In the world of dreams, a writer often imagines that the bulk of the work is done when the first draft is complete. It’s a persistent illusion, but one which needs to be shattered.
Apart from the fact that, in practice, completing a first draft is only about 20% of the work in producing a fully publishable novel, even when the thing is published (traditionally or using self-publishing) the work of getting it into the hands of readers has scarcely begun. The terrible truth is that, if your goal as a writer is to take a conception from your imagination and have it appear as though teleported or telepathically transmitted into the minds of readers, then a considerable proportion of that transference occurs in the hard, physical world and involves the movement of the solid (or electronic) copies of books into the hands (or onto the screens) of readers.
If that world is alien to you, or you don’t feel competent in it, the thing to do is to get someone who can do it for you: a marketing person.
To get an overview of what you need your marketing person to be able to do with relative ease, let’s examine the following points:
1. He or she needs to fully understand the effects that you are hoping to create with your book.
2. He or she needs to have an understanding of who your readers are and what those readers feel they need.
The first step in any of this is to have a product that can be delivered, which is a completed work. 'Selling' the product is actually an interim step on the way to conveying what began in your imagination into the imaginations of others - in itself, the exchange of monies for your book is almost irrelevant and has certainly had too much attention placed on it. The reason it has apparently needed so much attention is because the underlying forces behind how this works were either not understood or not grasped fully.
Success in any business depends upon developing a product or service that can be delivered to the customer which so exactly fits the customer’s needs that the customer’s 'cup runneth over' and the news of that spreads by word of mouth to nearby potential customers. Your book is no different; your ideas and imaginative images are no different.
Your book has a shadow, if you like: the vacuums, emptinesses, holes and hopes that it promises to fill for a reader. It is that shadow that attracts and interests that reader. Once they get close enough to see the object which is casting the shadow - the copy of your book - the job is almost done. The step that has been called ‘selling’ is simply when the reader’s desires are matched with the book’s features in such a way that an exchange takes place and the reader moves from being attracted towards your book by an emptiness to beginning to have that particular emptiness filled.
You should know that right now an ordinary marketing person probably isn’t doing any of the things we’ve covered above, unless he or she is very good at their job.
People in marketing tend to lose enthusiasm over time, and buy into viewpoints like 'Marketing doesn’t really work' or 'Marketing is based on numbers and luck' - or, worst of all, but most common of all: 'Marketing is too expensive and needs to have its budget cut.' They follow a sequence, starting with the idea that marketing doesn’t work leading to the belief that marketing is a game of numbers and luck, leading to the conclusion that the marketing budget needs to be slashed.
If one could wave a magic wand and get rid of those attitudes alone, any business would boom. But they all exist for very good reasons and it is the concealed reasons that you must address if you really want to market your book successfully.
A. ’Marketing doesn’t really work'
It’s not surprising that, in the absence of true information, most marketing executives or staff come to the almost inevitable conclusion that 'Marketing doesn’t work'. It’s almost a guarantee that they have spent all their time and energy on the Big No-No of marketing:
Pushing a product is like trying to fill a hole that isn’t there: a lot of work and effort goes into it, but all you get is a pile of dirt. The only hole that appears is in your bank balance. Pushing products can actually build a wall between you and potential readers so that all your marketing energy actually creates the opposite effect - you prevent the reader from approaching the product and effectively drive him or her away.
B. ’Marketing is based on numbers and luck'
The next step is for marketing people to come to believe that it is all about generating a big effect in terms of numbers that will somehow pull in enough readers who then filter themselves out by a process resembling luck. This is partly where 'sales funnels' come from. The amount of energy they believe necessary to create an effect on the vast swarms of public is so huge that they feel apathetic and a little panicky about it. They tend to become superstitious and to believe that a campaign has to 'strike lucky' to have any kind of result.
C. ’Marketing is too expensive and needs to have its budget cut.'
Having spent a lot of time and money pushing products and trying to create big effects, the subsequent conclusion is that it has all failed to produce the desired results and so must be cut back. This can be fatal to a business and is certainly fatal to your book as a commodity. It’s always hard to exactly calculate the effect of a marketing campaign and it’s easy to become confused or disheartened over time with marketing.
Unless of course the campaign has perfected the use of certain techniques, which means that almost as soon as the marketing campaign hits, it will generate extra business.
What are those techniques? Future articles will enlighten you on that score.