Monday, November 19, 2012

Marketing 101

Today, Shen Hart, the prolific and unstoppable force behind Literary Plus, joins us to talk about a subject near and dear to all of our hearts.


Marketing 101

Hello all, I'm Shen Hart. I am the founder and leader of Literary+ and also an Indie Authorial Agent.
Today I am here to give you a bit of an overview of marketing and how to market your self-published book via social media and the internet.

I’d like to start at the very beginning, there is no point in putting your time and effort into a well constructed marketing campaign if your final product isn't up to par. This may seem obvious but it has to be said. To give you a brief overview of what I consider to be a good quality final product I'll pull apart the things which made me pick up the book I am currently reading. This is a book I have absolutely no professional affiliation with. I posted on Google+ asking for book recommendations, the author gave me his elevator pitch and a link I then proceeded to buy it because it looked good. I won't deny that I am a very fussy reader but that's for another post, another time.

The book in question is Hexcommunicated by Rafael Chandler.

First impressions count. In the case of books the very first impression a potential author is likely to get of your book is that of your cover and the title. Is your cover good quality? Does it give an idea of the contents? Here you can see that the author has brought in a professional and the investment will no doubt pay off (if it hasn't already). The title caught my interest too.
Once you have brought the reader onto your books page you have to grab them with the blurb. You all know how this works so I won't go into too much detail. Make sure it's sharp, interesting and free of grammatical errors and typos! In the case of this book Rafael actually used his elevator pitch instead which goes something like this:
A vampire, a werewolf, a few hundred zombies, and terrorists who deploy Lovecraftian WMDs. The vampire is a federal agent who likes fried chicken and cold beer. He's just learned that he's going to die in 8 hours.

Finally the writing itself needs to be the very best it can be. I have lost count of the number of books I have walked away from because they were horribly written. I don't mean just personal taste here, I mean stupid grammatical errors and other things you shouldn't have in your work. I’d highly recommend you bring in a professional editor but again, that's for another post another time.

Now that you have the very best product you can possibly put out there, you need to make sure the world knows about. First things first, who are your target audience? There is after all no point in trying to marketing a gory horror to fans of soft romance. I'll use Hexcommunicated again as it's already right there. This is a contemporary fantasy, it's fast paced and action packed. It is then logical to say that the target audience is people who enjoy contemporary fantasy, perhaps softer thrillers, you may be able to use the vampire card as well due to the main character.

Once you have your target audience figured out you need to think like them. What is it which makes them enjoy that particular set of characteristics within a book? Which boxes does your book tick and how does it do it better than the other similar books on the market? You have to play to your strengths. There's a place for brutal honesty and negativity, this isn't it. With this book there's a small range of people and points of appeal there. This means we can implement a broader spectrum of language usage and bait. For example, we could appeal to the vampire lovers. For those we would use focus on the main character, how he's a new take on the old vampire myth and something very different to the Twilight sparkly wannabes.

You now have some ideas about your target and how you're going to pique their interest. What now? This is where you need to get a little creative. Don't use spam. Just do not go there. An advert for your book on social media once in a while is perfectly acceptable if you hit the right tone and keep it t a lower frequency. It soon becomes white noise and irritates people though, don't become one of those people. To keep things simple we'll follow the vampire lover route for the moment. Google+ is my primary base so I'll use that as an example. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Google+ is about fostering discussion, debate and interaction. This is absolutely fantastic for authors. Interaction and engagement are really important and will help get your name out there. Word of mouth is after all the best form of marketing.

Sticking with the vampire idea, use that to spark discussion. You could bring up something about mythology on vampires around the world, the differences and how it has changed over the centuries. Bring in people who are interested in that particular archetype, talk to them about why they love it so much. Don't shove your book down people's necks, you want them to come to you. Make sure that you have easy to access links to your book on your profile and it's clear that you have written it. When people get curious about you they will go and look. Once they have become used to your presence and are happy to talk about those topics you can gauge an appropriate time to casually and politely mention your book.

Let's break this down into the key points:

Produce a very good quality book. There's a lot of competition out there.

Make sure you know your target audience.

Do NOT spam!

Interact, engage, and be polite.

You can find me on Google+ here:

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