Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG: Finding Readers


The first Wednesday of the month means it's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This month's co-hosts are M. Pax, Karen Walker, and Melissa Maygrove.

During last month's IWSG, Ciara Knight posted about wanting to connect more with readers on her blog. This is an issue I've been thinking about a great deal. I feel very fortunate to have connected with so many writers through the blogosphere and I wouldn't trade the experience of being part of this amazing group for anything. But I also know I need to do more to connect with readers, most of whom are probably not writers and not part of the online writing community. As writers, we obviously want to reach as many readers as possible.

For me this issue brings up dreaded words like marketing and promotion. To say I am insecure about these things is an understatement. For months now I have been saying I am going to work more on marketing through social media, but I never seem to actually do it. It is definitely easier to say than to do! And I admit I have been guilty of practicing avoidance simply because the topic fills me with so much dread and insecurity. I often feel like there is just so much "noise" online that it's very hard to feel as if I am doing anything but yelling out into the abyss when I am using social media.

But the start of August has reminded me that 2013 is flying by and I really need to stop wasting time and kick myself out of the summer doldrums. While I still want to make better use of social media and stop just talking about it, I also realize that my blog is the place I feel most comfortable and the internet home that suits me the best. So I am also going to blog more regularly and get into a routine of posting about a variety of topics. I'm actually making a list of possible topics and blogging prompts to help me get my butt in gear.

I know marketing is something many writers dislike. If you are one of those writers like I am, are there things you have tried that have helped you overcome this problem? What marketing and promotion methods work best for you?

Thanks as always to Alex for hosting this great group. :)

67 comments:

  1. I also prefer blogging. It is my favourite form of social media. I have noticed though that I have quite a few followers, but very few people actually read and comment on my blog, so I need to do some work on that. Best of luck with the upcoming new blog schedule and routine.

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  2. I really don't look forward to the time when I'll need to start thinking about promoting myself. Good luck with your marketing! :)

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  3. I've read a few posts on fear of marketing and promotion today, I guess it is something that a lot of writers struggle with. I am not in a position to have anything to market yet but I am sure I will be out for all the advice I can get!

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  4. This is where I feel at home.
    It is a constant struggle to make sure we are connecting with our readers. I don't know the secret either.

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  5. Marketing is a time sucker. But stick to a schedule of some kind. And remember to help promote other authors so they'll promote you, too.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  6. Yes, I'm in the same boat, and my favorite online networking is the blog, but how do we reach the readers? Good question, I'm assuming FB, Amazons Shelfari (sic). But honestly, it's all a struggle, experimentation, and persistence. Good luck, but the support we give one another - priceless!

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  7. You might want to start a second Twitter account, one under your novel's name or something, and then go connect with people who aren't writers. But, really, I have no idea how you do it. Let me know when you figure it out!! :)

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  8. I think the trick is to use whatever aspect of social media you enjoy the most because that way your joy, passion and sincerity will come through it loud and clear.

    And I really enjoy your blog, so I'm happy to hear you're going to be posting more often. :)

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  9. The subject of marketing and promotion always makes me feel uneasy. I haven't done any because stories I've had published so far have been in a well established magazine, but I know the time will come. My blog will feel inadequate because I don't devote enough time to it... Best of luck!

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  10. If you figure it out, let me know. I don't think readers - like people I am friends with and used to work with or family members - normal people - read blogs at all. So how do you find a way to get their attention?

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  11. I've spent a lot of time talking to readers. How or why? Because I am certifiable book addict. Social media never ends and is exhausting. There are days when I master it well and others I could care less. My suggestion, spend more time one blogs or websites dedicated to readers such as Wattpad or book bloggers. Those sites will be a window to your opportunity. Oh and connect with published authors to see how they are doing it. Watch and learn. That's what I do. Hope that helps. :)

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  12. @Murees, thanks and best of luck to you as well.

    @Laura, thanks!

    @Suzanne, yeah, it does seem to be a popular topic. It's good to know I'm not alone at least!

    @Alex, I sometimes wonder if anyone does, it seems most people struggle with this.

    @shelly, yeah, that's one of my favorite things about blogging - promoting other writers. That's fun and really it's a lot easier for me to promote others than it is to promote myself LOL.

    @Yolanda, I definitely agree, it is priceless. And I'm glad we can at least help each other out when we're in this boat!

