Today, I want to explore two things many writers dread doing, but that plenty of successful authors actually do:
- Overtly ask people to buy your book.
- Repeat that request again, and again, and again.
I’ll bet you are cringing already. You are thinking one of two things:
- “I am TIRED of hearing authors push their book on me in obnoxious manners. Come on Dan, this is the age of “permission marketing,” where the likes of Seth Godin preach of selling books by aligning with your audience, not pestering them.”
- “I do NOT want to become a salesperson. I am a writer, a creator. I want to retain my integrity as I share my work with the world.”
I hear you, and I will address both issues in the post below. Let’s dig in…
IF YOU PUBLISH A BOOK IN AN EMPTY FOREST, WILL ANYONE BUY IT?
The world is crowded. With modern media, there is so much vying for our attention. We are all busy: working, writing, raising families, attending to friends, keeping a home, and pursuing hobbies. Your book – as good as it is – is born into a world that is trying to filter things OUT. A world where many people are swamped, underwater, over-scheduled, and barely making ends meet.
Yes, these same people are looking for joy. A respite. A wonderful escape or solution – something that perhaps your book offers them. But getting them to pause for a moment to discover it can be akin to crossing a crowded 8 lane highway just after a Justin Beiber concert let’s out, in the faint hope that there is something worthwhile on the other side of the road.
Walk into a bookstore tomorrow (if you can find one,) and slowly stroll to the very back. While walking past the rows and rows of books, be mindful of how many individual books you pass. Those published over the course of decades. Get to the back shelf, get down on one knee, and pick up a random book on the bottom shelf, one in which only the spine is facing out.
Imagine, this is your book on the day of publication. Consider all of the effort it took to find this book, all of the distractions you moved past JUST while in the bookstore.
Sheepish about marketing your book? I COMPLETELY understand that. It is scary. As adults, we often have a hard time admitting we are scared. But it’s daunting – a whole new skillset that can even threaten what we feel our identity is. We don’t want to be that classic image of a used car salesman. We want to wake up surprised that someone we greatly respect found our work, and is sharing it with their ultra-cool friends.
We want magic to happen.
But in order for people to take action (to perhaps consider buying your book), they need to become aware of it. They need to make an informed decision.
REPETITION WORKS. REALLY, REPETITION WORKS.
Obviously, there are all kinds of studies and opinions about why repetition works in marketing.
In the age of social media, repetition can be valuable because of the way we actually use social media, which is to say: in the moment. If fellow Writer Unboxed contributor Yuvi Zalkow has a book coming out (and by sheer coincidence, he does), I may want to Tweet about it. So at 4:35pm ET on a Tuesday, I send a single Tweet telling my Twitter followers about it. And you know what, I feel good about myself for doing it. I feel like I have supported an author, and I pat myself on the back, give myself a little high five, and feel I lived up to all of my mother’s hopes and dreams for me becoming a good little boy.
But at 4:35pm ET on a random Tuesday, how many people see that Tweet? The more I watch successful authors, and successful marketers of any type, the more I see how they use repetition to get their message out there, build awareness, and encourage their audience to take action. But of course, there is GOOD repetition, and BAD repetition.
Okay, let’s dig into an example…