Viral marketing is marketing that spreads like a virus (a good one) via social networks and blogs. As webopedia states it, viral marketing is "positive word-of-mouth brand awareness."
Sounds, well, infectious, doesn't it? Wouldn't we all love to have Facebook's 300 million users reading our books?
What does this mean for writers?
There are a lot of ways to apply viral marketing to a writing career. One of the strategies that caught my eye is a free giveaway of a product.
The trick is not to give away something equivalent to the clothes you toss out when cleaning your closet, but to give away something of value. In marketing this idea is called WIIFM. (What's in it for me?) In other words, don't just focus on what your website will do for you. Focus on what it will do for your readers.
For example, we see giveaways on published author sites, especially on blogs in exchange for comments:
- Anna DeStephano gives away a Dream Flutters necklace for posting on her blog, if your comment is chosen.
- Margie Lawson often gives away her coveted lecture packets when she guest blogs to the winning commenter.
- On Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, we gave a $25 gift certificate to the winning commenter of our online book Aspen Expose.
There is also information that's just plain free:
- Here on Linsey's Diary, I've created a list of Cool Links of important information for the writer who wants to become or to stay published. I hope to add to this list as time goes by. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
But I'd like to apply the idea to something else
Someone mentioned to me recently that more and more, editors and agents are looking for online excerpts of your writing. For the not-yet-published, this usually means the first 500 to 1,000 words of a manuscript.
We all know how important the first chapter, the first paragraph, even the first line of your manuscript is. If you haven't grabbed most editors by the first page, many of them stop reading.
So how can you make your excerpts worthy of an editor's or agent's attention?
Think of them as a free giveaway.
And now for the hard questions to ask yourself:
- Is my excerpt something a reader would think valuable? Or is it the equivalent of a cheap party favor?
- Is my excerpt something that could start a viral wave of fury? Would people be blogging about it? Twittering their friends about it?
- If my excerpt were the last thing I ever wrote, would I want to be remembered for it?
Yes, but no tougher than the demands of editors, agents, and your future readers.
How do you make your excerpt that good? Hmm. Sounds like a topic for another post. Stay tuned...
I'm really preaching to myself in this article. I intend to greatly increase my submission rate in 2010 and over the years I've learned beginnings are my biggest weakness. This year, I'm going to work on that and make my openings shine. How about you?