Thursday, March 1, 2018

UnMarketable #AmReading #Author #Marketing

by Giselle Renarde

I've got a bit of crush on this real estate agent in my neighbourhood.  Every so often I get a newsletter from her. In the mail. An actual newsletter on paper. Glossy paper. With lots of pretty pictures.

I always read her newsletters, even though I probably couldn't afford even the cheapest property in the entire city. I doubt if I could afford a parking spot. Not that I need one--I don't have a car. But if I did suddenly have 3 million dollars at my disposal and I wanted to buy a house, I know exactly who I'd call.

And not just because she's pretty. She is pretty, no mistaking it, but that's not why I read her newsletters. I read them because they're about HER.  Yes, she writes about the real estate market in Toronto, but she's also written some pieces that unveiled her vulnerabilities--something you don't expect from anyone in business, much less a woman working in a cut-throat industry.

The reason I'm telling you about this real estate agent and her very engaging newsletter during "What Am I Reading?" week is that her most recent newsletter included a list of books she'd read recently and found interesting and helpful, particularly from a business perspective.
One book on that list is called UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging by Scott Stratten.

By some strange coincidence, I had found a copy of this book just a few weeks earlier in a Little Free Library. When I told my mom this story, she said, "I bet that's your real estate agent's copy!"  The awful wishful thinking thing is that I'd already had that thought. Hey, anything's possible.

What did I learn from UnMarketing?

Well, I'll start by saying it's an amusing book written in a very approachable tone. I breezed through it, and I am not a fast reader.  The title (or, rather, the subtitle) is a very accurate description of the overall message.  It's a book about connecting with your audience rather than just spewing advertisements at them, with a primary focus on social media (mainly Twitter).

Thing is, any book you write about social media marketing is obsolete before it even hits the market.  And the "Revised and Updated" version I read came out in 2012.

The same thing happens to me pretty much every time I read a marketing book: I read the advice, think "yeah, I know I SHOULD be doing all these things, but I'm not gonna," and I never implement anything I've learned.

My Twitter account has been around since 2008 and I've made good use of it, more for socializing than for marketing, but if a new book comes out I try to remember to mention it to my followers. I guess my problem is that the people with whom I socialize on Twitter are people I already know. They're the authors and editors I've known for years.

Any time anyone I don't know @'s me, I freak the fuck out. I am so intimidated by strangers it isn't even funny. If I see a tweet from someone I don't know, I basically close my eyes and chant "Make it go away!" a hundred times, then close my browser.

I'm scared of people. Even well-meaning people who tweet totally innocent stuff at me. I don't know who you are! I don't know what you want! Why are you talking to me?

All my life I've had a reputation for being a snob. My girlfriend says she found me standoffish when we first met. And I'm not surprised! It takes a ridiculous amount of time to earn my trust. What feels to me like scaredy-catness is interpreted by others as everything from aloofness to arrogance.

That's all well and good for your average human, but I'm an author. Perceived arrogance is bad for business.  Should I force myself to be better for the good of the brand?

In my real estate agent crush's most recent newsletter, she talks about being inspired by Shonda Rhimes's book Year of Yes to push herself beyond her comfort zone. She says she'd always been really reluctant to do videos even though her business coach had encouraged her to just try it. She took an improv class to get comfortable talking on the fly, tried out videos, and soon she was being contacted by news channels for on-air interviews.

Aren't success stories heartwarming?

They sure are. I don't know what's wrong with me--a fundamental failing or character flaw--but I  think I'd rather hear other people's success stories than work to create my own. That or I just have audacity to be satisfied with my little author life in my little author apartment.

Really, it ain't so bad.


  1. You have to remember that people in general don't write about the cases when they didn't succeed...

    Marketing (or unmarketing, whatever you call it) is simply beyond me. Some authors are so relentless, it's scary. I have enough stress in my life without worrying how to sell more books.

    I do recommend that you connect with Richie and Randi at Kinky Literature. They'll feature your books, completely free -- and they're really nice people. I do think your work would be popular with their customers. And you really don't have to do anything yourself!

  2. My oldest son is the same way about being with people he doesn't know. He's been this way since he was born. Once he knows you, you'll be hard-put to get him to shut up, he'll be so adamant about convincing you that his opinions are superior to yours. But until then, you might think he's aloof, rude, arrogant, etc.

    I'm the opposite of that, talking to everyone I meet in ordinary life, even folks in stores where I shop. I've always been this way.

    But my life is so busy that I don't have any time to give to promoting my books. I write because I enjoy the process. I have a FB page, but I can't even remember the last time I was on it. I try to update my blog regularly. I've never opened a Twitter account. Besides,the teenagers inform me that FB and Twitter are for old people. They're on Snapchat and Instagram. Or maybe newer things they won't share with this old lady.

    I think with age comes the wisdom to realize when you are content with what you have. Youth is all striving for more. Age is accepting that you can live with what you have, and looking around to enjoy the small moments that you used to miss when you were always striving.

  3. I'm finding that age (mine is more advanced than that of anyone else here) makes me more and more anxious about producing anything worthwhile before I lose the capacity to do anything. Of course helping my very elderly father (and now visiting him in the nursing home I've head to arrange for him) exposes me to a whole lot of extreme aging and incapacity, which could have something to do with my mood.

  4. The successful marketing thing seems beyond me too. (I think of our Lisabet as a role model in that area.) I often think I would try more creative strategies for connecting with random strangers on-line in order to sell my writing, but when I do have time, I’m usually not sure where to start.

    1. Good Lord, Jean! I haven't a clue about marketing. (And it shows in my royalties...)

  5. I keep hearing that Facebook is the place to be nowadays to promote your book. That places stresses me the eff out. I have my private personal account that I carefully control so that it's a stress-free zone. And then there's my author account that I log into now and then -- I don't have blood pressure problems, but I can feel my blood pressure go through the roof after only ten seconds in that Facebook account. I literally can't deal with it.

    1. I don't have a FB account as Lisabet. Much, much too risky. With today's AI algorithms it wouldn't take more than a few minutes for the software to make the connection between my literary and real world identities. And that would be catastrophic.

  6. Giselle sometimes I connect so hard with what you write it almost hurts. I'm slow to trust in just the way you describe, and I have very similar feelings about marketing. I think about how it would be to just accept myself as I am. Still not sure what the shape of that would be, but I like the idea.


  7. Crushes can be fun at our age. Although they don't have the dire immediacy of our teen years, they can bring us back to that time in our lizard brains.

    I have always had a gregarious nature, but it's hard for me to extend that to on-line promotion. I like looking someone in the eye when I'm communicating with them. Upon occasions when I've done public speaking, I've always done better extemporizing than with a written speech.