Monday, October 3, 2011

Strategic Marketing Pays Part I

Well, aren't you creative?  Why aren't you selling?  You may be able to write and publish your own book, but few people are buying.   What now?  You need to market your book(s).

Few writers/poets have had much experience with marketing, but it is essential to your success.  Marketing strategies can make you successful or keep you unknown.  Choosing the right strategies is not something you must have an advanced degree in.  It really comes down to common sense and experience.  Experience in buying, that is.

What makes you buy one product and not another?  Write this question down and answer it honestly.  When you are browsing online books, what makes you buy the one you did and ignore the rest?  Knowing this answer will help you set up your strategy for selling or promoting.

The first step in any venture is goal setting.  You must have a written goal.  What is your goal for selling your book?  'I want to sell a million copies to anyone who will buy one' is not a goal.  It is, quite frankly, a dream and impossible to reach.

Think SMART:
Take a moment now and write your goal within these parameters.  Look at it whenever you are dealing with marketing.  Hang it in your work area along with your log line and your promise to your readers.  Stay within the areas you've defined.

Your book is written and you have it up for sale everywhere online.  You've written your goal.  Now what?

Friends, I have been in customer service my entire life because I love working with people and I love selling.  Sales has always come naturally to me, and I have always been a top seller.  I'm going to tell you how I do this - I only sell what I believe in, what I like; and I only sell to those people I know or feel will like the product too.  That's the first secret.  AND I do not hit my relatives up to buy from me.  Forget them unless they love the genre in which you write.  Besides, some will expect your products to be free or discounted because you are related.

Target your audience.  Not everyone is going to like your book.  That's ok.  You want to find the reader who will like it.  Simply put:  for every reader who likes your book, they will refer you to 3 or 4 of their acquaintances who may or may not buy your book.  For every reader who hated your book, they will tell 10 of their friends who tell 10 of their friends who tell 10 of their friends and so on.  So know your genre and define your target audience.

Keys to selling your book:  a cover your readers can relate to emotionally, a short synopsis of your story, a carefully chosen pre-read from your book, and your log line.  Run these past your co-writers.  If they like them and are interested, so will the potential buyer.

What is your promise to your readers?  Write this down and be faithful about it.  Is it on your blog/website/author page?

I have said this before and I must state it again.  My fav author Edgar Allan Poe once said when he wrote, he thought of his audience and what they would want from him.

Make sure you have a professional webpage and/or blog set up and easy to locate.  Be sure you have built your author profile.  Run this past your friends too.

Do not - let me repeat this - do not use other's blogs or tweets to promote yourself.  It is tacky and a bad marketing technique which no one likes.  In every area of sales, there are cheaters, and advertising yourself as you 'pretend' to comment is a cheap shot that no one will like.  Furthermore, no one will buy your product.  Have you noticed on my site you now have to type in that fun word?  That's because I was being hit by automated spammers.  Thank heavens blogspot tags all 'anonymous' and puts them in spam for our decision.  Don't think there's no harm done because they are posting to older posts.  It is their link back to their sites (including pornography) to raise their status in search engines, or to advertise their own product.  Get rid of them immediately.  Besides the captchca, I have also put a 'watch' on posts over so many days old.

To those of you who advertise in this way:  earn your living the same way the rest of us do, and get off our backs.  We won't carry you on our road to success.  Earn your own sore feet.

Ahem.  Sorry about that.  Back to the subject at hand.

Set a decent price.  You may think your book is worth $100, but a reader who never heard of you won't.  Chances are you won't get $19.99 either.  If you were an established author with a loyal following (a goal you WANT to achieve), then you can get this price.  But you are a new, unknown author.  Many authors price their first book at 99cents to start, just to attract business.  Personally, I wouldn't go higher than $3.99.  Why?  Because when I buy from a new author, that's my comfort zone.  What's yours?

Is your book professionally done?  In other words, have you edited it, revised it, added meat and taken out fat, and checked spelling and grammer.  This is the most important step to bring in loyal customers.  Think of two books you bought, each from a different author.  Why did you buy no more books from the one author?  Why do you run to the store to buy the newest book out from the other author?  Think like the buyer, not like the parent of your sweet baby book you are so proud of.