    @LG, LOL, I'm so bad at Twitter that the thought of another one makes my stomach do flip-flops. But I know it's a smart idea, I've seen people do that sort of thing. Also seen people use Tumblr but I don't know if I can bear trying another one LOL.

    @Madeline, thanks so much, that means a great deal. :)

    @Linda, thank you, and good luck to you as well!

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  13. @Tonja, yeah, that's exactly what I've been thinking about. If I figure something out I'll definitely share LOL.

    @Mina, oh, that does help, thanks for the suggestion! I'm not familiar with Wattpad but will look into that, thanks.

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  14. Ugh to marketing and promotion. I have the same worry, Julie. Good luck!

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  15. I hope one day this is a problem I have to worry about LOL! And hopefully by then you will have all the answers :)
    Suzanne @ Suzannes-Tribe

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  16. I've had this same conversation with myself many times over the last year, J! I really want to be better at connected with other writers through my blog. I've developed a lot of great writing friendships that way.

    Unfortunately, I'm not as excited about blogging as I used to be. I really prefer interacting on Twitter as it takes so much less time investment.

    All that being said, I'm definitely going to work to be more active on my friend's blogs in the coming months. I get so much inspiration and encouragement from y'all! :)

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  17. I think 90% of marketing is coming to understand the intricacies of effective means. You can spend hours on a post that will be seen by 5 people, or have a meaningful conversation with one reader who spreads your book like wildfire. How can you truly know where to spend your time?

    Marketing I think really comes down to establishing relationships with readers, and if you look at it like you do blogging, it's a completely different beast.

    How do I make more friends?

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  18. @Karen, thanks!

    @Suzanne, I bet you will have to worry about it soon. And when I have all the answers I'll definitely share LOL.

    @EJ, so many people say that about Twitter I keep thinking I need to try to use it more. So far I just can't get into it.

    @Crystal, that's what I'm hoping to find out! I know I need to work more on establishing relationships.

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  19. Post about things of mutual interest to you and your readers. It's about connecting more than marketing. :)

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  20. Being unpublished myself I know nothing of the world of marketing and promotion. But being an avid reader of other writers blogs I can say with certainty that you're not alone in your dread of these things.

    While I dfer to my published comrades for real-world advice on this I will say that it seemed to me that fans (and there may not be a lot of them when you're newly published- but they're there) seems to find the writers they like, no matter where they are posting. They follow their blogs, check out their facebook posts and list their reviews on Goodreads.
    Are you on Goodreads, BTW? I see A LOT of people promoting their books there and hosting giveaways and other events to raise awareness of their novels. Might be a good venue to add to the list.

    Regardless, blogging is good. I like it, at least ^_^

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  21. Marketing is terrifying, but I just keep trying a little bit here and there, and I try not to focus on it too much on a daily basis. If I do, I feel overwhelmed.

    I've found lately, that taking my books to independent bookstores has been a really good way to get my books out there. I haven't sold a lot, but I feel like at least my book is in a few more stores, and someone may find it. Talking to book store owners can be terrifying at first, but every one of them I've met so far has been wonderful and encouraging.

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  22. @Mary, that's how I want to look at it, thanks.

    @Bev, I am on Goodreads but need to be there more often. That's one I keep saying I am going to be more active on. Thanks for the advice!

    @Tyrean, that's something else I've been looking into - the bookstores. We don't have many around here but I am trying to work my nerve up and go to them. Thanks!

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  23. You're not alone, Julie. I feel most at home with my blogs. There is so much freedom in writing them. I still haven't mastered the art of Twitter yet. I think I am too long-winded to join the chat in 140 characters or fewer.

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  24. @Susan, I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't mastered Twitter. I just can't seem to feel comfortable with it.

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  25. I can just imagine how difficult that part of a writer's life would be. It seems to me that writers are by nature solitary creatures, who then have to go out into the world and do book signings, book tours, social media, etc. I am a reader, so not all people you connect with on your blog are writers. And, as a reader, I am so happy to have connected with many writers on the blogs. Looking forward to reading more of the new things you are coming up with.

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  26. I've been trying to think of more ways to connect with readers too, but I still don't know for sure how to go about it. I prefer blogging over most social media right now, although Facebook is a close second. Now I just need to think of more creative ways to connect with readers. That's the hard part.

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  27. @Inger, that's good to know, thanks! I'm really glad I was able to connect with you. :)

    @Cherie, definitely. I'm glad at least I'm not the only one struggling with it.

