Monday, October 05, 2015

Marketing to Your Readers, Not to Yourself

I’d like to welcome author and powerhouse promoter, Randi Lee!

There’s a new trend in the publishing world: both traditional and independent publishers are looking more and more toward authors to market their own materials. It is becoming increasingly normal to find a request for an author’s marketing plans on agent and publisher submission guidelines sites. Thus, it is not only self-published authors who are tasked with the precarious job of self-promoting these days; more and more traditional and indie authors are playing the writer/marketer balancing act, too. Regardless of the publishing route we choose to follow, we, as authors, now find ourselves falling under a united flag: the flag of the self-promoter.

In one sense this is a positive, as it is uniting authors in new and exciting ways. I see authors coming together through various social media mediums to support each other and share their knowledge in the fields of marketing and self-promotion. It is bringing together three fragmented units of authors: Traditional, Indie, Self-Published. It’s reminding us that while our roads to publication are different, our goal in traveling those roads is the same: we want our books to be read. We all want to spread our words as far as they can go.

There is a hindering negative to this new trend, however. Just as a doctor’s specialty is in medicine and not in constitutional law, we are authors. Our specialty is in writing, not marketing. Yes, these two fields share commonalities, but they are different. Having spent over eight years in the marketing and communications fields, I can tell you that you may think you know how to write a proper marketing campaign—you know how to write a dynamite 90,000-word novel, after all—but you probably do not. Creative writing and marketing writing are two completely different elements. Authors are not inherently good at marketing because they are not inherently designed to market. I’ll explain…

Authors, the books you write are your own. They’re a recipe of you, comprised of ingredients you select to satisfy your story appetite. Your books reflect your values, they flow to the melody of your word choices, they sing of your character designs and they dance around the world you build. Authors often refer to their books as “their babies.” Rightfully so. Just as all of the elements of life come together in the womb to grow a child, so do all the elements of the world come together to grow your book. As much as you are writing for the reader, the book reflects you, it exposes you, it is you.

That’s nowhere near being a bad thing. The best books come from the heart. They come from that place deep inside you that no one else gets to see. The best books are unique and individual, telling, through similes and clever phrases, your story. For all of us authors to abandon what’s in our hearts and write only what we feel will appear to readers would make for a quite boring, quite mundane and quite redundant library. The art of reading, I think, would dissipate.

What is troubling about your book being all about you, dear authors, is that marketing is the exact opposite: marketing is the art of writing to someone else’s heart. It isn’t about sharing your message, about people understanding the hidden reasons behind why you wrote a certain scene or what you were trying to convey through your character’s clothing choices. It’s about connecting what you’ve written to the reader in a way that makes them feel special and understood, that makes them think the story is akin to their story. It’s about making the reader want to read your story because they can see their own story within the one you’ve written. The creative writing portion of your publishing journey was about you. The marketing writing portion of your publishing journey is about your reader.

It can be hard to determine whether you’re writing your promotional materials for yourself or for your reader. An easy way to ensure that you are writing your message for your reader and not yourself is to ask questions within your materials that include the word “you.” For example, in my recently released novel, Affected, the main character faces a loss when the love of his life runs away from him. I targeted readers who have been left by someone they loved in the following image teaser:



In this example, I spoke directly to the reader’s memories and emotions on the subject of loss. I asked them if something like this had ever happened to them. I asked them what they would do. I created an instant emotional tie between my reader and my story, thereby taking my book, my world, my message, and making it about them. Now my book has given the reader something: it’s provided them with a sense of understanding, a knowledge that they are not alone in what they went through. It resonates with them because they know what it is to lose, and reading about that loss gives comfort and provides validity to their experience. It gives their sense of loss a universality: they are not alone—not thanks to your book.

