First, some gratuitous self-promotion. LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT! See that link there? Where it says RISING is Coming Soon? It’s a sign-up for publication information on Rising: Book One of the Adept Cycle. SignUpNow! 😀 Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post….
Yesterday’s discussion centered around publishing. Today, I’m going to talk about marketing. First and foremost, let me throw out my life-long mantra (thank you my dear Richard Bach!)
“You teach best what you most need to learn.” – Richard Bach
Yes, I’m relatively new to my acceptance of my part in in this whole “marketing” world. And to be honest, the old methods of sales-pitchy marketing turn my stomach. And in the spirit of complete transparency… I’ve made fun of many a corporate marketing strategy.
CEO: “Hey Shanan! Here’s our new brand slogan!” *launches into an energetic, 10-minute description of said slogan*
CEO: “So, what do you think?”
Me: “I think that if it takes you ten minutes to clarify why you chose that particular slogan, it’s not a very good slogan.”
Now I find myself on the awkward other-side-of-the-fence. I’m learning marketing. The how-to. The how-not-to. The savvy, less-in-your-face approach that has spun into existence because of the Internet. The decline of pitches that read like this…
Buy your copy of Rising today! Just $9.99! But wait! There’s more! If you act now, you’ll also receive this customizable belly button lint picker!
So how does one go about starting a marketing campaign for a brand new novel, and have said campaign come out the other end looking sophisticated and savvy, and more importantly, actually find its way into the correct hands?
First, we must decide whose hands need to receive our message.
In other words, I have to define my market.
I think this is decidedly easier with nonfiction. A nonfiction book is written with a specific demographic in mind. For example, my new site FasterThanTakeout.com that I’m spinning up is geared specifically toward Health-Conscious-People-With-Busy-Schedules-Who-Want-To-Decrease-Their-Dependence-On-Fast-Food.
But my novel? My gut response is EVERYONE GETS A COPY!
Hey, a girl can dream, right? Sadly, this doesn’t help me build a marketing strategy. So it’s time to get back to basics.
What is my genre?
Bookstores are laid out in sections – or genres, when it comes to fiction. Amazon is categorized, subcategorized, and broken down again and again, allowing the author to very precisely pigeonhole the genre of the book. This is a Very Good Thing. Knowing exactly what genre my novel falls into allows me to build up my marketing platform to attract a very specific type of reader. The precise categorization of a book also helps it stand out against the millions of other books in circulation.
Who are my customers based on my competition?
First and foremost – I don’t believe in competition when it comes to writing. I have comrades, compadres, and counterparts, but never competition. But for the sake of this conversation, and in terms of marketing, my “competition” would be defined as other writers in my genre. My fans would be those who read Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, J.R. Ward, Kim Harrison, Neil Gaiman (hey, set your sights high, right?)…
Make a list. Check it twice. Capture all aspects of your book. I could throw John Grisham in there for the crime aspect of my novel, and I could add Dan Brown, because: Suspense.
Putting it together – were will I place my book in Amazon’s categorization system?
Where to categorize your genre fiction in Amazon is the same as defining your target market. If you have a basic idea of your genre (“I write fantasy”) and you know some of your “competition” (See above)… then go on an Amazon scavenger hunt, and take notes! When you look up a book on Amazon, the left-hand menu tells you exactly what you need to know about genre and categorization…
Next, ask myself, why would my competition-authors’ readers be interested in my book?
Many people stick to certain genres when reading fiction. It’s important to know which genre your own book falls into before jumping off the deep end. So I back up a bit, look at my book and ask myself, what will draw readers to my book? And then I compare it to my scavenger-hunt list.
Genre is a fluffy, changeable beast, and if your book is like mine, it crosses lines. From the categories above, Rising crosses from Paranormal & Urban Fantasy into Humorous and Myths & Legends. It also has elements of suspense and crime fiction. So I start circling which genre categories best represent my book.
Now, we put it all together.
Readers who enjoy action-packed, suspenseful and sometimes-humorous stories, who read in the urban fantasy, mythology and paranormal genres are my target audience for Rising. My secondary market includes readers in the suspense & crime fiction world who enjoy an occasional foray into the fantastic.
The beauty part here is that Amazon allows more than one categorization.
I would go for Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Urban & Paranormal
and.. get this…
Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Paranormal
Cross-genre, yet specific down to “Paranormal”. Between the two categories, it covers my entire target audience. Perfecto!!
Tip to the wise… Be specific. Also, follow the numbers. Categorize your book in the best-fit, most-specific category with the least number of books listed. Less books in your category means less of a climb to the top of that ladder!
Beyond Amazon – Stay Consistent
Once you dial in your desired Amazon categorization, keep it consistent and go hog-wild. Use it for all of your marketing – press releases, signings, the approaching of the bookstores and libraries, conventions, expos, Internet ads, etc. The key is: if someone who reads your genre hears about your book through word-of-mouth, your message regarding genre categorization should be so clear that your potential reader can find it by browsing the categories. Additionally, your message should be so consistent that when a reader does have the link/book name, the listed category online or store shelf location should not come as a surprise.
Furthermore, when you blog about your book – and you will – because you should! – you already have a starting point and skeletal frame for your posts. Use Content Marketing principles to inform your potential readers about your world and characters, and entice them to learn more, without offering any sort of belly-button-lint-picker to go with their purchase.
Make your readers buy your book by showing them that you know them, and you know they’ll love it!