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  28. I'm terrible at marketing. "You don't want to buy my book, do you?" Yeah, not quite that bad, but you know what I mean. Let me know when you find out the secret :)

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  29. This is a tough one. What I've done is create a website and a Facebook page that will appeal to my readers, with recipes, blog posts about family life, etc, while my Coming Down the Mountain blog is still largely geared to writers.

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  30. @Gwen, I am about that bad LOL. :D

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  31. I know exactly what you mean. I used to write 50% of my blog posts to appeal to readers, and my posts with the highest hits have been about Egypt and geared to readers. But recently I've been lazy and instead of researching Egyptian things to write about, I'm only posting writerly stuff that I can dash off easily. *sigh* I hope I'm connecting with some readers on Facebook...

    Good luck to you on all promo and marketing things! :-)

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  32. @Karen, that's a smart idea, I think your FB page is great.

    @Lexa, that's a good point, my highest hits are posts that have nothing to do with writing too. I think my most popular post is actually about the Count on Sesame Street LOL. Thanks and good luck to you as well. :)

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  33. I've wondered about this too, Julie. I have lots of writer friends who visit my blog, but not readers. Are readers visiting and not commenting? I don't know. Do I need a blog or site just specifically for the books? It's tough trying to get out there. I find Twitter works better for me than FB, but I can't say for certain anything else works better.

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  34. I love your blog and miss your stories of traveling with your dog or about your life in general.

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  35. My publisher has just put a post on our authors' loop asking its authors what has and hasn't worked in terms of marketing. The general consensus is that doing competitions work and an ad on Goodreads or FaceBook.But mostly they say they need the publisher's weight behind them (us). I'm staying with my blog but most of my followers are also writers - I wish I knew how to interact with readers! Good luck!!

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  36. If you find the magic formula let me know. I get bored when people use social media to do nothing but market...but I'm sure there's a happy medium to be found. I just haven't yet found it.

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  37. I am the stereotypical picture of a writer; a total introvert like yourself.

    Putting myself out there and shouting, "Hey look at me" fills me with dread. But I am putting on a fake smile, pulling on my cloak of super powers and doing a book signing next month. Meeting with store managers and submitting a press release to the newspapers.

    As long as I don't wimp out, har har.

    Just remember, No One Cares about your book as much as you do. No one. Not your family, your editor, publisher or agent. Only you.

    That means only You have the passion to see it done right.

    Do it. Put on that cloak of invulnerability and pretend you are something you are not: Bold.
    Cheers!

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  38. I also feel more comfortable here than with other social media. I always enjoy the topics you write about on your blog. Good luck with everything Julie and your sincerity always shines through wherever you may be.

    Julie

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  39. Yes, August came as a shock to me as well! I do, and probably always will, struggle with promotion and marketing.

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  40. I've been thinking about this myself. My blog, as it is, has been more about my writing journey and my association with other writers. Now that I've got a book out and am actually hearing from some readers, I'm wishing to make a place for them to go and learn more about my books and characters.

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  41. Well, I'm certainly no expert at marketing, but it sounds smart to focus primarily on where you're most comfortable, and widening your blog topics to include things interesting to readers is a good idea. Plus it will give you more variety when you Tweet etc., and maybe that will naturally bring more readers to your social networks.

    Time seems to be a pretty good cure for fear of marketing - after three years, I've gotten used to it. What bothers me now is trying to figure out what actually works & where to spend my limited time. If I ever crack that code, I'll be sure to let you know. ;)

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  42. @Christine, I've noticed some writers have Tumblrs for their books and I wondered if that was worth trying. I'm not sure I can manage trying another site though. It's definitely hard to figure it out.

    @LynnMarie, oh, thanks! I actually miss writing about Clancy and I need to figure out more places for us to go. I kind of ran out of places I wanted to see around here LOL.

    @Susan, thanks, that's interesting to know. Good luck to you as well!

    @Johanna, I do too and don't want to end up being like that. But then I can't really ever think of anything to say on Twitter LOL.

    @Huntress, that's so true and a good thing to remember! Thanks and cheers to you as well - congrats on your book!

    @Julie, aww, thank you for saying that.

    @Annalisa, it really is so hard to believe it's August already. I feel like the holidays will be here before we know it.

    @Donna, it sounds like we are having the same thoughts then, not sure how to make it work though.

