This is the first in a new column, Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book, by newest regular contributor, Diane Holmes of Pitch University. She’ll alternate this column with Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery.
How do you plan on being successful in marketing yourself or your book? (And let’s measure success by actual sales or dollars.) If you’re already published, tell me about your next project and how you’ll be successful marketing that.
Come up with an answer. Got it? Okay, good. I bet most of you thought of a solution that involved…
(1) doing “something” like a website or blog, or maybe having a Facebook page or doing other things you’ve seen done,
(2) asking another writer in your writer’s group/community for advice, or
(3) going to a writer’s workshop or seminar to listen to a multi-published writer teach about what she or he did.
I’m often surprised by how many writers never think to involve experts in their careers, except in a very passive way (where we read or listen, while someone teaches us “something” in general and not about our specific book or platform). And I love all my pubbed peeps, but I also know that few multi-published writers are marketing experts, who can speak to repeatable processes and best practices of the current industry.
We are so stuck in the do-it-yourself nature of freelance careers (for fiction writers, it’s writing on “spec and a prayer”), where you learn your profession while alone in a room at home, and we stay in that loner mode.
Our resources are ourselves and other writers. Heck, if we involve anyone outside ourselves, it feels like we’re learning from experts!
But let me put this into perspective by invoking “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” a TV reality show were business-savvy Tabatha Coffee “takes over” failing salons and figures out what’s wrong.
And honey, it’s always the same thing. Someone, who pretty much has no business running a salon and leading people, had money and bought a salon. And then, when business and people imploded, the solution was to (a) keep doing the same thing, (b) say they’re no good at being a manager, and (c) take out a second mortgage.
The thing they never do? Strategically hire a successful salon owner as a consultant, someone you research and know you want to learn from. Go to work as an apprentice in a successful salon. Bring in one, two, or a team of business consultants (experts in marketing, retail, service industry, general business, financial etc.).
I can tell you one thing, these folks sure aren’t going to fix their failing salons by reading an article on marketing, attending a 1 hour seminar on increasing product sales, or asking other salon owners who are also struggling. They need to talk with someone who knows success across businesses/salons, in the specific area they lack.
Tabatha = Expert. And she’s taking over, baby.
So, when I ask you about how you’ll be successful marketing yourself and your book, I wonder if you’ll think to consult with experts. I hope so. Then you’ll be thinking like a business owner…
(1) who evaluates advice based on hard information,
(2) who gets personalized advice for a specific focus and book,
(3) whose plan for success is more than “I’ll just do what everyone else is doing, because they say that’s what will sell books.”
That Facebook page I mentioned above? How active do you need to be in order to translate your page into a single book sales by a “fan”? What does active even mean? What if you hate this type of community building? The answer is not, “But you have to do it; everyone says so.”
Now, let’s talk money, because I can hear those of you saying, “I don’t have any money!”
Businesses hire consultants all the time when they need them. People find mentors in industries and professions around the globe. And you are smart enough to figure out a solution for your career and business. But you never will if you let “spending money” be your line in the sand and excuse not to do some research.
New Model of Success
All you have to do is figure out one thing you want an answer to. Then ask yourself who you can ask and where you can go to get that answer.
Let me give you a couple examples that I’m personally involved with.
1) How can I learn to pitch since I’m really bad at it?
* I created Pitch University to teach myself and other writers how to pitch their books, by asking and practicing with the experts. Cost to you? None.
* Jennifer Wilkov invented The Next Bestseller Weekend Workshop (August in NYC, November in Miami), a 3-day workshop working in-person with pitching experts who are game changers. Can you imagine working with a former Paramount exec to learn pitching? Cost? Big. (In some industries, this price would be considered low, but we’re writers. Four digits is big.)
Bottom line: I figured out how to access experts now. Pitch U is my first step. But I want to learn on the level that Jennifer is putting together. Amazing. I want that kind of expert skill. And it’s part of my business plan to make it happen.
2) How can I create a killer book proposal?
Literary Agent Michael Larsen of Larsen-Pomada is an expert of non-fiction book proposals. With 40 years of experience, the man knows how to create a killer proposal.
If you go to his site, you can read an article on writing proposals, or go read his blog. Cost to you? None.
Buy the brand new 4th edition of How to Write a Book Proposal. Cost: $10.52.
Hire him to act as your book proposal mentor. Cost: varies $75.00 – $150.00/hr. You call first and talk over the project for free.
**Note: I have a copy of How to Write a Book Proposal that I’ll be giving away next week over at Pitch U (also a free consult with Mike). And no, I don’t make anything, nor am I affiliated in a financial way with either Jennifer or Mike. They’re just experts I’ve met through Pitch U. Remember, that was my goal.
Here’s the point: You can access experts in a variety of ways, for a variety of costs. It’s obvious that the more you invest with experts, the more you’re likely to learn that is specifically geared to you, your business, and your book.
Be curious. Don’t just wait passively to learn from an expert. Go. Get it.