I totally understand that authors are a little skittish and afraid of everything “marketing”, but we all understand that it’s the way of the publishing world these days. It only makes sense that like the original cavemen, writers and authors would ban together for safety and survival … but is that really the way to thrive and grow? Yes, it has been a fight or flight world for hopeful authors over the last decade, but it’s gone beyond the really dangerous times. Now we can all breathe a little easier and forge ahead in this brave new publishing world.
So, how do we go about it? With the apocalypse over and all the industry shifts finally settling into patterns, it’s time to pick up our heads and look around. We’ve all been hiding under a rock … the Narrow Marketing Vision rock … so who else is under there with us?
I’m going to start with a question. In your facebook list of friends, how many of them are other authors? How many of your twitter followers are other authors? To effectively use these two powerful social networking venues, the ratio of authors to prospective book buyers and fans should be – 1 author/10 book buyers. I’m going to guess you’re nowhere near that.
Most authors I know have hundreds of other authors as friends and followers and I completely understand the attraction. After all, we’re all in the trenches together, struggling together. We need each other for pats on the back and encouragement, a shoulder to cry on or an understanding sounding board. That’s all good … except that far too often we get so caught up in our author camaraderie, we forget the real reason for social networking – to GAIN PROSPECTIVE BOOK BUYERS AND FANS.
There are major benefits to having daily connection with other authors. It’s like a college study group, everyone has a different area of study expertise – the industry news, which agents or publishers are closing or opening, who got signed and who decided to self-publish. It’s great feedback on how the industry influences your own work. You always know what genres are building and which are fading, which audiences are becoming lucrative and which ones are dissolving. Other authors are a wonderful resource for a plethora of industry information that directly affects you and your career.
As wonderful as all this information is and as supportive as all these friendships can be, there is a dangerous patch of quicksand there too and it involves marketing. In any given hour, in any given author twitter stream there are at least three new fangled promotional ideas someone tried and someone else tried and someone else found success with. Does this mean it’s a good idea to help sell YOUR book? Maybe, maybe not. Does this mean it’s worth your time and effort? Maybe, maybe not. I can honestly say that if it’s free, try it but if it takes your hard earned money, think twice.
The kind of quick and easy promotional ideas that float around cyber space for authors have two problems. First, everyone has seen them so everyone will be trying them. And second, they usually have nothing to do with seriously targeting YOUR prospective book buyer. In other words, all the cool marketing ideas under that Narrow Marketing Vision rock are generic and overused. Many writers and authors are so deeply embedded into their author connections, they completely forget that there are other ways to gain book sales.
Back to that social networking ratio – 1 author /10 book buyers. A serious author seeking sales success must treat this ratio like a precious gem. No, I’m not suggesting that you cut off all your author friends, I’m simply suggesting that you focus your social networking growth on prospective book buyers and fans until you reach that all-important ratio.
Now for the BIG QUESTION. Where do you find your prospective book buyers and fans? Time get down to the work.
What genre do you write? What is the clear demographic of your reader? Where are those readers? For now, I’m going to just grab a genre and target market out of the hat. If you don’t write in this genre, the system of targeting is the same, just focused in a different direction.
The hat says … drum roll … Urban Fantasy. What we’re going to do first is determine how to find urban fantasy readers, then how to approach them on twitter and facebook.
Start with a list of places those prospective book buyers might be by determining key words.
- Paranormal Romance (if it fits and there is some romance in your book)
This is just a brief list of subjects your prospective urban fantasy book buyer may be interested in. Now it’s time to reach out. Create a list under each category (if you ask twitter or facebook to search “vampire”, it will list everything under that catagory) and simply make friends or start following. If you do this for ten to fifteen minutes every day within your twitter and facebook accounts, you’ll be amazed at how your base will grow and that author/prospective book buyer ratio will improve.
There is a vital next step to all this. If you are currently heavily into author connections, you most likely tweet and facebook post “author and writer” related comments. This has to change along with your ratio of followers and friends. You’ll need to tweet and facebook post things about urban fantasy, your stories and exploration of the genre. Only by doing this can you hook your new prospective buyer followers and friends into wanting to chat with you and actively follow. Post a question of the day on your facebook. Create a fun exploration of an urban fantasy creature in your twitter stream … and ALWAYS REMEMBER to at least twice every day, post or tweet links to your website and where your books can be purchased.
Getting out from under the Narrow Marketing Vision rock is the first step to truly gaining bigger book sales.Next week we’ll be covering new avenues for marketing that your author friends haven’t even thought about yet … and in a few weeks we’ll explore how to delve deeper into your manuscript for prospective buyers that you can’t see on the surface of your genre.
Questions? Please post a comment and I’d love to answer.
FREE Ten Tools for Author Success Handbook available for download at The Author Success Coach website.