    @Nicki, that's good to know that time has made it easier for you, I hope I'll be able to say the same in a few years. :)

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  43. Julie, you've hit on a hard topic for me too. Promoting oneself is difficult. I spend so much time with social media that it's interfering with my writing. I love to visit everyone's blog and leave a comment, but it's very time consuming. Let me know if you come up with a simpler solution.

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  44. I know what you mean Julie. It's daunting. But we have to create a marketing plan if we expect to sell books. And we figure out what works best for us--no 2 paths are the same.
    It's tricky getting out there to find our readers. I think joining different chats on Twitter is a great way to be seen.

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  45. I may change my mind before then, but I plan to keep my writer's blog geared for my writing buddies. When I get closer to publication, I plan to create a website geared toward readers. I will probably have a blog as a part of it so people can follow through a blog reader if they choose. I'll also offer a newsletter for new releases and other important news (don't want to abuse that, of course).

    I plan to use Twitter, though cautiously, so as not to irritate people. I'll also hire a book blog tour or two. My marketing strategy is still in the planning stages. ;)

    Great post!
    August co-host and IWSG #110

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  46. So far, word-of-mouth recommendations has been my best friend. Some of the people who've read my book and liked it have mentioned it on their blog or on facebook... or have simply told their friends. A very few of them have written nice reviews. All of that helps.

    I also contacted our old hometown newspaper in MD and offered to send a copy of my book for review. Instead, a reporter got in touch with me to conduct an interview, and the paper ran a front page story on me and my book! It just so happens our old high school graduation class has a page on Facebook, and one member cited the article on there. One thing led to another, and the bottom line is: a bunch of folks from our high school class and old hometown have bought the book. Worked out GREAT!

    I'm not real big on marketing and self-promotion. If that other gal hadn't mentioned my book on the high school class FB page, I wouldn't have brought it up. To me, that would have been tacky. So, I play things low-key and am grateful for every word-of-mouth recommendation and every single book that sells. Will I ever get rich? Heck, no. But I'm happy.

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  47. It's not easy, that's for sure. I find communicating directly with readers is a great way to build a relationship, but that does mean doing it one at a time. I think as a new author like me, every new reader I get to know and likes my book is a step forward:) Twitter is a great place for this.

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  48. I've talked with Ciara about the same thing...I think it might have been last summer...and I still haven't jumped into marketing and promotion to reach readers. It's tough, time consuming, and way outside my comfort-zone. One thing that's been recommended to me that I'm (slowly) working on is a newsletter. The challenge is getting people to sign up. If you discover any great insights, then please share them here. :)

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  49. Maybe it would be better for you in the long run to stick to blogging since you're really comfortable with it. The more comfortable you are, the more genuine you'll sound.

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  50. i have yet to have anything published so for now, i'm looking at advice, too!!

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  51. I ran into a lady in Wal Mart from my town and she informed me all the writing posts were boring. (You can count on West Virginian's to give it to you straight!)

    I listened and I am planning to keep the "writer" stuff to once a week, and general topics the other day. I think we have to show a bit of ourselves to keep people interested.

    I also got some stationery and I plan to send letters to small book stores and ask (beg) them to carry my books. I also think I need to hit facebook more often. I'm not worried so much about posting, but keeping p to speed with friends. It has to be a relationship, not a writer selling books.

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  52. yep, I go through phases where different social media platforms seem to catch my attention more than others, but when it comes down to it, blogging is definitely my favourite.

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  53. I'm having a similar thing with my album that just came out - I've really done the bare minimum, so naturally have sold the bare minimum amount of CDs (to friends and family, and one CD to a stranger my dad met in a post office. haha). And it's probably mostly my own fault, even though I know most sales will be digital anyway.

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  54. I have a novella coming in December so I'm in the same boat. I don't hate it as much as I'm procrastinating.

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  55. I'm most comfortable on my blog too! I stumble around FB and Twitter...
    Promotion and marketing? I'm not at that stage yet, but it's NOT my strong point...
    I think the question is: how does a writer reach out and connect with readers who will like your book? Wouldn't part of the answer lie with "reader" bloggers? Where do you find these people?
    Writer In Transit

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  56. Blogging and Facebook are my two most favorite ways to get readers.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  57. @Cathy, I agree there, I love blogging and commenting but it is time consuming. It's hard to find a way to keep it all balanced.

