Is Marketing Your Nemesis?
Marketing is often perceived to be a bit like the picture above: lots of samey-looking offers, all competing to shout the loudest. It’s those people on Twitter that you unfollow. Those emails you unsubscribe from. The Facebook contacts you unfriend. That probably tells you something, and it’s hardly surprising to see comments from writers that they aren’t going to do any marketing. Unfortunately, a lot of ‘marketing’ that comes to our attention is from the shouty crew, and it’s not very good!
The idea of marketing seems to split writers into two camps: those who embrace it, and those who run away screaming. I’ve read a few comments from writers this week that definitely fall into the second category. As a writer who used to work in marketing, I thought it was time to put together some information that might help other writers. This will form a series of blogs as my debut novel, The Syndrome Diaries, gets ready to fly the nest. You’ll be able to follow me as I apply my marketing knowledge and see what works for me and what doesn’t. As a newbie self-publisher, I’m bound to drop a few clangers that you can learn from. Enjoy!
What is marketing?
At the most basic level, it’s about identifying a need and meeting that need. As writers and readers, we have a hunch that people need fiction for enjoyment, escapism, entertainment, to pass time on the train and lots of other reasons too numerous to list. They can cope without it, but they’d prefer not to. My market is the people who, if they knew about my book, would want to read it and would turn the last page having enjoyed the journey my story took them on.
If you’re engaging with the writing community, you’ll no doubt be hearing a lot about platform-building, but that’s only a small part of marketing, and it’s also the part that the shouties get a bit too enthusiastic about. To market effectively, you need to think more broadly. You don’t have to be a business expert, just apply some common sense across what marketers call the 7 P’s. I’ll be covering these in forthcoming blogs; in the meantime, here’s a summary:
Product – your book. What kind of book is it? What kind of need is it meeting? Who is it for? What does it do?
Price – if you’re self-publishing, what sort of return do you want to make? What costs do you need to recoup?
Place – this is what sometimes gets called the sales channel. These days it’s whether to go traditional or self publish, and whether to produce an e-book, a hard copy or both
Promotion – any activity that raises awareness of your book
Packaging – your cover design, fonts and format
Positioning – how you and your book are perceived (what’s your brand?)
People – all those involved with getting your book to its audience, including beta readers, reading groups, editors, designers, agents, your mates, your family and anyone else who’s helping out
These factors all tie in with each other. Some of them will tickle your creative tastebuds, others will seem pretty dull in comparison, but they’re all worth thinking about.
Next time: more about the #1 P – product – and my ‘raunch’ dilemma!