What’s really the best guide as to how to market your work?
Ask yourself the following questions:
When browsing the net to buy a book, do you ever spend a lot of time on those group pages or sites which have long lists of links from people trying to sell their books?
When you receive a post on your page or in some way planted in front of your face on social media which says something like ‘Here’s my latest book, click here and “like” it now’, do you do so?
When you go out to buy something - not necessarily a book, any product - are you immediately attracted to people standing outside shops thrusting leaflets into your hands?
When you see an ad on TV, do you usually think ‘There’s an idea, I must go and get one of those!’?
You probably answered negatively to the above - either a straight ‘No’ or with some kind of negative response. Or perhaps you didn't. But you know that kind of marketing probably doesn’t work on you, or at least not all the time. In fact, most of us find it annoying, something to avoid or skirt around if we can.
So why do you expect it to suddenly work with your book, your links, your ads?
I’ve written a whole book about marketing for writers in which I shatter various powerful myths about how to do it which have become so ingrained in our thinking and behaviour that we don’t even recognise what we are doing any more. But I want to examine a few more aspects of this without you having to buy anything.
Again, using yourself and your own behaviour as a measure, what prompts you to do anything? And how do you measure whether or not you will actually buy anything?
If you’re anything like most people you are probably moved by emptiness. By that I mean that something draws or pulls you into motion and that is usually an absence: you feel in need of food, so you get up and make a snack; you feel thirsty, so you get a drink; you feel a lack of entertainment so you switch on a TV, and so on. More broadly, you feel the need for money, so you go out to work; you need shelter, so you buy or rent a home; you need companionship, so you cultivate relationships. You get the idea. Some emptiness is created by desire, some by urgent need - but emptiness, the lack of something, is usually what prompts human beings into action.
Enough emptiness, either by volume or by repetition, creates a momentum; enough momentum creates commitment. When we get to the point of commitment, when our need or our desire is great enough to cause us to invest more and more energy into something, we buy.
There’s obviously much more to this, but those are the essentials. So when it comes to marketing a book or anything else, the thing that is actually working, behind all the statistics and the analytics and the ad campaigns and the product-pushing is emptiness.
Customers don’t buy anything unless they have an emptiness, whether that is created by need or desire. In fact, as I’ve just said, they usually don’t reach for their wallets until they have a whole lot of emptiness.
So in marketing your book, what matters, counter-intuitively, is not how many people you can thrust it in front of, but how much need you can create around it.
It helps to begin with those people who already have some kind of vague need for something resembling whatever it is you have to offer. Then you have to direct and magnify their need in such a way that they are stirred into motion and buy.
Stop using marketing myths as the basis of your approach to making money from your writing.
Start using the things that motivate you to buy things.