Monday, December 18, 2006

The Write and Wrong Way to Promote Your Book

In the last issue of her Book Marketing Expert newsletter, Penny Sansevieri wrote a great commentary that she has given me permission to share with you. Here it is:

The Write and Wrong Way to Promote Your Book

Did you know that if you're marketing your book to sell books, you may be marketing for all the wrong reasons? Why? Well frankly, marketing a book to make sales will rarely ring the cash register; in fact, most of the time it amounts to what I call the anti-sale, the sale that always seems to elude you. If you're looking at your last 12 months of marketing and wondering what went wrong, ask yourself one question: "What was the driving force behind my book marketing choices?"

In a recent coaching session an author told me: "I spent $30,000 on advertising and I don't know why I haven't sold a single book." Why did the author advertise? Because she thought it would sell books. Now you might think that $30k is extreme, and perhaps it is, but she isn't the only one. Most of the topics of conversation during coaching calls, consultations or classes I teach are: "I've spent all this money and done all this work, what am I doing wrong?" What you're doing wrong is selling the book and not the message or the benefits. In other words, you're marketing your books for all the wrong reasons. It's not that dissimilar from scheduling a slew of book signings because you think you have to or because you're hoping to sell scads of books. If you hate doing them, and they're not working, why bother?

Let's take a look at the example of our $30k author more closely. She had a book about child rearing, she was a noted speaker, a child psychologist and was quoted extensively in the media. The odd thing was, when you walked into her office her book was no where to be found. "I don't want to be boastful about my book." She said, "I think selling my book to my patients is unethical." Well, perhaps she's right, but still, she was missing the point. The point was that she had her buyers in front of her all the time and yet she overlooked them in search of the almighty book sale. In fact, I found out later that she wasn't even selling her book at her speaking sessions. Why? Because she thought the ad space she bought would be enough to carry the momentum of the book. When we finally broke down her marketing campaign and her options, she realized that she could sell thousands of copies of her book and it wouldn't cost her a dime. She had at her disposal hungry buyers she wasn't even tapping into.

So are you missing your buyers? What piece of your campaign have you overlooked in an attempt to sell your book? To distill this even further, let's go through an exercise together to help unearth some marketing opportunities you might be overlooking. When you do this exercise I want you to remove the notion of book sales from your vernacular, what I mean is I want you to start looking at your efforts through a different lens:

On a separate sheet of paper, list all the marketing that you've done for your book. This may take a while, but seeing it all on paper will be helpful. List everything, even the minutiae.

Now that you have your list, let's take a hard look at it. First off, I want you to cross off the marketing you've done that has just been a total waste of your time. Next, go through and star everything that worked really well. Remember, by "really well," I don't mean book sales, although that could have been a result of your efforts; I mean star the items you really enjoyed doing that seemed to get you great feedback.

What you have left will be a list of mediocre things, marketing ideas you tried that did reasonably well (at least enough so you didn't feel you needed to cross them off with the first batch). Take a hard look at the starred items, what do you see? Quite possibly you see a list of things that a) you loved doing, and b) that sold you some books despite the fact that you didn't think it would.

Now let's expand on that starred list. For example, if you have book events on this list, how can you expand this?

Next, I want you to make a list of the items you're missing. If you are brainstorming an expansion of your star list these missing pieces might be self-evident or they may require some additional brainstorming.

The idea behind this exercise is to become very clear on what's working and what isn't and to focus on the stuff you love doing. Generally the stuff you love is dialed directly into your audience. And if you love it, you'll probably do more of it, and hopefully this will lead you to book sales.

In author coaching I've found that we often set aside the stuff we love because we think book marketing should be hard. Let me tell you, it doesn't have to be. And if you're doing stuff that's hard, you're probably marketing for all the wrong reasons, anyway.

In a recent interview, media darling Rachael Ray cited that for years she did only local media. She would do cooking show after cooking show, often losing money on each one (when you factored in her time, gas, supplies, etc.). So why did she keep doing it? Because she loved it and because it's what she wanted to do. Now, of course, she's on everything from your local cross-town bus to any and all kitchen supplies. I'm not saying that her way of marketing is a recipe for success. Certainly, it worked for her, but the bigger message is that when you do what you love, you'll keep at it, and that’s the key. Whatever you do, you must love it, and you must do a lot of it.

This coming year can be a revelation for your campaign if you take the time to figure out what worked, what didn't, and what you'd love to do more of. Do it because you love it, and the sales will follow. You can bank on it!
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