Marketing is a hammer writers use to bang their books into readers’ heads—or at least that’s how it feels.
Marketing is a necessary evil—or is it? We obviously must build our platforms if we’re ever going to get anywhere in this T. Rexirrible world, but marketing is only as bad as our opinion of it.
For example, let’s say I detest self-published books. I devoured a few, and each time I choked myself on undeveloped plots, poor editing, or overdoses of preachiness. Because of those bad experiences, I avoid self-published books at all costs. But just because one book was awful, doesn’t mean all self-published books are that way. If we let our past experiences color our views, we’ll miss many good experiences.
Marketing can crack reader’s and writer’s skulls—but if we employ it properly, we can instead use it to hammer the nails into our platform and build a solid reader base.
Mindset Change #1: You Aren’t Doing This Only for Yourself
Have you ever been around one of those kids who seem to be constantly shouting, “Look at me! Look at me!”? Annoying, right? No one wants to be that kind of person (with the exception of the aforementioned shouting kid). And marketing seems like another more socially acceptable way of doing just that.
But the difference between the shouting kid and marketing is that the kid is only doing that to get attention with the sole benefit to listeners being deaf ears. Authors, on the other claw, typically seek to impact others with their stories. What if you owned a coffee shop that made scrumptious inkappuccinos? Would you feel ashamed of letting buyers know that? Of course not! Likewise, why be ashamed of showing people something that could bring a smile to their face?
But first, make sure your inkappuccinos are delicious to someone besides you. If you are marketing a low-quality product or book, you have a reason to be ashamed. You will be cheating the buyer out of their money, and even if you offer the book for free, you will be cheating them out of their time (which they could have spent reading some stupid blog written by a dinosaur). Furthermore, you will be cheating yourself because you’ll most likely be spending time and money on a project that won’t get you anywhere. True, no book will ever be perfect, and we should never get caught in a cycle of always improving without ever finishing our story because it’s not good enough. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we need to put our books through some serious testing before publication.
Because if it’s gonna explode, let it explode in your house and not in your readers’.
Mindset Change #2: You Are a Business
When we try to promote ourselves as authors, we feel like we’re promoting ourselves, when we are actually promoting what we create. We need to remember that platforming is a business venture. When a publisher advertises a book series, I don’t view the publisher as promoting themselves, I simply view them as promoting that particular book—and most times I don’t even pay attention who the publisher is! I just see a cool book and think, Oh! Let’s go buy it!
Think of yourself as the publisher of your own books. Sure, they’re all by you, but that’s not the point. The point is, you are not what readers first see (humbling, but true). They see a book, a product, a thingamajig—then, after they’ve purchased it, they’ll come running to you. But your book will always be the first thing they’ll see.
After, of course, those ninety-nine other books in the Amazon search results.
Mindset Change #3: You Will Have to Work
“I uploaded my book on Amazon and nobody’s buying it.”
“I launched a blog a year ago, but no one reads it.”
“I posted a video of me wearing a Chewbacca mask and it didn’t go viral.”
One of the reasons that marketing is so tiring is because it’s so hard. Many of us would resort to banging readers’ heads—if we could only find readers heads to bang, that is. We think all we have to do is set up a website, join social media, and voila! We’re done! Now we sit back and wait for the fans to pour in.
Well, sorry to throw a damper on your laziness, but marketing is like everything else in life—you’re going to have to work to make it successful. Today. Tomorrow. Every. Single. Day. Marketing will cost you time, and perhaps money. Most importantly, it will take you time to learn. I bet the first story you wrote wasn’t an award winner, was it? And your first marketing attempts won’t be stellar either. But don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice, and your mistakes will help you discover how to do it the right way.
Marketing Is Only What You Make of It
Marketing is a tool like anything else and can be used for good or bad, depending on how you use it. It’s all up to you. Remember, if you use marketing to knock your readers out, you won’t have any readers left.
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