I hear it all the time: “Marketing is what you have to do after the fun of writing your book” and “I write because I like the creativity. Marketing is not for me”. The stereotype is that writing is the carrot and marketing is the stick. But is it? Is that really the case?
I didn’t set out to be a publicist and never thought that I would be good at it. Like you probably do, I thought of promotion as some sort of ‘black art’ – a nefarious combination of data-crunching (marketing) and blagging (publicity).
However, I was desperate to work in publishing so that I could work with creative people who with an inspired turn of phrase could unearth hidden truths or explain complicated ideas. So, I took the job in publishing that I could get - Marketing Manager. It was only after taking that job, and figuring out what a Marketing Manager does, that I realised that marketing and publicity can be fascinating, fun and creative. It was the job I was looking for, I just didn’t know it.
What book promotion is really all about is making people aware that a book exists and that it is more valuable to them than its price tag. Beyond that, it is pretty much up to you how you do it. You can create intricately targeted online ads and analyse the response in minute detail. You can ring a list of influential journalists and tell them how your book will appeal to their audience.
You can give talks, price promote, sponsor events, cajole your friends and neighbours, post photos of snowy landscapes with meaningful quotes on Instagram, write a blog, capture email addresses for a newsletter – whatever you want. The possibilities are endless and the more creative you are the better the chance that you have of finding the things that work.
Of course, there is also competition. There are a lot of books out there in the world and they are all published on the assumption that they are worth the reader’s time and money. If you don’t do something to make your book stand out you simply will not find your audience. You already know that, but here is how you can really make a difference: Don’t reluctantly ‘do’ marketing like a teenager ‘does’ their chores. Embrace it! Do it with enthusiasm, attention and interest you will not only sell more books but have fun in the process.
Here are some tips to get your head in the right place for marketing and publicity:
• You probably don’t want to think of your book as a ‘product’. So don’t! Your book is an idea and rather than ‘selling a product’ you are giving that idea a chance to thrive. Best of all, it is true!
• Instant feedback is an amazing and rare thing in life. If you create an online ad for your book you can see, in real time, how that ad is doing and tweak it continually to make it better.
• Journalists are not born grumpy. They are only that way because of the demands of their job (I am stereotyping here, but I am comfortable doing it). Once they understand that your book is of interest to them and their audience they can become champions of your work.
• Embrace storytelling in you marketing – brainstorm ways of reaching people and create narratives and anecdotes about your book that will entice readers and touch their emotions.
• Your book blurb and your ‘elevator pitch’ are like concise poetry. Every word matters so edit them again and again (just like when you wrote your book).
It is entirely possible that you ARE rubbish at marketing and publicity. Who am I to say that you’re not? But I really doubt it. It is more likely that you don’t have time or don’t want to devote the time that you have to marketing (after all, that next book is not going to write itself). If that is the case then you need to hire someone to help your book to stand out – but if you do be sure that you are an active part of your campaign.
You still need to be enthusiastic and interested enough to ask a lot of questions and suggest ideas. A good publicist or marketer will be happy to explain why they do what they do, will appreciate your input and will tell you nicely if your suggestions are not going to work.
Comments or questions? You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @CameronPMtweets or Facebook: www.facebook.com/CameronPublicity