    @Pk, I've heard great things about the Twitter chats and that's something else I've been meaning to try. Thanks for the suggestion!

    @Melissa, that sounds like a good plan to me. And I always worry about irritating people on Twitter, I think that's why I haven't been able to get to a point where I feel comfortable there.

    @Susan, wow, how awesome about your home town paper and the FB page! That's a great word-of-mouth story. I hope those folks keep sharing and getting you more sales. :)

    @tf, that's definitely true, and a step at a time is a good way to look at it.

    @Michael, I've thought about a newsletter too, I hope you have success with yours. Good luck with it!

    @Samantha, I definitely think it's the best thing for me, at least for now.

    @Tammy, I hope you got some advice from all these great comments, I know I have. :)

    @Elizabeth, oh, that cracks me up, LOL. Nothing like being direct. :D

    @Lynda, I totally agree.

    @Trisha, yeah, I can imagine you are running into the same issues with your album. It's hard no matter what we've created I guess. Fun about the stranger in the post office! :D

    @Sheena, I think I am guilty of procrastinating too, one of my biggest problems.

    @Michelle, definitely, that's the question I've been asking myself. I know there are tons of book bloggers but they all seem so busy and overwhelmed with requests that I'm not sure how to approach them.

    @Gina, it seems like there are several of us who love blogging! :)

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  58. I admit, I'm not comfortable with SM. I have a lot of auto-shares for blog posts and use Triberr too, which is immense! But apart from that, I don't like spending ages on Twitter of FB or G+. So I dabble a bit here, a bit there.

    Best of luck with your strategies Julie.

    Shah X
    http://bit.ly/14AdKXQ

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  59. @Shah, oh, I've tried Triberr too and immense is a good word for it! Thanks and best of luck to you as well. :)

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  60. I don't know the answer. It's hard to tell what works. I just take a deep breath and 'do it'.

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  61. @Carol, that sounds like a good plan. :)

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  62. The whole marketing aspect is a scary notion for me too, but I'm not in a position where I need it at the moment so I can put it off a little longer.

    Good luck with your blogging!

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  63. Marketing is something that I enjoy. With a firm belief in our work, it's like showing pictures of your baby to friends. That doesn't seem like a hardship, does it? Look at it that way. You're simply showing off your kids to anyone who will listen/read. Eventually, word gets around at what a beautiful baby you have.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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  64. Hey Julie! I guess I'm one of those rare writers who actually enjoys marketing. I'm not the introvert type at all!
    It really is an overwhelming feeling, though, as to what is "the best way" to do it. It seems like it changes from month to month.
    Recently I read a great article/blog post about social media that really made me feel better. It basically said to concentrate on where your confidence is, that everyone does not need to do everything: twitter, facebook, blogging, pinterest, and all the other stuff I don't know anything about! :)
    BUT, do you think I remember where I read all that? Hmm...I have one possibility that pops into my mind. I'll check it out and get back to you! AND finally, I apologize for being such a "bad" bloggy friend. I haven't stopped here very often at all, and I hope to do better! Hugs!




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  65. Sing it sister! I've been working on the finding readers thing as well. It's one of the reasons I joined a group blog aimed at readers. On the downside, it takes precious time...

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  66. Hi, Julie,

    I'm not where you're at yet... but I agree we need to be more present. Since I just started a new service, I need to do more to market it as well. And, like you, I feel most comfy at my blog. Word of mouth is great!

    However you are a published author and need to acquire more readers. Have you heard about L.Diane Wolfe's new book? She is AMAZING at marketing techniques and perhaps one or two of her suggestions will work for you. I am sure you've seen it around. I've featured it a few times. If you need the link to it, I'll send it to you.

    Wonderful, that we will see more of you! I don't care what anyone says, blogging is the BEST!!!

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  67. @Heather, thanks!

    @Michael, I never thought of it that way but that's brilliant. I will try it! Thanks for the advice. :)

    @Becky, I never would have guessed you're not an introvert. ;) And that article you read sounds like great advice, I have to laugh as I never remember where I read anything LOL. Also, nothing to apologize for at all! It's really hard to keep up with everything, I know. Thanks so much.

    @Brinda, I think your group seems like a great idea, I hope you have lots of success with it. :)

    @Michael, I have been meaning to read Diane's book - thanks for the reminder. And I agree about blogging. Thanks so much. :)

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Thank you for your comments!