Research is important in all areas:  writing, the cover, the typesetting, the marketing.  Everyone raves about Amanda Hocking's success, but she used research to get there.  She said in an article that she went to her library and did research on fantasy books, looking for a way for hers to be different.  Well, by golly, it worked, didn't it?

One of your goals should be to advertise.  I once sold door to door for a well-known company.  One woman started her business and quit within the month.  Why?  Well, as she said, 'I sat at my kitchen table and waited for people to call me, but no one did.'  Sorry, guys, if you want to be successful, you have to do the footwork and come home every night with aching feet.  I wasn't much of a fan of James Patterson, until one day I saw him advertise his book on TV.  What nerve, I thought, I love it!  I ran to the library checked a couple books out, was impressed, and now I'm a huge fan of his.  I love his work.  Gimme, gimme, gimme more James Patterson, please.  Using this method, he earned untold number of loyal readers, and loyal readers is a MUST ACHIEVE goal.

Tired of all these vampire stories?  They are all the same, aren't they?  Well, so was I until Joleene Naylor came along.  I followed her blog off and on, never commented.  Then she advertised to interview one of your characters.  I jumped at the chance to introduce Geraldina to more people.  Joleene was smart with this strategy.  Plus she played along skillfully.   She had one of her main characters Katalina do the interview.  Yes, I must admit, I now love Joleene's blog (I even comment) and bought her book 'Shades of Gray' - a vampire story - and can't wait to read it.

Speaking of blogs - I often hear bloggers say, 'I can't get anyone to follow me.'  Same advertising here, friends.  However, there is one unmistakable way to increase your followers.  Follow others' blogs and comment!  I don't mean the 'if you follow me, I'll follow you.'  Choose blogs you like and be active.  People get curious about commenters.  And it's the karmic rule.  Be nice and pay attention and you will get that back.   And advertise.  Advertise your blog on Twitter, Shelfari, BookBlogs.ning, Linkdin, Goodreads, Facebook, writers' sites (you are on writers' sites, aren't you?), google +, and anywhere else you can.  You can even advertise on other bloggers's sites although most charge.  And the best part?  You'll make new friends!

Speaking of blogs, keep them short and simple.  And no, you don't have to blog every day.  No one has time to read your lengthy blog daily.  Some bloggers blog all day long.  Forget it.  I don't have time to follow you through your, um, exciting day.

Pick bloggers with your interests.  Did you know on your blogspot blog at the top is a next button?  Click it and it will take you to a blog with similar interests.  On Twitter, in search, you can type '(such and such) writers' and it will find writers you can follow.  Please don't type 'such and such'.  Type the genre.

Whew.  Talk about a long blog.  Finally, find your niche.  Join groups and be active.  May I suggest our WMD (Writers of Mass Distraction) groups found on BookBlogs.ning, Shelfari, Goodreads, Facebook - and I'm sure I'll forget some.  To be successful as an Indie Author, you must have groups.  I would also suggest  Click on community and join.    There are many different groups there (hey, WMD is there too).  Join these groups.  Our friends in our groups keep us from giving up.

Ok.  I've made this segment long enough.  Next time I blog, we'll get into the nitty gritties of successful marketing.

One of my writer friends sent me a little treasure:
·   On the road to their destination
Lie the bleached bones
Of countless millions
Who – when at the brink of decision
And were lost.

Let me add one of my favorites:
·   With every creative act, you light a fresh candle for a darkened world - and that in itself is a powerful source of joy for your life.  Thomas Kinkade
So, if you have a talent, share it with the world, as this great man did.  May our successes be equal to his successful journey, and may we be able to sing this song at the end of our careers.

Return with your notepad for my next blog as we dwelve further into the secret world of successful marketing.



William Kendall said...

Donna, very, very well said. This is the sort of thing that should be required reading for writers.

I can only say... Bravo!

Norma Beishir said...

Hi again, Donna--let's see if I can do it this time.

This is all very good. Some of it is in agreement with the webinar Beth and I attended last week.

