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Marketing Strategies For Writers
The Best of Times and the Worst of Times
There is some good news and some bad news if you are a writer. First the good news.
Anyone can get published in today’s world. If you have an idea, a computer and internet access then you can be published. No longer do you have to struggle like the writers of old, hoping against hope that an agent and/or publisher will accept your work and give you a signing deal. Just write your book, download it into an ebook format, and publish it online.
Now for the bad news: anyone can get published in today’s world.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of books published each and every year. There are over a half-billion websites in existence right now and hundreds are being added each hour. That, my friends, is serious competition, and it creates a daunting task for any writer. How do you promote in a world of promotion? How do you market your book when seemingly every other person on the planet is marketing their book? When you are the proverbial needle in a hay stack, how is anyone ever going to find your book?
It is that problem that we are going to address in this article. The following three suggestions just might help you to overcome the odds and find success in the literary world today. Hopefully we will help to answer the question “how do I get published.”
Know Who Your Audience Is
There are over seven billion people in the world today. If I were to tell you that they are not all prospective buyers of your book, you would most likely agree, would you not? And yet so many people self-market their books as if everyone on the planet is a possible buyer. I submit to you that it is a waste of time to target every living being in the world.
Who is your audience? It seems like a silly question but it is a very important question to answer. Who would be interested in your book? Once you can answer that question then you know who you should be marketing to.
Try this exercise on for size. Write down a description of your core reader. What do they look like? Who are they? What do they do? What are their interests? You are the author of your book so you should have a pretty good sense of who the reader will be.
For instance, my novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” would have a reader that looks something like this. He/she is twenty-five years old and lives in a big metropolitan area. They are Liberal with strong leanings towards the environment. They are either in college or they have gone to college, and they have children. They are concerned about the world, have a cynical side to their personality, and they love to laugh and have a good time.
That is the person I am trying to interest in my book. I have zero chance of interesting a 70-year old farmer in Iowa, and I sure won’t interest a 35-year old Conservative in North Dakota, so there is no point in trying to do so.
Lest you think this is a strange approach, remember that every major ad campaign for every product ever marketed has taken the same approach. Do you see commercials for feminine hygiene on Saturday morning cartoons? Of course not! Do you see Black & Decker commercials on the Food Network? Of course not!
Know who your audience is and then proceed accordingly.
Find a Small Group of Like-minded Readers
Now that you know who your average reader would be, it’s time to narrow down the field a bit. Taking my own example, consider the fact that I just named a demographic that numbers literally in the tens of millions. That is way too large a number for me to be concerned with. I do not need to sell my book to ten million people and truthfully I never will no matter how hard I try. What I need to do is shrink that number down a bit so it is manageable and doable.
Why? Think logically for a moment. If you are a writer with a limited budget and limited time, how are you realistically going to reach tens of millions? Sure, you can go for the “flood Facebook and Twitter” approach, but you will be joining millions of other artists, musicians and writers who are doing the same thing. You know this to be true if you are a Facebook fan. Each and every day there are millions of Facebook users who are promoting something. It eventually gets to be background static for the average person logging onto Facebook. I, for one, don’t even pay attention to the latest promos by local artists, and I don’t think I’m alone in that respect.
Narrow down your field. Thousands of solid prospects are better than millions of iffy and shaky prospects, so go after the thousands. If you can find a thousand devoted fans it is infinitely better than finding a million people who could care less.
Heresy you say? Not at all and here is why.
How many advertisements do you see during any given day? I would venture to guess that the average person see hundreds of promos on any given day, from store advertisements to labels on products in your house to advertisements on television and online. Eventually they all become meaningless, and your promotion will become meaningless too.
Instead, let people know you as a person. If you are on Facebook, quit promoting your book and start promoting you as a human being. Get interested in other people, and let them know you as a living, breathing human being. Making personal connections will pay huge dividends over time.
When I am blogging, I rarely if ever try to promote my book; instead, I blog about my life and my experiences, and by doing so I allow people to know me. It is that human connection that will prove valuable in the long run.
Join writing groups that are related to the genre of your book. Get to know them, and partake in discussions with them. Eventually the subject will roll around to your book, but it won’t be because you bombarded your new friends with your promotions, and your new friends will be much more receptive because of that fact.
Desperate Times Call for Calmness and Patience
When everybody is doing the same thing, it is quite easy to get lost in the numbers. The writer who finds a new approach is the writer who will find success in today’s world.
Get rid of the “me syndrome” and adopt a new approach, one based on a small group of targeted people who you will get to know on a personal level. I firmly believe that in a world of egotists it is the humble man or woman who will be noticed. Determine who your targeted audience is, narrow it down to a manageable number, and then get to know them as people rather than buyers. You just might be surprised with the results.
Remember, you are in a marathon and not a hundred-yard sprint. Overnight successes do not happen often; in fact, they are quite rare. You have to pay your dues and that takes time and perseverance. It also requires that you think outside the box. Just because everyone else is doing something does not make it correct. The numbers game will swallow you up and you will fade into obscurity unless you find a way to set yourself separate from the crowd.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)