Crack Your Marketing: Some Frequently Asked Questions
So now you know — if you’ve been studying the earlier articles in this series — how to build a marketing machine which will step by step take complete strangers through a process and turn them into fans and superfans of your work, people who will not only buy one of your books, but everything that you write. It’s not easy, it’s not magic, there are plenty of places to get the machine wrong along the way so that it doesn’t quite work, but there is a blueprint and, when it’s constructed properly, it works.
Time to answer a few frequently asked questions.
‘Should I offer my book(s) for free? Will it help to accelerate the process?'
I would almost never suggest offering your work for free; it weakens your reputation, and cuts into your overall profitability. As a writer, you should learn to think of yourself as a business, offering products and services — your products are your stories and books, your services are the pleasure, enlightenment, and/or entertainment value contained in them. As you gain experience and credibility in the minds and hearts of your readers, you should begin to value what you do highly. In fact, there’s a kind of counter-intuitive law that comes into play here: better to have fewer readers who value your work and pay for it, than a lot of readers who obtain it for free (but from whom you never hear again).
A confident, established writer who has built the machine described above knows what he or she is worth, and doesn’t like wasting time with those that don’t.
This perhaps sounds scary at first — surely you just want lots of lots of readers? I told you it was counter-intuitive: ‘numbers of readers’ doesn’t equal commercial success; readers who value what you write mean a future for you as a writer.
Having said all of that, there is a role for free products: a free gift of some kind can act to keep your warm prospects interested and ‘glued’ to you. If it’s at all feasible given your kind of writing, it might be a good idea to offer some kind of free product that is associated with your ‘portal’ work.
(A ‘portal’ is your key book, your central piece, the first thing you promote to potential readers, the one story or book which will open their eyes to what you do and encourage them to read more.)
For example, if you had written a Western portal, you could put together a map of your characters’ adventures, and offer it for free. This offers something to existing fans of your work, but also entices and intrigues those on the edge of buying your portal.
Or you could write a short story featuring the lead character from your portal, and put that out there for nothing.
Or have someone draw a portrait, or paint a landscape connected with your portal.
Anything to draw in attention and keep your warm prospects looking in the direction of that key book or item.
Tip: don’t make the free item completely free — by which I mean, ask for someone’s email address as an exchange for downloading it. This builds a list of names of those among your potential followers who are slightly ‘warmer’ than others.