I don't believe it--I've a got a captcha here I can actually see (I hate these things).

Beth said...

What a great post! I'll be going back from time to time to re-read it...I agree with William...every writer should read this.

The Desert Rocks said...

Donna, this is a wonderful post. I really think you give everyone a lot to think about. Even the old advertising-sales-marketing machines like myself see tons of golden gems among your words. I just wish I had a book to market. Unfortunately, I'm not really at that point just yet, but soon. I need to concentrate on my revisions. Meanwhile of course I visit all my favorite blogs--like yours!

Roger Lawrence said...

That was good and useful as always. I wish I could just sit and wait for the revenue to roll in but I know I finally have to get off my backside.

DM said...

William, thank you for your comment. I am honored by it, as always.
Norma, thank you also. I'm glad I'm along the lines of the webinar.
Beth, thank you. I think my next post will be even better.
The Desert Rocks, thank you! I know you've had Marketing experience so I'm thrilled you like the post.
Roger, you are too logical to sit back and wait for the revenue to roll in, and frankly, your works deserve publishing.

Mike said...

Donna, this is excellent. I especially like the SMART acronym. You are also correct, SPAM is probably the worst way to advertise. Actually, when marketing a book, advertising is not all that effective.

DM said...

Thank you, Mike, and you are right. Advertising doesn't pay, unless you're at the top with loads of loyal followers.

Elizabeth Maginnis said...

Boy, you read my mind. I sorely needed this advice and encouragement. Excellent excellent post, Donna!

Pk Hrezo said...

Awesome post, Donna! It really does take work and wit to market yourself!

DM said...

Elizabeth, I'm glad it is something you need. I think we all need this.
PK, yes, sigh, so much work and wit to market ourselves. And that's where many drop off.

Lena Winfrey Seder said...


I was blown away! You really have great insight and understand marketing. Great advice! Definitely want to see part 2. Love the pics and the whole tone of the blog. Take care!

DM said...

Thank you so much, Lena. I value your comment.

K. L. Gore said...

Definitely helpful. Thank you.

DM said...

You're welcome, KL. Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Hello D ... This is Florence coming to you by way of "anon" as google has done it again :)

Great post and lots of good information. The be all and do all of our current publishing industry can wear a gal out, but do it we must. Or at least when we have something to "hoot" about.

Keep up the good works, keep writing and see you around the blogesphere :)

DM Yates said...

Florence, thank you for leaving this comment. You are right. This can all wear us out.

April Morone said...

I thought I'd posted a comment to your blog, but I might not have. Good blog post, with very good info for all writers. Ty for writing about all of this for everyone. :)

joleenenaylor said...

I did not know that about the next button on the blogs - I'm going to have to try it! :D

A lot of good tips and pointers in this! I know when I first started looking into self publishing that several authors groups I joined recommended the constant string of spam approach (one even bragged about how she would plug her books to customer service people over the phone, etc.) I believe that you need to have things out there, or no one will know, but there is a limit and that crosses it. And the sad thing is some of the authors that do this will try to make those who don't feel "unprofessional". It's such a delicate balance. I always try to stop and think before I post anything "If someone left this on my page/blog/etc how would it make me feel?"

The best sales improvement I ever had was when my 101 tips finally went free on Amazon (it had been free on Smashwords for a long time). But it only lasts for a few months and then people's attention is elsewhere. I think if an author had a sizable back list this would help them even more.

and thanks so much for the shout out! :D I had so much fun with Gerri's interview! Hee-hee! She's the first character that has ever silenced Jorick! Gwahahahahaha!

julihoffman said...

Lots of great advice! Writers wear SO many hats!!! It isn't enough to be able to write a book. You need to learn about editing, formating, marketing, promoting... It can be very daunting! I never knew how much time and effort that was involved in making a "book baby" until I tried to create one myself. Funny, but they don't magically write themselves! LOL A lot of hours and heart go into making a novel. I think the experience has only increased my appreciation for other author's work. :)

DM said...

Thank you for your comment, julihoffman. You are so right. There is so much to know and where is the time to write the book?