As authors, we need to do the same: a) write the best stories we possibly can and b) market the hell out of our books.
It took me 10 years to finish my memoir, which just came out at the end of February, 2009. I haven't been a marketing/pr professional since 1999--I've thought of myself as a writer. But now I realize I must wear two hats and I must learn to switch between those two hats in any given day. If the writing isn't going well, I can shift to marketer. If I'm having trouble "selling" myself, it's back to writing I will go.
It's funny (not ha ha funny) that I've been so unwilling to utilize my marketing expertise on myself. I still find myself wanting to help others, like my singing coach, for example. I'll give her all sorts of ideas on how to let people know about her services. Why is it so hard for writers to "sell" themselves? Because it feels like selling your children. Well, I realized this past week that my book is not my child, even though I birthed it. It represents many years of pain, tears, lessons learned, losses beyond measure, and the blood and sweat that went into getting that all down on paper. I do have something to say and hopefully if it finds its way into readers' hands, they will gain something from it.
So I am going to share a handy dandy little marketing device I used when first starting out with clients. They say that you teach what you need to learn, so here goes. It involves creating a table with four columns:
Target Audience Current Perception Desired Perception Tools/Tactics
In the first column, you list the audiences who might benefit from or be interested in reading your book. The way to do this is to identify themes that run through the manuscript. In my memoir, there are several themes: low self-esteem, early childhood sexual molestation, dysfunctional family, poor relationship choices, adolescent promiscuity, child custody loss, parental alienation syndrome, to name a few. From the themes, come up with groups you might target: survivors of childhood sexual abuse, adult children of alcoholics, womens' support groups, rape crisis centers, etc.
Once you have a target audience list, determine what their current perception of you/your book is. In most cases, it will be unknown.
In the desired perception column, for each group you've identified, put down what you want them to know about you/your book. It might be a different message for each group, it might not. I would have a different message if I were targeting teenage girls about promiscuity than if I were trying to reach older adults who are discussing their dysfunctional childhoods, for example.
The last column becomes your marketing plan. For each target audience and desired perception, you attach a marketing tool. Here is a partial list of tools/tactics to cull from:
- Speaking engagements
- Articles in newspapers and magazines
- Advertisements in newspapers and magazines
- Direct mail
- Radio and TV interviews
You then need to match a marketing tool with an audience and desired perception. Like so:
Target Audience: Teenage girls
Current Perception: unknown
Desired Perception: become known as advocate for fostering high self-esteem using my book as example of what not to do, by telling my story.
Tools/Tactics: Set up talks at local high schools, camps, wherever I can find groups of teenage girls; Write articles about adolescent promiscuity and its pitfalls; Arrange radio and TV interviews on the topic (would have to write what's called a "pitch" letter to make this happen. It's similar to a query, but not quite the same thing.
Hmm, perhaps I could give seminars to writers on this. What do you think? Nope, that's just another way to take my time away from writing.