Okay, I’m one of those strange people who loves marketing but hey, it wasn’t always so. When I started I was an intern at an advertising agency, then I was a writer at a radio station, then television, then something happened … I discovered that marketing is everywhere and applies to everything! I used smart marketing to job shop, to bring in customers, to be noticed, hell, even to get a date! Like most people, I didn’t actually love eating the spinach until I realized how much it could do for me.
Marketing authors with books to sell are in the same boat. They know they have to market their books, they just don’t exactly know how. Excuses abound for avoiding this task, but the truth is that until they actually SEE great results, they will continue to hate marketing. It’s time to back up and punt, regroup, and make a plan that will help you keep your sanity on the way to making some money at this author life.
TAKE A BREAK – You’re doing so much, buzzing like a beehive, trying to get as many sales as possible and unfortunately finding the results unsatisfying. It’s time to take a break and rethink your strategies. I’m not talking about a year long break, or even a month long break, I’m talking about taking a week away from EVERYTHING related to writing, marketing, and books in general. Lift your eyes and look around. There’s a whole word spinning wildly and marketing its way into everyone’s lives. How are they doing that?
Taking a break from the marketing activities you’ve become bitterly mindless about is a great start for rejuvenating your mind. Observe all the marketing around you, coming into your email box, texted on your cell phone, blazing across the television screen, over the radio, and along the roads you drive. This marketing thing is alive and well and not going away. There’s no reason you, a person who has written a great book (or 10), can’t be successful at marketing. Exploring marketing strategies and promotions for products that are NOT books can open a huge avenue of creative thinking. Ideas are everywhere, so maybe that 99 cent book promo or that silly genre lovers promotion aren’t the only way to go? Yep, they’re not, and taking a break is a sure way to help you recognize that it isn’t your efforts that are failing … it’s the promotional vehicles and concepts you’ve used that are failing you.
Take a break, take a deep breath, observe the marketing world around you, and let your mind become as creative as the day you imagined writing a book.
STOP LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER – Authors have a bad habit of keeping an eye on other authors’ marketing activities and forgetting the person who will actually purchase their book. Surrounding yourself with other authors creates a kind of language of its own, I call it AuthorSpeak. Every time we see a promotion for a book it seems to sound the same. We think the same, we pitch the same, WE ALL TALK THE SAME! I recently surveyed book buyers and discovered that most, even avid genre lovers, find it frustrating how almost every blurb, pitch, and promotion is similar. This makes it hard for readers to make a choice.
Often it’s a really good idea to be different. Have a different kind of book cover, make your blurb different from anyone else’s, approach your prospective book buyer in a different way, different place, with a different attitude.
Over your shoulder all the other authors are still doing the same things. Publishers insist that books sell better with characters on the covers, other authors insist that you can only write a blurb one way. New authors gobble this up because they’re all looking for short cuts and nothing is easier than following a formula. However, never forget that those formulas get old, and the people these formulas are suppose to attract, get bored. A glance over your shoulder shows that most authors balance their desire for success and their desire to get it easily. It’s a compromise. There are no short cuts, and sometimes going rogue is the most creative way to gain visibility. Leave those other authors behind and make your own creative marketing path. It is a road of trial and error, but it’s oh so much more fun, especially when it shows itself in your bottom line.
STEP AWAY FROM THE NOISE – Have you ever tried to have a conversation in a noisy restaurant? No one can hear what the other person is saying; conversation dissolves into grins and nods. Not an effective result if the intended conversation was meant to help you gain more book sales.
This is exactly how it is when you stick so closely with other authors to promote your book. Groups of authors, lumping together to sell books and promote future books make a whole lot of noise. The book buyer begins to feel like they’ve stumbled into a carnie, complete with a bearded lady, dancing horses, and a clown car loaded with even more noisy authors. Don’t get me wrong, these events are a lot of fun. We get to hang out with all our author friends, we get to share cool marketing ideas, and we get to stand with solidarity against this marketing thing. Yep, that’ll do it. The book buyers will go crazy for us! We’ll all sell a million books!
What you and your author friends have actually created is a small pond with a whole lot of noisy fishermen hoping for a great catch. Fifty authors might talk to hundreds of book buyers at that event, but all fifty authors are not going to make a sale. No one author will make all the sales. These fishing trips always result in purchasing fish at the local market because no one ever catches enough to cook for dinner.
Stepping away from the noise means using marketing in a more creative way. Instead of surrounding yourself with your competition (other authors), think of other ways and places to actually connect with your prospective book buyer. Is your book a historical fiction? Think about holding a book signing at an antique collectors’ event. Hundreds of people might walk through but without so much book competition, you can very possibly sell fifty books! You surprised the book buyer in a unique place, and you’ve been careful to choose a place loaded with people who like the events, era, and unique elements inside your story. If you thought a book event with other authors was fun, wait until you do something like this and sell so many books in a single afternoon. Now that’s fun!
TALK ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS – Earlier I talked about something I call AuthorSpeak. It’s a kind of code, a system of short cuts, formulas, and tools that when used so much, become ineffective. If everyone is giving away a free book, free books loose their value and the promotion looses its effectiveness. After all, if it was free, how good can it be, right? Besides, if everyone is doing the same thing, it no longer has power. And if everyone is doing that same thing to the same genre lovers groups, it falls on numb ears.
It’s time to say something different and say it in different places and ways. More important than that, it’s time to get more specific. Cater to your prospective book buyer’s interests. In essence, it’s time to say what THEY want to hear, not what you want to tell them.
A perfect example of this relates to the example above at the antique collectors’ event. Often authors fall into the trap of thinking that only book buyers buy books, but who are book buyers? Book buyers are people who do a million other things aside from just buying books. They shop at many places besides book stores, and spend a lot of time online at places that are not book seller websites. Why do authors limit themselves so much when marketing? Why not toss out a much wider net to gain book sales?
Don’t look over your shoulder. Those other authors will have a mess of reasons why you should stick with the program and ignore your need to expand your creative marketing agenda. Going rogue takes guts and you can do this. Center all your marketing and promotional strategies on the things your prospective buyer loves that are already in your book.
If your murder mystery begins with a body found in a veggie garden, focus on gardeners, guest blog on gardening and veggie foodie blogs, hold book signings at farmer’s markets, focus your blogs on veggie recipes with a murderous twist. USE THAT AMAZING CREATIVE IMAGINATION OF YOURS. The possibilities are endless. You won’t see any of your author friends there because they’re all doing their noisy lumped together thing. Do be sure to keep in touch with them though, after you make your bank deposit, that is.
What kind of really creative ideas can you come up with for the unique elements inside your book? There are a lot of book buyers out there who are waiting to hear from you.