Today’s guest post is from Jennifer Landry, a dedicated web journalist living in Malibu, California. Jennifer specializes in writing articles about business, marketing and the social media landscape. You can follow her on Twitter at @jkalandry.
Start Marketing First
This may sound counter-intuitive, but hang with me for a minute, and this will make sense. Start connecting with your potential readers long before you plan on asking them to purchase a book from you. Building your network, or as Seth Godin terms it, “your tribe” takes time.
There is only one sure way to build a tribe: consistently deliver value of some kind over and over so that people know they can trust you to deliver value over and over.
For writers, this means writing things that do one or both of two things–entertain and inform. Typically non-fiction writers work more on the “inform” end of the spectrum and fiction writers operate more on the “entertain” end. But there is no rule that says you can’t do both. The fact is, one of the reasons writing is so hard is that there aren’t really but a few rules, and they are more like general guidelines. Unfortunately, the same goes for marketing.
The Business You Are In
Writing has to be a business if you want to earn even a portion of your annual income. But don’t be deceived. Even if you are an established writer or successful author, you’re not in the writing business. This may sound counter-intuitive too, but unless you are writing exclusively for an audience of one, the business you are in is the marketing business.
This means, if you want people to read your book, you’ve got to do four things in addition to your writing.
- Learn how to market.
- Put what you’ve learned into action.
- Make plenty of mistakes and learn the lessons they so generously provide.
- Get better at marketing by practicing every day.
Your style of marketing will be different from anyone else’s. Marketing isn’t a science. Expect to do some experimenting and for some of those experiments to turn out differently than you planned or hoped they would. Just stick with it.
So What the Heck is Marketing?
Here is a simple definition of marketing.
Marketing is telling people about the value you can provide and the experience people will have when they invest in your products or services.
The people you want to be talking to, though, are not just everyone. You want to be spending your time talking to people who are probable purchasers. No one else matters to you because you don’t matter to them. They’re not going to buy your book no matter how blue in the face you get talking to them. They may listen to one of their friends, but they aren’t going to listen to you.
This means you have to know who your customers are, and where they hang out. Armed with these two bits of information you can make your marketing efforts deliver a return on your investment. Speaking of investment…
Marketing is an Investment in Yourself
Marketing for writers requires an enormous personal investment. The investments can be financially minimal. You are investing yourself in yourself. What more important investment is there?
What you must be willing to invest are time, effort, attention, goodwill, empathy, respect and personality. These are all very personal investments. No one can make these investments for you. And no one will make similar personal investments on your behalf if you aren’t willing to make them in yourself.
People Aren’t Buying Your Book
When people fork over their hard-earned $2.99 (if you’re lucky) on Amazon for the book you spent months, maybe even years, crafting with your blood, sweat, tears and other fluids, they’re not buying a digital version of your masterpiece. So what are they buying? They’re buying an experience that you are promising to deliver if they will only give you a chance.
So keep in mind, that it isn’t the sale you are after. You want the reader to have a magnificent, fantastic, orgasmic experience reading your book so they will buy the next one and tell all those people out there who you weren’t able to talk to how great you are.
What Do I Do Now?
Writers are supposed to write every day, they are supposed to read, read, read, every day, and now you find out they are supposed to market every day. It’s a classic Catch 22–you don’t have anything to toot your horn about if you don’t write, and nobody will be reading it if you don’t let the right people know about your writing and make it easy to find at a reasonable price.
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Book publishing has always been a chancy path to follow. There are no guarantees. You’re the only one you can count on. Your best chance is to start investing in yourself today. Just go for it!
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