Five Marketing Tips
Almost every writer I know shies away at the mere mention of MARKETING!
Writers tend to spend a lot of time shut away in isolation, existing in fictional worlds. It’s daunting to emerge, blinking, into the light, and start selling our wares/ourselves. And people are no more likely to respond to someone constantly saying Buy my book than they are to double glazing, guttering and fascias, mobile phones …. sales people.
But how are people supposed to find our books if we don’t shout about them. It’s an increasingly frenetic world. Even people given a lot of media exposure are unlikely to manage even Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame.
So, here are a few thoughts – some from speakers at last week’s conference at Foyles, Charing Cross; others I’ve absorbed from reading about marketing, and a couple from my own experience.
1. WRITE THE BEST BOOK you possibly can. This is the one area over which writers have control. CJ Lyons, best-selling, American author, says the question should not be How can I sell a million books? but How can I write books 1 million people want to read?
2. THE STORY IS KING. Sharmaine Lovegrove, film and television fiction talent scout, says the story has to win. Human beings respond to and thrive on stories, so a writer must write a story which readers respond to.
3. WORK OUT YOUR BRAND. Marketeers talk about branding, which makes sense for a bar of chocolate, a car, a televisions set – anything that is clearly a product. But how can you apply branding to a novel or to the person who wrote it? These are two sides of the same coin for an author. Marketing people ask What’s the story, and this is what a writer has to decide. What self do you want to put out there? Who you are and what story you want to tell about yourself needs to exists alongside the story in your book.
4. WRITE MORE BOOKS. It makes sense that if readers find a book by you that they enjoy, they want to read more. If there are only one or two books available, readers will forget about you. Harper Lee might have waited more than 50 years after To Kill A Mocking Bird to publish a second one, but most lesser mortals won’t get away with that. Five is generally thought to be the magic number. Phew – I’ve got a long way to go!
5. REACH OUT TO YOUR READERS. The best way to sell books is by word of mouth. If a reader falls in love with your novel, they will tell their friends. They’ll probably recommend it to their book group, who will tell their friends. If you’re lucky, and you nurture your readers, the effect will snowball.
All of that makes sense. All of that is doable even for the most retiring of authors. And yet, it remains so hard to sell your books, especially if they don’t slot neatly into one of the more popular genres such as crime, romance, or supernatural. Which is probably why despite all the distilled wisdom above, I am saying Please buy my books!