PART FOUR: Tricks to Perk the Prospective Buyers … Getting Attention!
Attention! Attention! We just love attention, but only the best kind. It’s a scary proposition, putting a few hundred pages of your soul out there for the world to see. But even more daunting than that, is the prospect that maybe no one will look. Shiver!
Fear not, that’s what we’re here to talk about today. Last lesson, we discussed your unique hooks and what makes you so special. This lesson goes a bit deeper and hopefully seriously gets the point across that without a platform, you will drown.
There are a million tricks out there to perk a prospective buyer. You’ve seen it all, from “wall-to-wall carpeting bait and switch” to “test drive and get tickets to the All-Star Game”. Just like car dealers and carpet companies, you are in business. Your product is your book. There are classic and bizarre ways to attract attention, but whatever you do, it must point favorably to the bottom line … sales.
Getting attention for your book can require nothing more than a kick-ass cover, or it may require something special to tip the scales. Let’s explore deeper.
- FICTION – Suppose you’ve written a novel about an amnesiac woman whose life is saved by a werewolf on a self destructive mission to end his own life. You know you’ve got a great twist and wonderful story but you also know that there are hundreds of supernatural romances on the shelves and you must find a way to draw attention to yours. Solutions abound, sublime to absolutely stupid but because you’re aware of the importance of “attention”, you examine them all. For example, your book cover can be fur. You may include a CD collection representing the music your supernatural hero used to help the heroine recover and hold her memory. Their songs. You may even develop a folded map to be inserted in the book that shows the route your main characters trekked during the adventure.
- NON-FICTION – Now, let’s imagine you’ve written a non-fiction how-to book about the care and maintenance of a person’s social media image. Of course you’ve done all the homework, researched deep and hard and already know that your subject is something people want and need to know. You’ve even presented it in a creative and entertaining way. Now what? To the drawing board. Should there be a downloadable program available to assist with the information? Maybe an attached workbook that helps the reader implement your advice?
- FICTION & NON-FICTION – Strange solutions after the reality of your book’s availability can get crazy too. Honestly, what book really needs imprinted mugs or tee-shirts to boost visibility? The book is already on the shelves … real or virtual … and frankly ladies and gentlemen, it’s too late.
Enter: The Platform. The reason we build an author’s platform is to give us a solid ground to stand on so we can hold our book(s) high over our heads and listen to the roaring cheers. The best way to fail, is to be down in the crowd shouting about your book while the rest of the world is looking up at another author’s platform! So, building your platform before the book is launched … while the book is being written … and as you conceptualize your success IS VITAL.
Here are a few free or very inexpensive ways to get your platform in line so that you and your book get the attention you need to assure sales.
- Be aware of your audience even as you begin imagining your book. Get down and dirty, do the research and clearly understand your prospective reader. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client with an already published book and yet totally unaware of who her readers are. This is especially prevalent among self-published authors. If you aren’t sure of your reader’s demographic, you’re treading water and may just go down for the count. Know clearly if you’re primary audience is young adult, children or a coming of age piece of adult literature. Urban Fantasy is not Paranormal Romance, and Erotica is not Mainstream Romance. If you don’t know exactly what you’re selling, how can you know who to sell to? Only you can determine this and only you can tweak it to reach the audience you really want.
- The computer age is marvelous! USE IT. Just as many authors are queasy about standing in front of people and speaking about their book, some are afraid to have a voice on the internet. Simple advice … get over it. You have tools, free and at your command right in front of your eyes.
- First, your website. If you don’t have one, get one. Build it yourself or pay someone to do it but you really should have a website. What’s on your website? Your book, of course. But I’m not talking about simply having a site, I’m talking about having a living, breathing site that attracts attention and is always changing. For example, aside from your main page which shows the cover or your book (or what you’d like to see as the cover of your book), you should also have a page that talks about how you developed the book. A page that explains the reason for your book. If it’s a fiction, you might want to have a page that features your characters, some of their background or even a few words from them. Have fun with this and UPDATE OFTEN. Make sure everyone you know gets an email every time you update. Constantly expand your email list. If you’re writing a non-fiction, join clubs and organizations that focus on your subject. Get people talking about your book and your website and …
- Imbed a blog. Yes, a blog. This should be updated at least weekly, preferably more than once a week and your blog should chart your course from concept to finish. Again, make sure everyone you know is informed when there’s an update. Keep your installments interesting and related to the process of writing your book or of being a writer. Make friends and when someone comments … be sure to respond … every time.
- Social Media. Don’t be scared. If you’re not already Twittering, FaceBooking, Linkedin or otherwise visible, I strongly suggest you do it. An Author’s Platform is built with followers, not hope (and as we all know, hope is a terrible strategy). The more friends and relationships you create, the stronger your following.
- Writing Groups, Reading Groups, Libraries and Organizations, OH MY! Become a joiner. Where ever there are readers and writers there is support, camaraderie and book buyers. Be careful though, don’t become that used-car salesman you hear about all the time. Be subtle, be honest, and above all, be supportive too. Make sure a few of the groups you join are targeted toward your buyer. Sit back and do some serious listening. There could well be a few successful authors in the group, or brought in to speak to the group, who have some great gems of wisdom for you. Let your mind percolate. When people talk of their ideas, imagine them working or failing and then focus on your own. Check out books on creativity. One of my favorites is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. There are a thousand ways to start thinking boldly and way, way outside the box. The Artist’s Way also has facilitators who do live workshops all over the country. Check it out and strap in for the creative ride of your life. Imagine knowing your target and finding the most amazing way to reach them. Sounds like sales to me.
In conclusion, Getting Attention is by far one of the most critical and important planks in your Author’s Platform. It’s a plank you must develop early and well to assure success whether you’re planning on traditional publishing, self-publishing, independent publishing or e-publishing. Whether you’re writing fiction or non fiction.
Stand up and shout NOW and get some well deserved attention!
Platform Building, One Plank at a Time
Lesson one, The Rhyme and Reason
Lesson two, Creating Your Book Business Plan
Lesson three, Developing Your Unique Hooks