It’s that time again. You know, that special time of the year where you’re past waking up with a droopy smile because your book just came out. Imagine all those people carrying around copies of that novel you’ve been working on for the past few months (or years), and imagine them reading said novel – either during recess during class, or perhaps taking it with them to the beach or (and this one is by far my favorite) hiding it in their secret compartment in their office desk to read whilst pretending to work diligently for a boss who really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their pension fund. Or maybe they have it hidden in a special file on their computer right next to that raunchy porn filled file labeled “tax returns 1997”.
All in all: happy times.
What I’m talking about now is past that, once all the joy of release (that sounded dirty) is over and you’re left with one pertinent thought that hunts your every waking moment and a few lightly ones too:
“How in the flying fuck am I going to get my book from [Enter bookstore of choice] to your eReader or hands?”
Let me translate – How are you going to get people to buy your book?
I am by no means an expert in marketing. I am however a book addict and I do pay attention to what others are doing. Half of marketing is observation and highlighting things of interest that might work for you.
The other half is stealing that shit and reworking it into something completely different.
See, I am not a marketer – I’m just too blunt and honest.
The key to success in this field seems to be in two ways: Platforming and Funneling.
OK, OK, stay with me here. Those are fancy words but don’t let them intimidate you. Like all magic tricks once you look past the awe and understand the mechanics then you are a magician.
Let’s start at the basics. When you think of selling, most of you will think of selling on a mass scale to millions of people.
That way of thinking will overwhelm you. The trick that no one tells you about (and I know this having spent an hour of my life trying to find articles explaining this) is that all you need are 1000 fans. 1000 people.
Not a million. Just a thousand.
But even that is a stretch. Start with a 100. Find 100 people who share similar tastes, who will for sure like what you write and BOOM – instant 100 fans.
Instead of hitting the masses, just target the people that know will be interested in what you have to say. And that, boys and girls, is what we call Funneling.
See? That easy.
Now Platforming is even easier. A platform is the place atop which you stand to project your voice. In marketing terms this is your Mecca, the central hub of the Matrix – where all things go in and come out from.
This will usually be a website or a bog or something that your fans will be directed to. There they shall find riches and glory – or in my case, this blog, a link to my books, a short bio and of course my podcast. Everything they need to stay on top of … well … me. (OK yes I heard it too.)
Of course, just having that won’t cut it. This platform should be the basis of your voice – and I do mean your artistic voice.
Most opt for a blog – it’s cheap and easy enough to maintain and all you really need is a couple of ideas and a really unique way in which to transmit them. One of the most successful bloggers I know is Shannon Thompson. What sets Shannon’s blog apart is sheer diversity. You never know what she’s gonna talk about but you know it’s simple, direct and easy on the eyes. Another blogger I am friends with is Amber Forbes. She flips the table – blogging only about a specific topic. AEC Stellar has the most unique platform I’ve ever seen. The Author Extension Community feeds on a pressing need for creative people to band together and help each other out. That way AEC’s blog is getting massive traffic and some good contacts – all the while helping out people. For zero profit.
My personal blog (this one) is a dual mix of some crazy idea or poem or story I have, but I keep those to a minimum (since I tend to grow my ideas like cacti and then put them in books I can sell.) Mostly my blog is about being a writer. I talk about idea generation, the emotional prospects, etc. And I also talk a lot about marketing. The twist is, I’m not a marketer. But have enough grasp of the subject and first hand experience to explain the key concepts in my own words.
That is, in my own voice.
But blogging is not the only answer. Further emulating the gods of Self-Publishing (Johnny, Sean and Dave of the Self-Publishing Podcast) I started my own podcast, The Lurking Voice. But I do not talk about marketing there – there’s a million and one podcasts that already do that. There is no need for me.
So I divided my podcast into 4 different types of episodes and looked for what works. I do book and movie reviews, I talk about a monster of the week, I discuss some marketing (usually preceded by a blog post like this one – take a guess as to what the next episode on Thursday is gonna be on?) and, most important, I interview authors. I ask them about their childhood influences and their past. I ask them about their first attempts at being creative. I ask them about their writing schedule. I ask them about their interaction with fans. Then I ask them more random crap.
That is, unless we go off on a tangent. Which is still cool.
Creative people LOVE talking about themselves and their projects – and they love GOOD conversations. That’s what my podcast is. A voice about voices.
Aside from that shameless bit of self-promotion (just kidding – I have no shame) the point to that example is to show you that finding your voice is the building material for a platform.
Find you voice and build a platform – a base of operations. Target people who you know are your audience. Start off with a 100. Then a 1000. Interact with those people. Not your agent or your assistant (are you listening traditionally published people?) – YOU.
Be a human talking to other humans. Form bonds.
Because guess what? If people know you on a deeper level than just a Like on Facebook, or a retweet on Twitter, then they are more invested in you.
They will bookmark your site (platform). They will circle the date in their calendar of when your next release or giveaway will be. They will comment on your posts and share your tweets – thereby earning you more traffic and thus, more visibility. They will join your mailing list (more on that in the next post).
They will be your fans.
OK, I’ve rambled on enough for one day. (Yeah no shit. It’s called a blog ‘post’ not the fucking Declaration of Independence.)
Sigh. You know it’s time to bow out when you start heckling yourself. I hope you found this post somewhat useful.
See you at the top,
Here are some websites for you to check out:
5 successful marketing strategies for fiction authors (this one is by Joanna Penn – I so want this woman on my podcast)
Although, honestly, the best source for all this is Write. Publish. Repeat. They don’t pay me to tell you this – they are just that awesome.