I’m consistently amazed at how many authors and indie publishers are daunted by the challenge of marketing their books and themselves. Oh, I get it: Marketing professionals like to imply that there’s some kind of magic to it, and that makes it intimidating.
Well, of course, they do — this is their stock in trade! Why not take advantage of the widespread impression that there’s some kind of mystical alchemy that makes it all work, and that only the Grand Poobah Wizards can actually pull it off? And just so no one gets offended: I’m allowed to say this — I AM a marketing professional. It’s what I do for a living when I’m not writing or publishing books. And it’s exactly why I became the Indie Navigator. I just got so tired of seeing so many people who cold be enjoying real success with their books if they weren’t so darned afraid of marketing and promotion.
Fact is, ANYONE can do marketing. Can everyone do it equally well? Of course not. There will always be those who show special gifts in this area, as with any other pursuit. And there are some who just seem to knock it out of the park every time. Those are the superstars everyone wants to work with but whom few can afford. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t do what it takes to market yourself and your books effectively. It’s a great deal of relentless work, but it’s not difficult. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get, just like any other skill.
The best news is that authors are inherently well-equipped to be effective marketers. Regardless which modes you use to reach your prospective customers, in marketing or promoting your author career, books or publishing house brand (or anything else), you have one simple objective: Tell a really good story.
Yes, that’s really all marketing is: figuring out what your story is and the best way to tell it, because people identify with compelling stories and have a tendency to imagine themselves as a part of that story. If you can evoke that imagining on the part of your prospective client, you’ve done a great marketing job. If the stuff I see on social media is any indication, the bigwig ad agencies are finally starting to realize this. HA! I’ve been saying this to my clients forever!
Story holds a venerable place in every civilization. It’s the oldest form of communication and of entertainment. It’s also how we know ourselves and each other. From the time we are very young, our views and perceptions of the world around us are shaped by the stories we are told.
As we grow, we learn to exert influence over the perceptions of others by telling our own stories. We also learn that how we tell those stories really matters.
Think about it: As a child, didn’t you learn that adding select details to your story of how the mean bully pushed you down on the playground evoked the sympathy you were looking for from everyone you told about it? And how leaving out other select details got you off the hook for having maybe said a few unnecessary things yourself that may have provoked the pushing? Believe it or not, you were marketing. You were selling an idea, and you were deeply invested in influencing the way the story was perceived.
Now, most marketing isn’t as blatantly manipulative (though some truly is), but that is the basis on which it works. Marketing simply codifies the way we approach such storytelling, based on what has worked in the past in a given set of circumstances.
But one thing never changes: The person who tells the best story in the most engaging way will always be the most successful at motivating people to do what they want them to do. In this case, it’s getting them to trust your brand, be interested in your authors, and purchase your books.
TAKEAWAY: So if you don’t remember anything else about successful marketing, remember this: Whoever tells the best story wins.
ACTION ITEM: So right now, figure out what your story is, and the best way to tell it to elicit the type of response you’d like from your audience. Then start building your marketing campaign around that messaging. Here’s a great short article on how to get started.
NEXT TIME: Getting Over The Big Taboo