by Bob Baker
Attracting new fans. Admit it, that's what having a book published is all about -- getting more people to read your words, know about you and buy your books. And hopefully, getting a LOT more people to do those things.
Why else do you work so hard to craft chapters, paragraphs, sentences -- even individual word choices? For what other reason do you fight off sleep so you can finish just one more section before you call it a night? I don't believe you go through these things to amuse yourself and hone your grammar skills in obscurity. You work hard because you know you have something of value to offer ... and you want to reach as many people as possible with your ideas.
Marketing is the thing that helps you reach that goal. But marketing is also a subject that confuses a lot of writers. Whether they write fiction or nonfiction, are self-published or traditionally published, writers the world over know they need to promote themselves. But many don't know where to start, much less how to continue marketing effectively.
Does this describe you? If so, consider the following scenario:
Let's say you went to an average U.S. city and rounded up 1,000 people and gathered them in a giant VFW hall. These 1,000 folks would be randomly chosen and made up of people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Next, you'd distribute information about your book, talk to these people and even let them read sample chapters.
After this direct exposure, what are the chances that one person out of those thousand would be attracted to your ideas and personal identity enough to buy your book? Most writers, regardless of how obscure their subject matter is, should feel pretty confident about being able to win over at least one new fan from this group of 1,000. That's a one-tenth of one percent conversion rate.
Now let's multiply that reasonable formula by the entire U.S. population of 285 million people. One-tenth of one percent would be 285,000 people. That would be enough fans to make you a bonafide bestselling author. Right?
So how do you find and connect with those one-in-a-thousand buyers (without the use of VFW halls across the country)? Most likely, you can't afford the massive advertising budget of major companies. These corporations spray their marketing message over the masses, knowing that it'll only stick to a small percentage of the population.
The solution: You must find creative, low-cost ways to go directly to those fans who make up that one-tenth of one percent. Don't waste your time and money promoting yourself to people who will most likely never embrace your words.
Here are four steps to take to reach those new fans:
1. Define Your Distinct Identity
You must have a firm grasp on what your writing (or latest book) is about. And you must be able to define it clearly and quickly. What sets your book apart from others in its genre? What attitude or social statement do you (or your book) make? Generic self-help, romance or science fiction titles won't cut it. Dig deeper and discover your unique identity. When you do finally reach some of those rare potential fans, don't lose them by not being clear about who you are.
2. Describe Your Ideal Fan
Once you have a handle on who you are as a writer, it's time to paint a clear picture of your ideal fan. Can you articulate how your readers dress, where they work, what TV shows they watch, what they do for fun and who their favorite cultural heroes are? Observe the types of people who come to your public speaking engagements or readings, and note what they have in common? Conduct simple online surveys with people who visit your web site or subscribe to your e-zine. Knowing precisely who your fans are will dictate what avenues you use to reach them and how you communicate your message once you do reach them.
3. Determine How to Get Access to Your Ideal Fans
Once you know exactly what type of fan you're going after, start making a list of the various resources these specific people are attracted to. What magazines and newspapers do they read? Where do they hang out? What radio stations do they listen to? What retail outlets do they frequent? What web sites do they surf to? What e-mail newsletters do they subscribe to? For example, if your fans are mostly Harley riders, go to a search engine like Google and start entering keywords related to motorcycles. Evaluate the search results and compile a list of the many good sources you uncover.
4. Network and Promote Yourself and Your Book
Armed with this targeted list of contacts, get busy! Send e-mail press releases to niche media outlets. Contact the webmasters and editors of appropriate publications. Post messages in specialized forums. Visit and interact via the web sites of similar authors or reading groups. Contact organizations and charities related to your writing niche.
In short, go to where your ideal fans are. And market yourself through these outlets relentlessly. Why spend too much time and money trying to promote to everyone ... when you can save money and be far more effective by going directly to those valuable one-in-a-thousand fans?
Bob Baker is the author of "Unleash the Artist Within," "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook" and "Branding Yourself Online." Get a FREE subscription to Bob's newsletter, "Quick Tips for Creative People," featuring inspiration and low-cost self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.
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