We’re following through our Marketing Mantra to build a machine which will do everything you need it to do to create a viable writing career for you.
You attract generally by using social media to draw in a body of ‘warm prospects’, people who are interested in a general way in the kind of thing you write; you attract specifically by using the tools of positioning, cover design, blurbs and some conversational skills within your social media groups so that people regularly buy your ‘portal’ book, the book that gives them a concentrated dose of your work; that book then does its work and engages them fully.
What we need to look at in a little more depth now is the final step of the Mantra: provide more.
There are two ways of interpreting the ‘provide more’ step:
1. Provide more in terms of quantity. This simply means have more books or items available so that when a reader finishes your portal book and is left craving for more, there are actually more works around to satisfy that craving — the more, the merrier, as it gives readers choice and a greater supply of your stuff to read, which all equals greater viability for you.
Examples are easy to find: Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic was a brilliant way into Discworld, but is also the threshold of a series of works which give the reader more and more to buy and read. Agatha Christie is another example: take a liking to one of her crime novels and there are plenty more to keep you occupied after that.
2. Provide more in terms of quality or depth. This means that, whereas your portal book gave readers a fantastic introduction to your fiction, further works take them further in, whether that’s in terms of exploring themes and your overall message or in terms of literally exploring the worlds you’ve created. Read The Lord of the Rings as the portal, then journey through the vast history and geography of Middle-earth in The Silmarillion and Tolkien’s other works; read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and then explore the rest of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia with the other books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The principle applies to more than just fantasy worlds: read Graham Greene’s short stories and you may find yourself seeking his many novels to go deeper into his themes of Catholic guilt and redemption.
This should all be joyous news for you as a writer, because it tracks with exactly what you would probably like to do anyway, which is write more, go further in, generate more stuff and deeper interest. Yes, you can dream of writing one big, best-selling portal book and then retiring, but there aren’t too many Harper Lees around. A better dream is to have a set-up which creates fans who demand more work from you, and then to have so much work out there which takes reader further and deeper that a self-sustaining career is created and maintained.
Of course, you can do both: provide more quantity and more quality. Do it right and it means developing a profitable business you love in which your books sell with relatively little effort and which can organically become more profitable over time. You shouldn’t have to hunt for readers: they should be hunting for you.
As a writer, you can then be free to build worlds based on your unique viewpoints and messages. With practice, you become more proficient at your process, and because you get feedback from readers about what works and what doesn’t, you can continuously refine and improve your work. As you develop as a writer, your growing skill elevates you higher and higher above the competition.
And that’s another thing: your competitors. The other writers in your genre are probably still operating on old models: they’re either writing lots of stuff and then bombarding the internet with ads or links or free extracts or free copies in a vain effort to capture some attention, or they are busy copying what other writers have written to try to cash in on trends on Amazon and elsewhere. Leave them to it. Less than one percent of them will get lucky enough to make any sales, despite all the glitz and glamour.
Meanwhile, your organic marketing approach eliminates the guesswork and takes back control. You’re calling the shots because you run the groups and position and design everything. As a practised writer, you will come to know — if you don’t already— what your readers appreciate better than the readers themselves. When you complete the Marketing Mantra cycle over and over again, you have the experience, authenticity and authority to guide the reader every step of the way to full emotional and maybe even intellectual impact.
That’s different, isn’t it?