Marketing Vs. Selling-The Non-Identical Twins
One of the best panels I attended was led by Tara Lain and Poppy Dennison, “You Only Think You’re Marketing”. These two bestselling romance writers and marketing experts led an over-flowing room (several people were asked to leave by the fire marshal) in an eye-opening session where they debunked some very prevalent myths about marketing. I cannot possible do it credit (even though I took notes) but I would like to highlight some of the most important things I learned in this session.
- Even though marketing and selling go hand in hand, they are NOT identical twins. In fact they are pretty different. In the words of these two amazing ladies, marketing is all the steps to get a product to the market. Marketing is the bow and selling is the arrow. Marketing is an overtime process while selling is immediate.
- An author MUST determine her/his market before considering how to market herself/himself. For romance writers like me the audience is a very wide range of people: mostly (but not exclusively) female, aged between eighteen and sixty-five, voracious readers who will read at an average of three to four books a week.
Things to consider in marketing yourself to such an audience: pricing (if a reader goes through that many books weekly she/he won’t be able to afford to pay too much for the books), availability of e-books (cheaper both for writer and reader), speed to the market (how fast can you get your book in the hands of your readers?) and (this is a huge plus) there is no competition. Romance readers go through books so fast there is room enough for every author.
- In such a fast market a writer must consider the product design. What will the book look like because, let’s face it, how many of us have bought books because you like the title or the cover? Guilty as charged 🙂 But it goes beyond that. The choices a writer (if you do have a choice) makes in the design of her books can help (or destroy) her branding and ultimately sales.
Titles are very important. You must be careful not to start with a “The” or an “A” because those will make it harder for a reader to search and find your book. Also avoid “funny” characters.
Cover design must reflect the content of the book. One of my books has been criticized for having an amazing cover that unfortunately (for me in terms of sales) that doesn’t hint at romance at all (I still love it, lol).
The type font you use for your name on each cover should be uniform across all books so that readers will recognize it immediately.
I also learned (after this panel) that a good blurb can make or kill a sale.
- Build your platform (how many times have you heard this one?) by interacting, not only with potential readers but also with authors that write similar romances (especially with those authors who are doing well in the charts).
- Build a newsletter email list. This one is a tough one for me because not only I lose subscribers weekly but because the large majority of the ones I have haven’t even read my books. So why stick with the newsletter? Because even if there is only a handful of readers that follow you, that is worth its weight in gold. Those readers will talk about your books to their friends or help promote your books online (this is true. I have a couple of very faithful, amazing followers). So nurture that list no matter how useless it seems to be.
- Branding yourself. Tough one. If you like high heels, apparently is a big thing in romance writing. Just kidding. Sort of. I’m always jealous of writers who seem to have it all together. I’ve been trying to brand myself but I’m too over the place, I think. I will come back to this one in a future blog since Lain and Dennison suggested a few interesting things on how to find your thing, the one thing readers will identify you with (other than your books).
- Finally–and apparently a big surprise to some writers–you have to read. Writers are readers. I heard a young writer claim he didn’t read at all because he always took on the tone or the style of writing of the author he was reading. Come on! Really? I wish I could do that actually. Who wouldn’t want to write like Jane Austen or J.K. Rowlings? I don’t have much time to read due to a full time day job and writing afterwards, but I make a conscious effort to do it at least a few times a week, even if it’s only a few pages at a time. I love reading just as I love writing. The two are like two peas in a pod. Besides when you write those reviews for other authors, you’re making friends and gaining allies in the field of publishing.
And there you have it in a nutshell. I hope this can help you a little. I know it helped me. If nothing else it made some things a lot clearer, less of a mystery. After all, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who have a mentor, writing and publishing are pretty much a learn-as-you-go experience.
Good luck to you all and comment with suggestions and/or questions you may have. Until next time.