Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: A chilly 68 degrees!
Last week I joined 500+ others at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Denver. Those who were there know what a worthwhile event this is, and those who read last week’s blog should have great tales to tell of their PR and networking successes.
One session in particular stood out for me, especially as it pertained to publicity and marketing. The workshop, led by B&H Publishing’s Karen Ball and Thomas Nelson’s Allen Arnold, offered some great ideas on building readership based on Seth Godin’s blockbuster book Tribes. The idea behind this book is that each of us has a sphere of influence–a tribe–and by cultivating that sphere of interest in ways that appeal to its members, the tribe grows.
Allen Arnold suggests we consider our tribe as guests at a party- -our party. Our goal as tribe leader is to, in essence, be a good host by providing a meeting place, introducing our guests, then stepping back to allow the conversation to flow.
Anyone who has read my blog more than once has likely realized how much I value word-of-mouth as a marketing tool. Studies show the best way to get the word out about books, especially novels, is through friends telling friends who then tell friends. Like a ripple on a pond, the message of what we write starts with us and travels out through our tribe. How, then, do we reach our tribe? The answers are many, but a few favorites struck me as I scribbled notes at warp speed:
1. Use social media to offer a gathering place for your party. Facebook has a Fan Page option you simply must explore. Author Robin Jones Gunn is a pioneer in Fan Page brilliance, so a trip to her site is a must-do. Robin has perfected the idea of hosting a party for her tribe, and she executes this idea through contests, chats, and so much more. Click Robin’s Facebook Fan Page to visit. Frequent posts and Twitter feeds add more to the page and give readers an inside view of what it is like to be you.
2. Make the party special. As previously stated, your tribe are those who push books and drive sales, so let them know you value them. Don’t just invite them to the party; make the gathering a spot worth staying. A good host not only provides a great time, but he or she also introduces like-minded tribe members, then steps back to let them get to know one another. It’s all in good fun…with fun being the order of the day. How? Insider information such as cover previews and sample chapters are two ways to bring your fans into the inner circle and give them reasons to smile. Perhaps you can offer contests or provide polls to name characters. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
I’ve only scratched the surface of the wealth of information Karen Ball and Allen Arnold shared at the conference. If you’re of a mind to listen to the workshop, purchase the tape from ACFW or buy Godin’s book (and no, I don’t receive a finders fee on either!). Both purchases are well worth the cost. Before you go, however, I want to hear your ideas for ministering to your flock…to throwing a party for your tribe. And don’t forget to share what you did with last week’s ideas while attending the conference.