Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another Twist on Marketing your Book

By Christina Carson

Seth Godin started me thinking about yet another issue in the marketing conundrum for authors. Let’s face it. We indie writers know we have to be businesspeople, but it is a strange affair. We are, what is called in business, sole proprietors. Our products are books and our competition is as thick and dense as any I can imagine in today’s business world. On top of that, we have this alluring proposition of a potentially huge market thanks to social media, but as yet, no effective means of connecting with it. That includes the piddling of advertising available which, strangely is controlled by the advertiser. So now that we’ve gotten the frustrating bits out in the open like revealed boogie men under the bed, let’s apply another notion of Seth’s to our particular situation.

First off, here is my mantra, and it has taken me many fine places: You work at what you can, and do your absolute best, until you can work at something else.

Now let’s couple that with Seth Godin’s ideas about product awareness (how well our books are known) and see where we go. Here is his first notion:
If your startup, your non-profit or your event is suffering because of a lack of awareness, the solution isn't to figure out some way to get more hype, more publicity or more traffic.

His reason for saying this is:
The challenge with this approach is that it doesn't scale. Soon, you'll have no luck at all getting more attention, even with ever more stunts or funding.

Put into other words, if we had all the answers we wouldn’t be having this conversation, so doing more of the same is not an answer, merely a momentary response to our frustrations.
Here is his simple answer: re-create your product so it is worth talking about.

As it applies to sole proprietors known as writers, it means ensure your books are quality, something that impels a reader to tell at least one other person, “Man did I just read a winner of a book.”

Here’s a clue where to start. Don’t ask others whether you are a good writer or not. You are the only one who knows how far you can push that envelope. You are the only one who knows how far down that trail you’ve gone. A powerful book, one that people feel compelled to talk about is one where the author has traveled way down that road and put more of him or herself into it than most others.

Don’t get confused. I’m not talking autobiographical information here. I mean what you know and understand about life. That needs to seep into your story. It needs to get sopped up in your characters so they become people so convincing and fascinating the readers yearn to spend time in their company, lamenting each parting. People talk about those books, and then people do their job in your marketing plan. They are the only ones who can do this part. They, just like the old days, find a way to spread their excitement and satisfaction to others – the tried and true word-of-mouth, the best promotional tool a writer has. 
It might not go viral, but it will start the ball rolling and get you known for the long haul better than anything else—a tangible person to person connection.

That’s why I said my mantra is: Work at what you can, and do your absolute best, until you can work at something else – like answering all your fan mail.


  1. Brilliant - especially you, but Seth also. And, I know for an absolute fact that you practice every thing you preach...and I love you.

    1. Me war protester; you veteran and look how that worked out. How amazing.

  2. "Man, did I just read a winner of a book" - yes, you've encapsulated magnificently in one short post what is at the heart of a best seller: a quality product that stands out because it has special content, i.e. content based on your life's experience and what you, as a writer, can take away from it and share. Thanks Christina!

    I would just add that while this is at the heart, it is not, alas, enough. There's all the rest of the stuff that's needed to reach your reader - unfortunately, but there it is. And I'm talking of the way the market is organized. In America, it's organized by "genre" - this is a concept that started in the American market. I remember my surprise some 10 years ago when I came across it. Over here in Europe, for a long time we were way behind you! In the early 1990s, I had been fortunate to land one of the best literary agent in the UK and guess what, we didn't speak of "genre" back then, we spoke of the fact that I wrote "contemporary" novels, i.e. set in our times, period. Since then, alas, I've lost him (he was fairly old and old-school, I'm not sure he would have understood or followed the "genre" trail - in fact, he loved my books but had a hard time selling them, sigh!) And the world has changed and we must now face the "genre" conundrum.

    To think you're going to sell your book just because it's good on the theory that the "cream" necessarily rises to the top and that your book will stand out in the tsunami of books published every year (more than 3.5 million new titles!!) is simply being naive.

    If you don't write in a well-specified genre, and preferably in one of the more popular ones like romance or thrillers, you won't get far in the digital world that is populated by "genre" fans!

    Sorry if this is a downer. But that's my take on book marketing today. This said, you're absolutely spot on right: the first thing to do is to write the best book possible, exactly like you said in this post. Brilliant!

    1. We do what we can do, Claude. One thing I know to be true. When someone succeeds particularly out of a situation where the odds look terrible, they will never be able to tell you how that came about, except for one thing. That one thing will be agreed on by all who experience such success. They had no doubts. But in the mean time, we must do those things that are the actions of someone without doubts, like writing the best quality we know how and whatever else we see to do. This has been my experience enough that for me it is so.

  3. You are absolutely right on once again, Christina. I wish I could reblog to wordpress!

    1. Thanks for stopping by once again. I have a wordpress site I could post it on, if you like. Just let me know.

  4. What you wrote - is what you do, which is why anyone who reads your books tells other people that they just read a great book. In the end, we write because that is what we do. If one person loves it and it makes a difference in their life, then we have done something worth doing. So we'll just keep doing that, and spreading the word the best we can. Thanks Christina!

  5. You understand. There is a marvelous aspect to this cosmos when we proceed like one who is truly open to success. We naturally align with the way things work and such marvels result. As Huang Po says: no thought-creation, no duality, no reliance on others, and the one working here - NO Attachment.