We want our marketing to be about us, our message, our story. Of course we do. We’ve put everything we have into these books. It can’t be about us, though. It has to be about the reader if you want to create those emotional and spiritual connections that pull cause readers to pull books off shelves. Make your marketing message less about you and your book. Make it more about what your book can give your readers. When you market, market towards your target reader’s emotions, past experiences, likes and dislikes. Market towards your target reader’s hopes and fears. Think about aspects of the book that can help them in some way or something in the book they can relate to. Use that as your pitch, and watch your book sales soar.

Thanks, Spunky, for having me on your blog today! I hope this information proves useful to you, Spunky’s readers. Good luck with your self-promotion and marketing campaigns. I hope that making it about the reader leads to exceeding successes!

Randi Lee is an author and blogger, as well as a freelance writer, editor and designer living in New England with her family and two much-loved dogs. She recently released her debut novel, Affected, and is currently working on its sequel, Ascendance. Randi loves sharing tips and supporting fellow authors. She often posts helpful advice and author spotlights on her website. Affected, her action-packed dystopian thriller, is available at all store fronts, including: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

27 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's great advice on marketing to your reader. Your example was really helpful too. Good luck with your book, Randi.

Elsie Amata said...

Wow, Randi, that was a perfect way to put things into perspective. Great explanation!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Nice reminder from Randi about who we should be thinking of when we promote. Best wishes with Affected.

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks Randi for the post. Marketing is a lot of work and often its broken up into fragmented time slots of here and there throughout the day. But we do the best we can do and keep learning.

Bish Denham said...

I'm pretty hopeless about marketing. But this is some excellent advice, particularly about using "you" in setting up teasing lines.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If it happened to them... now the wheels are turning! Thanks, Randi lee.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Randi has given me a lot to think about. Anything that helps with promotion is of interest to me.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane and Randi - what great words of sensible advice ... we prefer to know what we'll get out of others' books, than what they're trying to tell us. I know authors seem to be developing their own brand and life, and doing their thing to promote their books without pushing too much .. cheers Hilary

nashvillecats2 said...

Some good advice here Diane, will remember about piblishing when I do my new book.
Yvonne.

shelly said...

Excellent post, Randi. Hi Diane!

Jemi Fraser said...

Excellent idea - and I love your image and how you used it! Thanks for the tips :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks for visiting, everyone. I will catch up with you tomorrow.

Kelly Steel said...

That's great advice on marketing to your reader. Good luck with your book, Randi.

Yolanda Renee said...

Insightful, now to turn my head in the right direction, because it's still in the write direction. Total opposites for marketing!

Dean K Miller said...

A wonderful post and one writer's need to continually refresh themselves with. Authors often find their own fears keep them from marketing to their readers fears and hopes. So we stay comfortable, market to other author's, etc. and miss the market share that needs to be targeted.

dolorah said...

Getting where a book promoter is more important than an agent. All that marketing scares me into not writing. I'm so not a sales man - especially when it comes to selling my book (as its the same as selling me).

Lynda R Young said...

Great advice about marketing. It really is a different creature.

Murees Dupé said...

I do struggle with marketing. I haven't even thought that I'm not promoting to potential readers. I just tweet, or post about my book and hope someone will check it out. Thank you so much for sharing your advice.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Good advice. It seems so sensibility, but like you say marketing is a completely different field. And it uses the other side of the brain. ;)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Diane and Randi,
Good article that makes a lot of sense. Appealing to our readers' emotions is important.

cleemckenzie said...

Absolutely right and something authors need to learn and perfect. Thanks for featuring Randi Lee here.

Maurice Mitchell said...

That is an amazing tip and its interesting how the industry is so dependent on social media. The future is Twitter

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

What a concept. It's amazing how many authors don't do the most basic reading on marketing before they try to do it for their own book, their own careers.

Melanie Schulz said...

Brilliant as always, Randi.

Medeia Sharif said...

Wonderful example. One does have to make it about the reader.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOVE THIS POST!!!! I had not thought of it this way until now. It makes perfect sense.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Great advice--and perfect timing for me.