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Grow Your Marketing Part 4: First Readers, Then Money

We’ve been looking at how to boost your book marketing.

In summary, the standard formula for increasing sales as used by businesses all over the world goes like this:

L x C x M x f = GP


  • L = leads

  • C = customers

  • M = margin

  • f = frequency of purchase

  • GP = gross profit

In other words, there are four methods you have available to grow your viability as a writer:

1. Increase the number of potential readers

2. Increase the number of actual readers

3. Increase the amount of money you take away from each book sale

4. Increase the number of times your book is bought

You probably think of number 4 almost exclusively — the way to make more money is to get more books sold. That’s understandable.

But there are three other methods.

As we have covered earlier, to build the number of potential readers, you need to place your book in front of the right people, not just ‘people’. How to do that is explained in the book Crack Your Marketing.

To increase the number of actual readers, you have to concentrate on building a Portal Product, a piece of work which is supercharged with everything you have to offer as a writer — a keystone, a talisman, a gateway, a window, a doorway into your work. Once read, it virtually guarantees an effect on a reader — given that that reader has already self-selected as a lead in the first place.

A Portal Product is simply your best self-contained piece of work. It acts as the perfect introduction to the rest of what you have to offer as a storyteller.

By having such a product, you avoid having to have huge advertising campaigns or long conversations (which expend a lot of time and energy) spread over all kinds of things that you’ve written.

A Portal Product makes your work easier to talk about and share with others, spreading your name by word of mouth.

A Portal Product takes the pressure off. You know that you can turn each individual reader into a fan with it.

It also demonstrates that your work has value. Those that buy your Portal Product are buying into you. They are much more likely to go on and read more of your stuff.

But here’s an important point:

Your Portal Product is not the thing that will make you rich.

It might be your best piece of work and everything else listed above, and it might generate some revenue for you over time, but it’s not aimed at providing you with a living for years.

The purpose of a Portal Product is to increase your number of customers.

Thinking Like a Business Person

If you’re having trouble with this, it might be that you are still thinking like a writer, rather than the owner and director of a business.

You might have a mind-set built something like this:

‘I’m going to write an amazing book which will become a best-seller and make me a fortune, meaning that I can retire from other work and concentrate on writing.’

Don’t worry if this is still your dream somewhere in the back of your mind — if it is, then it’s the dream of thousands, maybe millions of others. It’s a beautiful dream — but it’s a little naive in the sense that it tends to overlook how the world actually works.

As a writer intending to make a living from writing, you are automatically a business person creating and marketing (or hoping to market) saleable products.

To reach a viable level of income from those products, you need to work on the steps outlined above — increasing the number of potential readers, increasing the number of actual readers, and increasing the amount of money you take away from each book sale, as well as obviously increasing the number of times your book is bought.

Acquiring customers is not the same thing as acquiring income or profit. In fact, in some cases acquiring customers can lose you money. Acquiring customers is not about profitability.

It’s about activating the impulse to buy.

You need what we could call an Activation Offer, or a set of them.

So how does this apply to you as a writer?

You need high-value, low barrier-to-entry items designed to acquire customers.

If you want to double your number of readers, you need to create a number of offers which contain a lot of value for those particular readers while keeping the price exceptionally low.

Don’t expect this offer to make you much, if any, money.

Need an example of an Activation Offer as a writer?

A set of about fifty power-packed, well-crafted short stories.

Get these circulating in various publications over the space of a few months. Don’t submit them to every single publication asking for submissions — only submit them where they will fit into the required criteria and reach their appropriate audience.

Apart from increasing your rate of acceptance, carefully selecting where you submit your work will ensure that your whole marketing strategy begins to operate effectively.

What happens?

Exactly the right readers for your work get to read some samples of it.

If you’ve crafted a well-told tale, and created thereby an emotional effect, those readers will have registered your name.

If you can provide them with a link to your Portal Product, they will then be hooked.

The short stories activate their impulse to buy.

They then buy the one thing which will act as the perfect introduction to your work overall: your Portal Product.

Do you see how this works?

Thinking that you have to make money from everything you generate or you are ‘failing’ as a writer is based on a misunderstanding, or complete lack of understanding, of the principles of business.

Next time someone says to you as a writer ‘How come you don’t get paid for every story? You’re getting ripped off!’ you need to explain to them that a portion of your work is designed to acquire customers, not cash.

Every single story that you write for circulation in independent press publications needs to be viewed as an Activation Offer. Each one should be a trigger: it switches the reader onto you as a writer.

Now, when they see a reasonably priced book (your Portal Product) written by you, they are primed to buy.

None of this gets you much money — what it does get you is readers.

Readers are the foundation of future success for you as a writer.

Money comes soon afterwards.

Stay tuned.


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