Many writers enter the fray wanting to become rich from their writings. Very many of them hope to be able to write a best-selling book which will not only make them famous, but will provide them with money for the rest of their lives. Just one book — so good, though, that Hollywood will call and offer vast sums to turn it into a movie. Then the movie will take off at the box office, thus ensuring abundant wealth for decades...
Is that what you thought might happen? Or at least, you wished it did?
What happened instead?
When you research marketing as a subject, dispassionately and without falling for any of the hype that is out there, you quickly realise that marketing books is an exercise in human relations, like most other things. Perhaps this is best described through an analogy.
Let’s say you want a relationship with someone. You want them to fall in love with you, to be so impressed by you that they act as your advocate, to be enamoured with you to the point that they will be entranced by anything you say. In the past, if you were very needy and superstitious, you might have sought out a witch to cast a spell on someone or a love potion to enthral them. These days, using the power of social media, you are encouraged to bombard the planet with love messages, join dating sites, trawl through hundreds of personal profiles, flirt with dozens of people, until you find the ‘right one’. Even that chosen relationship, you find, only flourishes under certain conditions and may be subject to whimsical change.
So how do you go about attracting someone for real? How do human beings develop lasting and loving relationships with each other?
Primarily, I would argue, they do it by being themselves. They find out who they really are, and, in a relaxed and sane way, present that to the world. Just as a flower attracts a bee, so does this truth about a person tend to attract the right sort of people with whom to have a lasting relationship. Any kind of falsity about that presentation, any attempt to twist it to fit requirements or distort it in order to please some imagined audience, usually results in failure: either no one is attracted or the wrong type of person is drawn in.
Secondly, I would also argue, the person seeking a genuine and lasting relationship should try not to be needy about it. Need creates vacuums; vacuums exert a pull on the environment around them. You might think that that is what you want — you want to ‘pull in someone’. But anyone who has an ounce of personal integrity or sense of self-worth is not going to want to be subject to another’s ‘gravitational field’ willy-nilly. So you’ll end up pulling in the weak, the aimless and those who are themselves needy.
What does it mean, in this context, to be ‘needy’? It means having a yearning for something or someone which is disproportionate, or which threatens to overwhelm the person themselves. You can have a healthy appetite — or you can have an artificially inflated, swollen hunger for something which is destructive to your values and soul. People seeking relationships often succumb to the appetite and permit it to be the guiding factor in their lives: their whole existence goes into orbit around the need to be with someone. They lose sight of their own self-worth and end up comprising their integrity, sometimes on a daily basis.
The truth is that a sanely balanced presentation of oneself as one really is contains enough ‘naturally occurring’ vacuums as part of a cohesive picture that it will draw towards itself what (and who) it needs. In other words, if you know who you are and what you are like, and present that honestly to the world in a balanced, calm and relaxed way, the vacuums inherent within it will attract the right people at the right time. Sounds like magic, but it’s really just sanity.
What does this have to do with book marketing?
As a writer with a published book, you might be tempted to spam the internet and ‘sell your artistic soul’ in order to attract readers. Your yearning to be read can quickly become disproportionate and threaten to overwhelm you in terms of time, money and your own attention. By all means, have a healthy requirement to reach readers — but recognise that there is a point where this can become destructive. What should be important is your writing — that should be the guiding factor in your life, if you’re looking for one. Don’t allow your life to go into orbit around marketing.
Here’s the magic: if you concentrate on the writing, if you learn the craft and practise it, if you put your attention on being the best writer you can possibly be, readers will come. The only question is ‘How quickly?’ Some of you may remember the 1989 Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams in which there occurs the famous line ‘If you build it, they will come.’ That principle applies here: write the best book you can and readers will find it.
Can you do some things to speed up the process of discovery? Yes. If you need a succinct and direct programme of actions which will point you in the right direction, contact me.