of people interested in your book. Your message could also include a link to a blog or website. Here’s a
recent “tweet” I shared: “What would it be like to die on a normal day? Read on: http://tinyurl.com/7zbzvr 4:09 PM Jan 4th from web.”
You could also use Twitter to send a message
from your phone or computer when you do an event or book signing. It could inform your followers of your location and invite them to join
6. Invest a little time each day in your community. For
example, I spend at least 20 minutes on most days on a different marketing activity . Here is a sample schedule:
I’ve used these online marketing tools to promote my book
Innovation in Mission: a blog, Facebook group, and Twitter.
The new reality in publishing can seem overwhelming. Feeling insecure is common when
you are at the mercy of your audience. However, I have learned that your influence is huge when you can personally and directly speak to their
Jon Hirst is an MAI board member and serves with HCJB Global as Executive Director of Strategic Communication. Jon and his wife
Mindy run a think tank called Generous Mind that helps people to share
their ideas with the world.