Six weeks ago I answered the question What is Cross Marketing? It’s a way of finding multiple markets for your book, no matter the genre or basic target reader. It’s all about the TWIST you put on your thinking! Over the past few weeks we explored various ways of locating those possible Cross Markets and today, we’re going to talk about approaching the markets you’ve uncovered.
After you’ve explored all the possible Cross Markets for you book based on genre, subgenre, elements inside the manuscript (locations, character likes and dislikes, sub-plots) you have now identified a new groups of possible markets for your book. You must go through them carefully, perhaps test them in a small way before moving on to the next step. For example, if your book is a murder mystery and you’re seeking book clubs to promote and gain reviews through, you may want to look closely. What if that particular book club is partial to COZY mysteries? You must know this, because if your book uses colorful language or includes a sex scene or two, you have just barked up the wrong tree and it can become very ugly. The last thing you want is ANYONE for any reason saying something negative about your book or your tactics for marketing it. Know your genres and markets very clearly before you do anything. Mistakes like the one mentioned with the Cozy Mystery book club can hurt you down the road because people know people and if you write another book in another genre and your name is a little tarnished, it might not go well for you.
Cross Marketing can be risky business but only if you’re not paying attention to the details. If you are approaching gardening groups for your romance, make SURE your book has enough romance in it to be of interest as a Sweet Rose Smelling Romance. Many urban fantasies, mysteries, even horror and adventure books have some romance elements in them, but be sure they have enough to qualify … in other words, a quick sexual encounter is not a romance to most readers. A love story twisted into a murder adventure just might qualify. Be careful how you use genre, readers aren’t stupid and they know a romance, when they see one. A sultry look and dirty thought does not qualify.
Genres have been strict for many reasons but you need to only be careful of the primary direction you want to go with your Cross Marketing. Using genre means stretching it as far as is rational. Never go too far. A horror adventure about Zombies dying and decaying in a field will not qualify as a great read for a group of ecological earth renewal workers. Be practical. Of course, if your main character, the hero who saves the world is an earth renewal and sustainability expert, you may have something there, but remember to be honest about the primary genre. If you’re afraid to tell a group that the book is really about zombies, it may be the wrong group. Choose carefully what Cross Markets are best suited for your book.
SMILE AND MAKE NICE
Approaching qualified Cross Markets is a touchy feely thing. First of all, I don’t suggest that you approach more than one Cross Market at a time. It takes full attention to understand all the nuances of a new Cross Market and if you pound away at three or four, you might lose some focus as well as miss a few opportunities you didn’t see coming. For example, if you are planning to approach coffee shop websites in hopes of promoting you book because your main character is an avid coffee lover … AND you approach Mystery lovers book clubs because the sub-plot of your book has a mystery in it … AND you want to approach several paranormal clubs and groups because a portion of your book explores ghost interaction and paranormal events … it’s too much to go for at once. Choose one to start with, preferably the most promising target. Let’s say the Paranormal Groups is your first approach because the ghost and paranormal activity is a) in at least two thirds of your book and b) has the strongest interest target (just check out the number of followers on twitter or facebook for paranormal and ghost related accounts!).
After you join a group, you must make friends, get involved and PARTICIPATE. Yes, yes, I know that inside your mind all you’re thinking is “GET SALES” but this just doesn’t work that way. Every time you connect with one of these Cross Market groups, it should be in response to someone else’s post. Insert yourself into conversations and become a contributor within those conversations. Make sure you have your book clearly in the tag line of every response you make. After a few days you’ll have a good idea of how this particular group works and what their primary interests are. If it doesn’t suit you, quietly bow out. If it does, begin a subject of your own and NO, it can’t be that you wrote a book. This is a subject that interests you or it wouldn’t be in your book, so talk about it and make sure to leave an open ended question at the end of your post to invite responses!
