The Most Important Quality Great Writers & Book Marketers Share

author marketing a bookMaureen Lee posted a great question in the comments on yesterday’s post about Ed Cyzewski’s book, A Path to Publishing.  She wrote:

Traditionally, it had seemed that the aptitudes needed for authoring books were vastly different from those needed to market them. Great writers had tended to be artistic, idealistic, philosophical and perceptive commentators of society, while great marketers had tended to be pragmatic, street smart, action-oriented and shrewd handlers of resources. (Both share the common ground of being astute observers of human nature.)

Yet it seems that to be successful in this post-technological Age of Recommendation, both gifted writers and gifted marketers need to overcome certain hurdles to function effectively in areas that may not their primary passion and strengths. I wonder if such a trend towards the blurring of roles for writers and marketers (i.e., writers need to sell, and marketers need to write) is diminishing or enhancing the primary strengths of either roles?

While the skills and strengths of great writers and great marketers may seem different on the surface, there is one quality that is extremely important to both.

Social Media Marketing

Before I get to what that quality is, I think it’s important to point out that much of the marketing authors need to do to sell their books is not traditional marketing, but rather social media marketing, which includes things like blogging, blog tours, Facebook, and Twitter.

While traditional marketing is largely well-polished, self-promoting, and broadcast in one direction (from the marketer to their audience), social media marketing or social networking is more authentic, relational, and conversational.

It’s All About Connecting

In A Path to Publishing, Ed Ed Cyzewski writes, “If you’re a writer, you’re goal is to connect with readers.”

If you’re using social media, your goal is to connect with people as well.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that connecting with people is the most important part both of writing a book and spreading the word about it through social media.

We could fill an entire book discussing what it means to connect with people and how to do it.  (Actually, John Maxwell recently did that in his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect reviewed here.)  But I would define connecting as communicating with a person in a way that they feel like you understand and value them.

In that sense, what’s needed to be great at both writing and marketing a book may not be that different.

Technology and Tactics

Don’t confuse the ability to connect with the ability to set-up and use a blog or various social media tools.  Many people who are good at connecting with others, may not be familiar with the technology or tactics of social media.  Many authors would benefit from hiring someone to set-up their blog and social media accounts as well as train them on to use them effectively.

Do you agree that the ability to connect with people is the most important part both of writing a book and spreading the word about it through social media? Why or why not?

Ed and I are giving away 3 copies of A Path to Publishing later today, read yesterday’s review to learn how you can get a copy.

[image by taminator]

4 Responses to “The Most Important Quality Great Writers & Book Marketers Share”

  1. Paul, you’ve a very valid point that “the ability to connect with people is the most important part both of writing a book and spreading the word about it through social media.”

    All communications are two ways in which the response to the communicator may be positive or negative, and active or passive. It seems that in social media, the ability to connect is the ability to engage the listener or reader in responding positively and actively. Both writers and marketers are communicators in that they have something which they think is important and worth the effort to share with many people. Those who are successful are the ones who manage to elicit widespread positive and active responses.

    I also appreciate your definition that “connecting” is “communicating with a person in a way that they feel like you understand and value them.” This implies that great writers and marketers put their readers (and potential customers) above themselves, are willing to study their market diligently, and to engage in active dialogue to fine-tune their levels of understanding towards their readers.

  2. Paul, thank you for writing this post (which we’ve linked to from our blog http://somersault.posterous.com/how-the-skills-of-authors-and-marketers-are-c). At Somersault Group (@smrsault) we see the same trend occuring: publishers requiring authors to be more active in marketing their books. The good news is social media makes that relatively easy for them to do.

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