Sign-ups for this year’s Realm Makers conference went up yesterday. All my writer friends are excitedly talking about it, exchanging yarns from last year, and looking forward to going this year.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking, “The only way I could possibly go to RM is as a panelist, and even then they’d have to twist my arm.” Which set me daydreaming about what topic I’d talk about. Which led me to probably the biggest question all writers have.
HOW YOU DO IT.
One thing you must know first about all marketing: nobody knows what works. If publishers knew what books would sell, all books would be bestsellers. The ideal marketing is to put your product in front of people who want to buy it. But how to find those people? And how to entice them to buy your product at all?
Targeted marketing has become a big deal. Facebook ads that show ads only to a certain demographic of people who are the most likely to want the product. Or Amazon ads that only show you books similar to other books you’ve bought. (How many of us shop the also-boughts? I do!)
When I was in college for digital design, the whole focus of the course was on advertising. I learned a whole lot about advertising that I didn’t want to know. Want to know what I learned?
Ready for this?
All marketing boils down to hitting three points:
Lust of the flesh
Lust of the eyes
Pride of life
That’s all there is to it.
This book will give you FEELS. (Lust of the flesh).
This book has a PRETTY COVER. (Lust of the eyes, and boy do I buy books with pretty covers).
EVERYBODY ELSE IS READING THIS BOOK AND IF YOU READ IT YOU WILL BE COOL TOO. (Pride of life. I think a lot of lit-rit-chewer falls into this category. Like Mark Twain said, literature is something everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.)
Chris Fox has a nice little book about marketing. You find groups online where your target readers hang out. For instance, one of my friends markets her fantasy books with science-based magic to homeschoolers whose kids want magic but who disapprove of Harry Potter. She could target all kinds of homeschool communities.
Cozy mystery authors who write mystery + knitting or mystery + baking can target the baking or knitting communities.
Really, it’s not rocket science–hunt down the people who are interested in your topic. Then you have to work on your presentation. Instead of bombing into the party and screaming BUY MY BOOK, you have to rub elbows, hobnob, make friends. Maybe do a guest post here and there on blogs, or run an ad on their network. Do it quietly. People have to see an ad at least six times before it registers enough for them to make a decision about buying.
But if you spam their social media with BUY MY BOOK over and over, you’re going to get blocked. I see this happening with politics right now. The media is hawking so much hate and rage that people are blocking it out. The louder they scream, the more they get ignored.
Kristen Lamb has a great social media marketing book called Rise of the Machines. In it, she goes into the neuroscience of how we ignore ads. We’ve been saturated in advertising for so many decades that our brains have actually evolved resistance. We physically don’t see the ads anymore.
I notice this as we drive down the road. My hubby will say, “Did you see that billboard?” I look around. “Huh?” I didn’t see any billboards at all. My brain has filtered them out.
Big fat graphic ads don’t work so well. You know what work? Links. Like these. People click little links like these WAY more often than the huge ad graphics.
To sum up, marketing is one of those things that are simple but not easy. It’s all about schmoozing. And social media is terrible at that. Just look at the summary of last year’s advertising for Rachel Aaron’s books.
The number 1 best way to sell books?
Write more books. Talk about them when they launch. Quietly run an ad on a different book newsletter every month. Indielister is a goldmine of a database of ads and results. Keep an ear to the ground for industry news. None of the steps are hard, but they do require getting educated.
Now go out and make people lust after your products!