I posted this today on the Yahoo Self Publishing group in response to a frustrated author.
” I wonder if it as simple as perhaps we are not asking people to buy our books? You can get the freebie advertising but it is like throwing chum to fish. You might get their attention but unless you hook them by the lip you are not going to catch any. …… Musicians and published authors actually go out and play their music or do book signings. Buddy Holly hated touring (and it killed him) but his record sales needed the public appearances.”
I don’t think asking people to buy your book is simple at all. I don’t think it’s as effective as tantalizing them and persuading them.
Most authors and even most publishers devote very little time and effort into the identification, targeting, messaging, acquisition and activation of buyers for their books. Yet figuring this out is crucial.
Even with the incredible technologies available online, people don’t know how to create the messages and communications that pull people in. Instead, they either do very little (as in, build it and they will come), or they push the product, find out how hard it is, and then give up because so few people buy the book.
You can do a lot with the media and technologies online if you seek to understand how people buy or get engaged with your books, products or services.
1. People discover a need, or want to solve a problem.
2. They begin a search usually online, but it can happen on social media like FB or Twitter or any number of other places (including discussion groups like this one)
3. But they really don’t look very hard. They only pay attention to the first few things they discover or the first few recommendations they get from people they have familiarity with.
4. People also tend to go and hang out where they are invited, accepted, entertained or educated.
Now for every type of book, product or service, there are thus hundreds if not thousands of places to search and become associated with.
But as most people now know, you can’t easily sell product and survive the act of asking. You must provide helpful, non-sales laden information, guidance, education or entertainment with subtle links that lead you back to your site. That’s where the real sales process then begins.
So what do you do?
1. Determine who your audience really is! Identify who your best targeted customers are and then figure out where they hang out. Your goal is to then learn how to be prominent and highly regared wherever they hang out.
2. You need to identify the type of content that will turn them on. Is it action laden excerpts? Is it drama? Is it illustrations, games, videos, or helpful tips?
3. You need to learn how to communicate so that your content works wherever you place it. The post for a blog is not automatically what you place in a tweet. The content and the trail of breadcrumbs has to fit the medium.
4. You need to participate in the communities meaningfully. You answer questions and provide feedback, offer tips, advice, stories, humor, experience and enthusiasm, so that people are inspired and get interested and so that you trigger the action to go to your site to explore your product.
5. You create content that people want to link to, want to share, and want to give to others.
This is what you try to do with media when you do publicity. Only now, EVERYONE is a publisher who is trying to make money off subscriptions and/or advertising.
If you do it reasonably well, you get dozens or articles or posts.
If you do phenomenally well, you go viral.
You don’t just write in a vacuum. You develop, test, deploy, analyze and improve.
My simple acronym for this process is this: CACA
C – Create
A – Ask
C – Create again
A – Ask again
Once you prove the message works in your backyard, only then can and should you use technology to try to repeat the success widely.
Your objective is to keep on placing things before YOUR people so they can decide to participate, play or purchase.
But just realize that this is hard to do. Think about it! When was the last time you read the newspaper, and went and grabbed your credit card.
Yet very often, a single piece of information triggers a desire that brings something to mind that does indeed get you to take action. Then and only then do you search for the contact information, the email, the phone or the order form.
Few authors realize that creating the book is only the beginning. To be successful they have to find satisfaction in connecting with people again and again till they get enough action to pay for their investment in the work they created. It’s not just mechanics and technology.
It’s not just fine art or excellence in creative writing.
There’s persistent, dedicated systematic communication outreach that has to drive people to action.
Success often lives or dies with the close monitoring of the one-to one relationship developed between the author and his or her audience.
That is where the author must determine “what did I do and say that turned you on?”
Learn this and you can use the technologies.
Fail to learn this and nothing happens.