Marketing for This Dummy
The idea of marketing myself and my work is totally foreign to how I viewed who I am and how people respond to me. I had always thought that if I was a superb clinician, if any practice put out a consistently superior product with demonstrably excellent processes and outcomes, well, that should be enough; people would obviously seek out the best, and we would be successful. In my view, advertising existed to encourage people to buy stuff, especially things they didn’t really need. So, when my agent, Maryann Karinch told me that if she was going to represent me and my book, I would have to hire a publicist, I embarked on a journey in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable world.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think excellence is worth the cost, though it remains a precious and rare commodity. I thought the book I had written was rather good, though I am better at judging literature as a reader than as an author, and I understood that if I wanted anybody to purchase a copy they would need to know that it existed and was worth the investment. But what this “platform development” and “marketing strategy” would entail was a bit frightening.
My anxiety was only slightly relieved during my first conversation with the amazing Fauzia Burke (FSB Associates). She mentioned how much respect she has for professionals who work with the dying, and this led to my usual disclaimer that I enjoy what I do and am fulfilled by it, that we do what we have gifts for, and that the “job from hell” for me would be to be a fifth grade teacher. Her immediate response was, “You’ve never tried book marketing!” She quickly qualified her comment, saying that it was not difficult, but that I just would not want to do it since so much of it is tedious, that only with persistence in the tasks can it pay off, and that she quickly recognized that I was not emotionally keyed to self-promotion. The nearly 18 months since that time (my website and blog went live in July 2019) have proved both that she was prescient and insightful and that she was right.
For me, writing a blog is a lot of fun if I have something to say, though since I have been trying to grow an audience I have to be careful that my opinions do not come across as offensive or insensitive. Through this past several months that has been both difficult and educational, as it made me consider the viewpoints of all potential readers.
The actual book launch publicity campaign was another new world; represented and stimulated by Fauzia’s colleague, Michelle Fitzgerald, I have now recorded at least 18 interviews for radio, podcast, and video, and have several more scheduled. Many other sites have published written interviews or book excerpts. Maybe the most gratifying moment was last week when one of my twin granddaughters (7 years old) brought up YouTube on their TV to find something to watch and, after I searched for myself, watched at least part of my Let’s Talk Death interview; she confirmed with my wife that I was talking about dying and then said, “I don’t get it.” Cailyn and Cathryn, I will continue to post and write about this, but I hope it is many years before you will have to “get it.”
Marketing photo by Merakist, dummy photo by Buzz Andersen, both on UNSPLASH