Now, let’s say you’ve gotten one new Cross Market rocking, if it’s paranormal yahoo and online groups, perhaps now you can begin gaining twitter followers and facebook friends from these kinds of interest groups. Approach each person and group the same way, smile, introduce yourself, make friends, get involved and make sure there’s a tag about your book everywhere. Now, if someone asks about that book, you’ve gotten an invitation to pitch away!
The next target Cross Market you may want to approach is the websites. Business and interest websites are a little different, and the most effective ones are the ones that have no competition. For example, of your book is a paranormal romance and you get involved with every paranormal fiction and supernatural story website around, you will have some serious competition! Everyone can do that, you are better and can do something far more effective. Yes, have a presence, but remember, those websites are not Cross Marketing, they are direct marketing – marketing a vampire book to vampire readers, for example.
To do this WAY more effectively, let’s talk about the main character who loves coffee. Coffee websites sell … coffee. If you manage to sell a few books by being affiliated with their website, they have no issues because you are not taking sales from them. Research these websites, how many are there? What do they look like? Do they have a large following or small following – you can tell by how active the website is. If they don’t update daily or weekly, you don’t want them. But if they’re active, this is where the magic starts! You will need to approach the owners of these websites. Simply contact them and ask if you, the author of a murder mystery where the main character loves coffee, can participate in their website. They may permit you to purchase or place an ad for your book (passive, and not always the best option), or they may welcome you as a guest blogger (a great opportunity to not only get your name out, but also the name of your character and book) or perhaps they’ll let you create a daily or weekly feature on their website, like “Detective Moore’s coffee of the day”. You can choose a specific coffee the website sells or lists and do a little daily tip from the good “detective” to the website visitors.
Once you get permission, don’t dilly-dally! Get going right away. Don’t miss a beat, miss a day or a week. Be consistent with your efforts and you WILL gain sales, you’ll be amazed! If the company will only allow you an ad and it’s at a reasonable price, do it, and make sure something in your ad states that “Coffee and Detective Moore are the perfect afternoon reading mix!”
Move on to the next coffee website and start again. At any given time, you may be present on as many as five or six different coffee websites! HERE’S THE TRICK! No two websites are receiving the same thing. In other words, if you’re doing a daily coffee tip from the good detective on coffee website A, have placed an ad on coffee website B, then you need to do something different on coffee website C, D, etc. You can post excerpts from your book. You can run a contest to win a free copy of your book. You can create clues and do your own mystery on one of those websites – the contests run by Detective Moore, of course.
The last category I’d like to discuss is charities. If your book touches on or relates to a subject that will work as a public relations direction for you – i.e. your main character is fighting to save the rainforest, or help save a young girl suffering from cancer, or dealing with the plight of baby seals at the North Pole. These are important and wonderful directions in which to Cross Market, ESPECIALLY if you are donating a portion of the sales of your book to that charity.
You can take this further. You can create fundraisers for the charity through your book events, you can become a part of other events and make it always known that a portion of the book sales go to a particular charity … and you can ask to participate in that charities’ website much the same way you do above, in the “non-competitive business” section.
REMEMBER, to work this way you must seriously contact and discuss it with someone at the charity. They have rules, they have paperwork, they have procedures and they have specific logo images you can and cannot use.
Cross Marketing with a charity is a perfect way to create a new audience simply because many will purchase the book simply because it helps a cause they care about. Those people are readers and they have friends who are readers and most of these readers would have never been reached through the standard genre pitch form of marketing.
Now you have it. The approach to each Cross Market must be done carefully and with a gentle hand. You’re stepping into an arena that isn’t about hard sell, communicating with a collection of prospective book buyers who aren’t currently thinking about books, and talking to a new market where in most cases, NO OTHER AUTHOR HAS GONE BEFORE.
Feels kinda Star Trek to me. The final frontier? SALES!
Next week we’ll discuss … How to Maintain your newly acquired Cross Markets.
Author Success Series: Cross Marketing