Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Your Book is Not An Engagement Ring

After 30 years in marketing and publishing, I've learned a lot of things that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.  Like, for example, a line (surprisingly!) doesn't start forming at the bookstore with your first tap on the keyboard... Or "you're not legitimately published unless a New York house publishes your book." Or a mention in Redbook, complete with cover graphic of your book, will result in 1,000s of sales. Yes, these ideas tend to disappoint...

But the most insidious thinking in book marketing is the 
show-stopping, money-gobbling, time-wasting constant FEAR OF COMPETITION.  

In my experienced, but humble, opinion, the only real competition in publishing is SUBSTITUTION. Are your prospective readers buying something other than a book to fill whatever the need warrants?  Is Jane Doe buying a book to learn how to plant a garden or is she taking a class?  Is John buying a book for entertainment on his trip or is he buying new sunglasses and a travel Scrabble set? Substitution is the only insurmountable competition because it's virtually impossible to predict and market to.

What's the fix? You can sell a lot of books by looking at who bought another book like yours.  Think about it for a minute. What's your favorite kind of book to read?  Memoir? Romance? Self Help? Adventure? Parenting? Do you just have ONE book that fills all your entertainment, educational, information-gathering needs?  Hell no. You probably have dozens, if not hundreds in the same or a very close genre.  People tend to gravitate to a certain type of reading to fit their mood at that moment.  They get one nugget from a business book, or four days of entertainment from each novel, or one new strategy to try with their kids. Each book only has to offer that one nugget that brings value to the reader.  That leaves a lot of room for everyone else!

Now, if you were in the engagement ring business, you could only hope to sell one engagement ring to that one customer (except in Hollywood, of course).  That's cut-throat competition.  Which one retailer, which one ring will win the honor of residing on that bride's finger for the rest of her life.  Luckily, book marketing is the exact opposite.

What should you do now?  The first person I call when we get a book to market is another author marketing to the same type of reader. You can coop marketing with them to cut your costs in so many ways.  You can ask for endorsements. You can cross market.  Get to know other authors in your genre and I vow that it will benefit you!  

EVENT: If you are in or near Omaha and you would like to share marketing ideas with other published (or nearly published) authors, join us Wednesday, November 5th for the first monthly Book Marketing Summit.  It will be at Swanson Library from 6-8 pm.  Can't make this one?  We'll have one each month, so like my page on Facebook for notifications of times and places. 

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