Marketing: The Dilemma
The Climate Story Garden promotes climate fiction. Promotion is the key word here, and marketing is what must be done to make these stories successful. Many writers, including me, don’t want to market their work. They want to create stories and they wish someone else would do the hard work of marketing, but that isn’t the way it works, except for a lucky few. I say lucky, but it’s probably more a function of having connections—meaning a network of people who will push the book into the right hands, as well as a great life story that makes you, the author, easy to sell.
The rest of us must promote ourselves, and that doesn’t come easy to writers who may not have the dynamic personality needed to talk themselves up to others. A lot of writers, in fact, are quite introverted, so self-promotion can be a huge wall to climb. It may stop them from even attempting that climb, which is why much of the Climate Story Garden effort is to build up that network of connections to help struggling writers get their climate fiction out into the world.
Some may say tough for them. If they haven’t got what it takes, too bad. Instead, I say, look at all the wonderful stories we will never read if we don’t step up to help.
And when it comes to climate fiction, something the world desperately needs to turn the thinking of millions, perhaps billions, of people around, we cannot just leave it up to the born-to-sell types to craft the stories we need. They may be focused on stories that are considered commercial—as in stories like those that are already a commercial success. That doesn’t spark innovation. That doesn’t prod writers to reach into the depths of human imagination to find stories with the potential for transformation.
So, writers need help with marketing, but what kind of marketing do they need?
Advertising is marketing, but that takes money, and even traditional publishers don’t spend anything on advertising except for the top of their list. It comes down to the author to promote their own work these days, and without money for advertising, authors must turn to social media and the web.
At every writer’s conference or organization, there are sessions or online webinars devoted to social media. I have attended many of them. They talk about what apps are the newest, hottest trend for writers, or how to build up the list with engagement not sales pitches, or what type of content even qualifies as engagement (they never truly tell you unless you pay for one-on-one time with them). I keep looking for that aha moment that will tell me start here, and I just go round and round, never starting anything.
Of course, that’s not completely true because I have learned from these webinars that building an email list is the number one most effective way to market books, and newsletters are one of the best ways to do that. This is why the Climate Story Garden began with that strategy, but there’s still all those platforms, all the apps, to negotiate to help increase the email list beyond the minimum.
When I began promoting my books in the 90s, the author website was the key to marketing success. Now it's almost an afterthought, but back then marketing was more about hitting the pavement with bookstore events and sending out direct mail. Yes, I licked a lot of stamps in those days. When email became more prevalent, that saved a ton of money, if you could find an email list (which also cost money to rent).
Now we have all these platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter which are free, but not without a price. It is that price which creates the big dilemma for me.
What is that price? Beyond the wormhole of ill-spent time these apps suck you into, it is more about how apps are changing society for the worst instead of the best. If you have seen The Social Dilemma, or watched/read the news, you know what I am referring to, but I will talk more about it in my post next week. Marketing is such a huge challenge that it needs a lot of attention. There is much to say about promotion, so I will have many posts devoted to it over time. Next week will be a post about Marketing: The Core of the Problem, and the week after will be Marketing: Solutions? with perhaps others after that. In the meantime, watch The Social Dilemma if you haven’t already, or refresh your memory by watching it again.