To briefly explain the Genre Game, let’s imagine you own a beauty salon. Your immediate first customers will be women seeking a stylist to cut, color or style their hair. One of those women might bring in their child for an appointment. Now you’ve found a Cross Market and a new customer, children, and you stick a sign on your window stating that you style kids hair too. One afternoon, one of your stylist mentions that she does manicures, and you set up a station for her where she can do manicures and pedicures and another sign goes into your window. You’ve Cross Marketed further and your customer base just grew again. After that, you put a few shelves up and stocked them with shampoos, conditioners, hair treatments, brushes and combs. Have you gained more customers? Not exactly but you have gained more sales from your existing customers.
The point of this example is simple. Cross Marketing works on a variety of levels for new exposure, but it also helps with creating stronger ties to your existing fans. There is another, very important point to make here. Like the beauty salon, you, the author, must deliver quality to the customers. Bad hair stylists are more likely to lose customers than gain them, and broken promises are guaranteed to create nothing but failure.
Another example – A picnic. It was just a July 4th weekend here in America and I went to four different picnics, so this one is fresh in my mind. Say you want to have a simple picnic, toss a few hot dogs and burgers on the grill, whip up some potato salad, maybe bring a watermelon and don’t forget the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for the S’mores. Nice. But say you want to have a small picnic for friends. For that you might pack some cold fried chicken, a grilled veggie salad and oatmeal cookies. Yum. Now perhaps you’re planning a romantic picnic just for two. This time you may want to grill some lamb chops, take great cheese and a crusty loaf of French bread and a bottle of wine. The primary genre here? Picnic.
In this case we’ve looked at an extremely broad genre – picnic – and created different sub-genres to market to.
These examples may seem elementary but everything about good marketing and Cross Marketing is extremely simple.
If you’ve written a mystery, “Mystery” is your primary genre but it’s just the jumping off point for your specific Cross Marketing efforts. You need to explore deeply into your manuscript to discover how many possible sub-genres you can Cross Market to. Is your mystery a period mystery? Does it have a little steampunk flavor it? Is there romance involved? Are there paranormal elements in the book – ghosts or supernatural creatures or paranormal events? Is there a hint of horror in your story? Is the target reader primarily young adults? Because remember, a great additional target for YA is women, 35-50 years of age. Is it a cozy mystery or does it have hints of sexuality or erotic romance in it?
Now a yes answer to any of these questions might cover only a minor subplot to the story … but if so, it is a terrific cross marketing avenue. Stretch out your mental minions like curious fingers and comb through your book. If you’re marketing it hard to mystery readers, it could be extremely profitable to slip in and do some marketing to groups that fit the various subgenres you uncover. You shouldn’t go to a Romance audience and call it a Romance Mystery, but you certainly can go to a romance audience and tell them that your book is a Mystery with some romance.
Literary agents pretty much perfected the Genre Game while trying to pitch and sell books to major publishers. There’s no reason we can’t use it to help get more sales for our books. Playing a GREAT Genre Game is all about understanding the target audiences you’re going after. Do some serious research. Granted, there are a few genres that simply can’t play this game – children’s books, non-fiction and extremely hard erotica, for example. But generally, every other genre can grow an audience simply by taking itself out of the genre pigeon-hole.
Take the challenge and see what you can learn about your own book. Write down every descriptive word you can think of about your story and explore the possibility of exposing your book to that audience. You’ll be amazed how many options are available to you!
Next week we’ll discuss … Locating YOUR Cross Markets. See you then!
Author Success Series: Cross Marketing