Those of you who have been following my Wednesday posts here on Self Publishing Advisor for a while will probably have picked up on a couple of my habits by now, and one of them is diving into series that examine the many facets of an issue under a microscope. I like to see every angle, follow every lead, and to be thorough. Which is why, in continuing this new series that began with last week’s post on the subject of “Marketing Missteps” I want to do full justice to the heart of the matter.
What, then, is the heart of marketing?
This is the question that has rightfully dominated boardroom discussions at the top traditional publishing houses as well as the living rooms and kitchens and offices of thousands of entrepreneurial independent authors’ homes. Marketing, when push comes to shove, is about raising both awareness about and motivated interest in your product. And by “motivated interest,” I mean the kind of interest that leads to product sales. But note one thing: the sales come after the awareness. To push for sales with a mercenary if understandable motive is, as an author, to do both your book and your readers a disservice.
To prioritize sales above the human being on the other end of the Facebook group, the email listserv, the Twitter feed, the phone line, the book signing table, and the Goodreads book page is to declare your financial gain to be more important than quality human communication, and art. Readers, like everyone else in the market for new acquisitions, have a sixth sense about pushy and over-eager sellers. And here’s a fact:
Your readers want you to be a storyteller, not the stereotype of a used-car salesman.
So, what does “pushy” look like and how can you avoid it?
Many first-time self-publishing authors release a book accompanied by persistent announcements across all social media platforms––and not just cute little notices, but noisy and self-interested announcements. (And if you’ll remember, we talked about the self-centered marketing campaign last week in detail.) Marketing is a more subtle endeavor than a Sears Factory Clearance ad, however. You are entering a crowded market––with around five hundred thousand new books released each year––with every other entry clamoring for readers to spend money. When you as an indie author begin shouting into the void, cramming shotgun marketing messages into every available Tweet and post and picture and conversation––well, you do nothing but damage. You have become part of the background noise readers must filter through every day, in search of a story they actually connect with.
And how not to become yet another unheard voice? Lead with your wit and your humanity. Look to the authors you admire on social media and their blogs and elsewhere––how much space do they dedicate to explicitly sales-related messaging? I guarantee you it’s not much. Instead of constantly pushing links to sales pages, the successful self-publishing author and marketer is increasing the value proposition of both their own personal brand––as an author and person––as well as the value proposition of the their work (published and ongoing).
We’ve mentioned it many times before and elsewhere that the best marketing strategy is to write another book and to talk about that process instead of constantly pushing sales for an already published book––readers will have their interest piqued by a work still in progress in a way they won’t be by something they can simply hop on to Amazon or Goodreads to read detailed reviews about. The mystery of an unfinished novel is an incredible asset! Whatever else you do, don’t stop writing––offline.
Don’t confuse sales messaging with a healthy and engaged marketing campaign. Do remember how you first fell in love with a book, an author, and filling your bookshelves. That is the kind of positive impulse that you want to tap into.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM|