Marketing 101

Posted: June 21, 2011 in Writing
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It has been…too long.  Perfect example of life catchin’ up with ya.  Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t have time to write, dream, or create.  Don’t let that get you down though!

There’s no better time to tackle this next subject than when I’m in the midst of preparing to market my own book.  Don’t be naive about marketing–it’s a ton of work.  And, if you’re starting with marketing right when you’re about to list your book for sale, then the bad news is that you’re behind the eight ball.  That’s because marketing is largely derived from who you know…your network.  Unfortunately, networks don’t grow overnight.  Leads to our first rule of marketing:


You don’t need a book to start building a network.  But, once you have the book, you’ll need the network to market and sell it.  So, start now.  Start with interest groups.  If you like gardening, join a gardening club.  Same for cars, painting, model trains, Star Trek, writing (duh!) what-the-hell-ever.  Just get out there, don’t be bashful, and start meeting people.  Once you meet them, suggest going to coffee or lunch.  Listen to them in order to determine what they like to do–and then ask them if they want to do it.

This isn’t a one-time thing though.  You don’t just water a plant once and then leave it alone to wither and die.   Maintain steady contact with your new network (by steady, I meant to imply you should not stalk!  Every relationship is different, but seeing a network contact every 2-3 months is a healthy frequency).  Soon, you will have “rolling” meetings with network contacts, where you may have 2-4 every week.  Why spend all the time to do this?  These are the people that will buy your book, and more importantly, these are the people that have their own networks where they can spread word of your book.  You know them, but they may know 100-300-1000 people you don’t know!  That’s power of the people!!

There’s one word that underlies building a network, and all marketing for that matter–selling.  If you hate that word, and if you think it has only negative implications, then you’re in for a tough haul to get anyone to buy your book.  If your goal is to actually sell books, rather than just using them as glossy coasters around your house, then you will need to be relentless in your sales.  Our second rule of marketing:


Okay.  Your inner salesperson may be a molecule, rarely (if ever) called upon for duty.  Your inner salesperson may squeak like a mouse.  Your inner sales person may be like the Cowardly Lion (put ’em up, put ’em up!).  Or, your inner salesperson may be the other side of the spectrum–some slick back, gel-ridden hair, big plasticky teeth, and verbal moves like a male salsa dancer.  Think Matt Dillon in There’s Something About Mary.  In either case, he, or she, or it, exists.  You just need to acknowledge its existence and begin to work on honing its skills.  Why?  Because especially at the beginning, you will be selling yourself.

For instance, to get down to specifics on avenues to market, you will be selling yourself to a bookstore to host your release party.  You will be selling yourself to your potential readers.  Remember, they don’t know what or how you write yet.  So, if they buy a book, they are buying it based on you more than anything.  You will be selling yourself to alumni magazines, local newspapers, local television, online reviewers (think Amazon reviews), agents and editors (if you go the traditional route).  In short, pretty much everything you do outside of actually writing your story is sales.  And, quite honestly, if you write without thinking about who you are going to try to sell the book to, then you’ll probably sell a handful of books for your selfish effort.  What is the core rule of sales?  In my humble opinion:


Perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me was rejection at an early age.  I won’t get into specifics, but I will say it was fourth grade, and involved getting three “no’s” from three girls in a class of about 25 students.  The next day, naturally, it was the group’s focus.  Eh, the next 2-3 years actually.  Was it devastating?  Uh yeah, I’m human.  Still stings to this day.  But, it also made me into a gorilla when it comes to the “ask.”  If you are petrified of rejection, you will never get to the ask.  And, if you never get to the ask, there can never be a “yes.”  Finally, if there’s never a yes, well, then you’ve just made a whole bunch of glossy coasters for your home.  Once you get past the idea of being rejected–because you will get rejected–then you’ll realize it’s all just a numbers game.  Some people you try to network with will say no.  Oh well–their loss.  Some people won’t want to buy your book, or won’t like it.  You’ll undoubtedly get plenty of rejections from agents and editors if you decide to go that route.  When you boil it all down though, every scenario is just a numbers game.   The more you ask, the more you get.

The summary of Marketing 101?  Build a network, build your inner salesperson, and build your fortitude against rejection.  We will undoubtedly visit Marketing 202, where more specific marketing ideas are visited, with their corresponding pro’s and con’s.  Talk to ya soon!


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