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What do you wish you had an unlimited supply of?
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To be perfectly honest, I wish that I had an unlimited supply of marketing–both know-how and outlets, in which the cost never meant sacrificing for months and pinching down the grocery bill. Marketing isn’t always about knowing how to market, but having access monetarily to the outlets that can get you before the readers. And, it costs a lot to do this. Most authors can’t afford it, and therefore they struggle to find their audience. With readers scattered across the glob engaging on multiple platforms, and having interests that run the gamut, you could theoretically reach them anywhere. However, they’re not congregated at the same time and place.
Good luck to the writer seeking readers who doesn’t have a strong budget, and isn’t a natural winner. I’m entirely serious. Without the “it-factor” and without a budget, you’ll struggle a great deal. Marketing isn’t getting easier either. Larger, well-padded, companies are paying big bucks for their content to reach social media users. You’re literally competing on these platforms for views with products that aren’t even in your niche. From Film to food, your book will have to push through the noise of advertisers, and quickly grab someone’s attention to get that coveted click. And their attention isn’t unlimited. You have only seconds!
Most potential readers on any given social media platform really aren’t interested. They’re there to decompress. How they hear about new books? Word of mouth from other readers in their reading groups. How do the taste-makers and influencers hear about new books? From the big publishing house release rolls. Most likely you’re not on those. And mid level writers aren’t there either, even if they are published by a big name publisher. They promote only the top tier.
Some authors are lucky enough to rise up to the USA Today bestseller list. That’s another arena in which authors are often found. However, without sales and readers already in your pocket, you won’t get here either. I feel your frustration!
Thus, marketing is a losing strategy from the get-go. In most cases, you’re trying something others have done before you. Just because it worked for one author or even three of them, it doesn’t mean it will work for you, too. That’s why having unlimited funds and know-how, as well as outlets is imperative to the success of a writer’s career. It’s no longer about just writing a great novel. You’ll need tools beyond the scope of the creatives niche: marketing skills and likability, not just examples of other’s success.
So you might say, what about those sites that promise to put your work in front of thousands of readers? Using those book promotion sites can be helpful, but they’re costly. Most of the folks following them are other writers (who can be readers) that have no time for your book. Readers, also, don’t like to be hammered with a lot of email or advertisements. When they look for a new book, they browse a shelf (virtually or real). In my experience, banging on their door and throwing your book in their face is highly ineffective. They ignore almost all such pitches.
Let’s try something else: printing cards to have the local bookstores include in bags is a great promotional tool. It’s a small reach, yes, but gets a good base started in an appropriate space. Keep in mind: they must be of high quality! Do you know what to write on them to get a reader’s attention? You’ll need to print a lot and go to physical book spaces to drop them off. You may not always be welcome, but you must always be gracious. Understand that you’re not the only author attempting to market your book, and the sheer number of those trying these avenues may be overwhelming to staff at stores and libraries. Not to mention that some authors are just not good at socializing and may have burned the bridge before you got there. You may have to rebuild it!
Let me get you started with factors that can help you build that positive relationship with readers and staff at stores and libraries.
Promotional items are another reason your cover matters. They’re going to see the cover of that book and if it catches their eye, they’ll look for the genre (if the cover hasn’t given it away), and then read the blurb. If your blurb isn’t up to par, it’s going to speak volumes about what the reader can expect from you.
Think of the book blurb as your sales pitch. Logline writing is a great thing to practice, not just for scripts movies. You’ll need that to drew them in. Then a short paragraph pitch about your book to hook them. It takes a lot of skill to write these, and it is an art of its own. That’s the know-how of marketing.
I honestly recommend a course in writing loglines, as well as marketing courses, for all writers. It’s not a waste of your time if you intend to sell your work. Each logline will be a unique struggle. Hopefully, with practice, you start to get to know what works, what is mediocre, and what flat out fails. It’s better to start with mediocre than to screw up with a fail. Regardless, polishing that logline is a struggle we all endure and must if we intend to make a career of writing. Did I mention unlimited patience is a great resource to have, too?
Book blurbs remain one of the biggest struggles for me in the field. How do you boil your work down to a couple epic paragraphs that will make a lot of people stop and say–I want to know more? When you’re so involved in the writing of your book, you get overwhelmed by the details. There’s a lot to tell about! But, on the blurb (back of the book or promotional postcard), you’re going to want to speak to just the basic level of the story and make a reader care.
Knowing how to write a blurb and logline, having outlets on which to promote, and the funds to do so would be for anyone who has done their due diligence to learn their craft a great service. If I could have that in endless supply, I’d be all set. The rest, I don’t mind struggling through. The pangs of writing are why I write. I don’t write to become a book marketer, and it is a tragedy that our system has evolved to force this on creatives such as authors.
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P.J. MacLayne says
Blurbs are tough! And everyone seems to have a different philosophy in how to write them.
Richard Dee says
I’m with you all the way. I love writing and hate marketing, it’s alien to me. I’ve never had to sell anything and find the nuances of the art hard (and expensive) to master. All I want to do is write the stories, instead, I spend too much time trying to figure out how to get people to notice them.
Daryl Devore says
So very true. The line I am most of tired of – someone announcing a new media site that is “the” place to be and we all have to be there – yesterday!