Build demand with consistent messages or “viral marketing”
Hey, is it catching? You certainly hope so! As an author, you want to get the message out to as many people as possible about you and your book. Viral marketing is contagious and describes marketing on the Internet. You goal is to entice people to share your information with their friends, who then share with their friends, and so on. It spreads like a virus if your message is creative and on point.
Authors who are available for comment for news stories in print, radio or television, are sought out by reporters who cover their topic, industry or expertise. Guest columns on social media are another great way to keep yourself and your book in the news. Media and website owners will seek you out – and keep seeking you out — if you’re accessible. Self-promotion builds if you make it a point to be available, are on-time for the interview, if you’re well-spoken (or written), and keep your promises.
This publicity is free and frees you up to do what you like best – writing. An effective first step is letting media know your availability and including your contact information on all correspondence. Then, stay in touch, especially is there’s a newsworthy event that relates to you and your book. When someone cancels at the last minute, you might be next in line for an interview.
Keep showing up
Why should you keep showing up even if it seems like you’re making little headway? Because it takes five, seven – or even 10 impressions before media and fans begin recognizing you and your book. It used to be the “rule of three” impressions to make an effect in advertising and marketing but now there are so many ways to send your message and so much noise (static from everyone else sending messages) that it’s better to just keep sending them so that you’ll be heard. A caveat is not to annoy reporters by contacting them too frequently. Just remain persistent and helpful. And, remember, double check your contacts to make sure your message is going to the right person or people.
Make them care
Creating empathy with your audience connects you and your book in the same way you’d connect with a friend. Today, relationship marketing pulls at the heart and core beliefs of your followers. Everyone wants to be understood so your mission is to connect on a deeper level than just telling them the facts. What about you and your book is important to your audience? At a book event that I attended this weekend, I was able to hear the story behind many books directly from the authors and all of them were connecting through the heart. For example, Jo Anne Normile, author of memoir Saving Baby, discussed her passion for horse rescue and how it’s transformed her life. And, beyond the passion for horses that I’m sure many people share, a portion of the proceeds from each book sale provides funding for the Saving Baby Equine Charity. You want your reader and fans to believe that you’re talking directly to him or her – and you are.
Find or target your audience
As an author, chances are that you defined your “target” audience before you even began writing your book. This market is the right group to target for your marketing messages. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone is your audience. Age group alone segments book audiences e.g. Young Adult literature, and gender is key. Envision your target and speak to them. In fact, if you haven’t done it yet, write down a detailed description of your reader. Geography is also a good way to segment your audience. Is your book classified as Southern fiction? Or, is it set in the northeast along the coast? All these factors further define your target audience and give you a starting point for marketing.
Next, you’ll want to brainstorm what best matches your audience’s beliefs, opinions, attitudes or intentions. “Every day brings something good!” is the central message within Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall, now deceased. Although Carol chronicled her battle with cancer, the overriding message is that life is uplifting if you open your heart. Her friendship with a gardener from Kenya had to do with much more than gardening and is an inspiration for readers looking for this message about life and living.
Write effective marketing pieces
Writing effective marketing pieces is entirely different than writing a book and for some it’s a daunting task. The best marketing pieces are short and catchy. Whatever you’re writing – press releases, letters, website content or an email blast – remember to focus on your reader. First, write a headline that’s succinct, to the point, and interesting. A rule of thumb for email messages is no more than six words in the subject line. I sometimes use more if needed to get the message across. If it’s a press release about an event such as a book launch, I usually include the day and time to express urgency. Next, connect with your readers on a deeper level than just the facts. Telling them some of your story is a great way of connecting. Write copy that talks to your readers directly and include a call to action. This is a direct communication to come to your book launch, buy your book, find out more, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.
Follow-up – or the lack of follow-up – can sink your marketing campaign. All of us struggle with what feels like a sales call. I generally wait until I’m relaxed and have a “smile in my voice” before picking up the phone to follow-up with media or other contacts. If you follow up consistently, with a genuine desire to build an ongoing relationship, people will be receptive. A good guide is to set up a simple list of contacts and make notes regarding date of contact and comments. Then, mark dates to follow-up with them. You’ll build relationships that will be win-win.