Five Steps to a Marketing Habit

I'm a firm believer that marketing is a habit that all authors should develop. It should be a part of your daily routine. Yes, I said daily. Every day, you should make it your goal to do at least one thing to get your book in front of your target readers.

But habits are hard, both to break and to develop. Confession time: I have been a lifetime nail biter. Seriously, I can't remember a single time during my childhood or adult life when I didn't bite my nails. Until two months ago. I decided enough was enough. I wanted to break the habit, and I did.

So here are my strategies to break a habit that you can use to create a habit of daily marketing. But be warned, once you get going it will be hard to stop. And all that marketing just might lead to success.

1. Fake it 'till you make it
When I finally decided to get serious about the nail biting, the first thing I did was slap on a set of DIY acrylic nails. Let me tell you, they looked awful. But they did the job. My fingers didn't look like stubs and I wasn't able to bite the nails because they were covered up.

Marketing on a regular basis probably won't come naturally. In fact, it might feel wrong at first, especially if you generally avoid it like the plague. So until you have your habit firmly built, you'll need to fake it. That means being strict with yourself. You will need more guidelines that stop you from slipping. Hard one. Rules like, I will get my marketing task done for the day before I am allowed on any social media networks. It's mean, I know, but you can't afford to give yourself any wiggle room in these early days. I also recommend creating a weekly task list. Assign a different marketing task (such as send 5 review requests, send 5 press releases, contact the school/library about a workshop) for each day of the week. Once you have your habit in place, you can be a little more forgiving.

2. Find a buddy
Lucky for me, I have a close friend who is also a lifelong nail biter. She acts as an accountability partner. I see her several times a week and know that she will look at my nails, because I asked her to. And I do the same for her. Knowing that I have someone that is going to hold me to the fire keeps me from slipping.

Marketing isn't fun (at least to normal people; I'm weird). It's all too easy to wave off a missed day that can then quickly turn into a missed week, and then a month lost with no marketing out there to bring your books to readers. Find another author who also wants to improve their marketing efforts and agree to hold each other accountable. Agree on how often you will check in with each other. You might even set a friendly bet on who can go the longest without missing a day. Loser buys the first round at your next writing conference.

3. Keep your tools handy
A ragged nail edge is kryptonite to the nail biter. It drives me batty and I have to fix it. That's why I make sure that I always have a file handy. And not just, I can get to it, but right there handy. I keep a file on my nightstand, my end table, in the bathroom and one in my purse in case I'm out.

You never know when you are going to run across an opportunity to do a little spontaneous marketing. If you have business cards, books marks, trading cards or other swag, keep them with you. If you carry a purse, try to leave some room to have these on hand. One of my author friends never leaves home without several of her books in the trunk of her car. She figures it's worth the cost to hand out a free book to someone who shows interest in her work, since that reader might then buy her other books. And she's right.

I'm going to assume you have a smart phone. Make sure you have all your social media accounts on there. You never know when you'll meet a fan or if the world around you inspires an idea. I also keep an old fashioned mini-notebook and pen in my purse. I jot down notes whenever the moment strikes. Keep you tools close so you can use them when you need to.

4. Reward yourself
Now that I've been bite free for two months, I've started rewarding myself with fun new nail polish colors. I've also been playing around with Jamberry nail wraps and I'm planning on treating myself to a real manicure for my birthday in November. Knowing I have treats to look forward to keeps me on track.

Set mini goals for your marketing plan along with pre-selected rewards so you know exactly what you are working toward. Make it a whole week with a marketing effort everyday? How about drinks with your best friends. Make it a month? Go ahead and get that signed, limited edition hard cover you've been eyeing.

5. Cut yourself some slack
I haven't slipped yet, but I don't suffer any delusion that I will never bite another nail. That's unrealistic.

Know that you will probably go through periods where you don't market. Maybe you have a horrible week, or a great week on vacation. Life happens. No need to make excuses. Don't beat yourself up. Offer yourself grace, and then make a plan for getting back on the wagon. Slips aren't the end of the world unless you let them derail you completely.

Once you get into the habit of promoting your book daily, you'll be surprised how easily it becomes a natural part of your daily activities. No matter who your publisher is, it's up to you to keep your book in front of readers. Simple daily tasks can add up easily and make a big difference when it comes to sales. Try it for a month and see if you can become addicted to marketing.