The Dirty M Word

I haven’t written in a while – have you missed me? Of course you have. But there’s a very good reason, I assure you. You see I am a very important and busy AUTHOR now so I have no time for the frivolity of blogs and twitters and facebook and the like. As I am very important. And busy.

Which leads me into the murky waters of *den den derrrrr* Marketing yourself.

You see we AUTHORS are very busy. And important.

But if you ask a reader the author of the last book they read – chances are, they’ll say ummm, arrrr, you know. That one…someone. Starts with L…

Unless you’re Dan Brown or JK Rowling, it’s fairly likely that no one will remember your name.

Maybe they’ll remember the name of your book (Fifty Shades of Brown) or they’ll remember the story (you know, the one about the woman whose father was killed and her brother was hanged and their horse ran away) but chances are – THEY WON’T REMEMBER YOUR NAME.

Seriously.

Readers don’t remember your name.

They remember your book.

If they like your second book – they might remember your name. They might. And that’s only if the publisher splashes your name in a dirty great big font across the cover. (I’m talking to you Nicholas Sparks)

But for all of us swimming in the shallow putrid waters of book publishing – we will always struggle with name recognition. Fact.

So – I’ve handed out the dire news. Surely I should offer a solution. A how-to guide on how to get readers to remember your name. Unfortunately, you are not going to like what I’m going to say.

Why?

Because you’ve tried it all before. You’ve done it all. Social media, advertising, giveaways, book signings. And nothing works. After all your hard work, you still only sell 3 more copies. And that was to your mum who was embarrassed because she spotted your book in the bargain basement bin. And it was a three for one deal. I mean – that’s value for money.

But what I’m going to tell you is to try again. And perhaps think of it in a different way.

You’re not an AUTHOR (I don’t know why I’m still shouting at you). You are a brand. The trick is – and I know it’s difficult – to distance yourself from…yourself. Imagine you are not selling yourself, but a product. Let’s say you are a bag of chips. For arguments sake.

What flavour chips are you? Are you fat free or full of salt and taste? Do you have a bright pink pack that screams fun or are you all dark and moody for eating with wine and cheese? Where do people buy you? On their way to catch a bus? As part of their weekly shop?

Now you know what kind of chips you are. So you need to get your packet in the face of anyone who wants to buy your chips. Right place, right time, right buyer.

Am I losing you?

I get it. You’re not a bag of chips. But you are a product that needs to be sold and marketed like a bag of chips. And like the chips, you need to figure out what sets you apart from everyone else. Really get to know your voice and who loves it. Then set about making sure your chips (your name) are wherever those chip-buyers (readers) are.

But let me tell you right now. Up front. Standard marketing clause. Expenditure does not always equal immediate sales. Let me repeat that for those in the nose-bleeds. Expenditure does not always equal immediate sales.

What this means is that when you do your giveaway/give your radio interview/attend your book signing you may not sell a damn thing. Not one measly book. No matter how much it cost you to get there or how much you giveaway.

But the value of that event is not always measured in sales. It’s measured in Brand Worth.

But I just want to sell more bloody books! I know petal, I know. Look, sit down – I’ll put the kettle on, we’ll have a cuppa.

The idea is that you will sell more books. Eventually. What you need to do is get your name in the right place at the right time to the right people.

Brandishing your book around like a limp dick in a nightclub will get you nowhere. People will avert their eyes. They’ll shun you for your shameless self-promotion – even if you’re hung like a unicorn. (Which I’m told are very hung)

What you need to do is get your name into the heads of the people that give a shit.

And for me – old school is the best school. And that means turning up at a few events. Put your mug in people’s faces. Talk to the readers. Ask them what they think of your book. Pat a few heads and kiss a few babies.

Do you write historical fiction? Get thee self to the nearest Jane Austen Festival

Serve up crime with a dose of murder? Then handcuff yourself to the next Crime and Justice Festival

Find out who in the media is looking for comments on your genre of fiction at The Source Bottle and contribute your expert opinion

Write hot, young, contemporary romance? Give Shop Till You Drop a call and have them feature your kick-arse wardrobe in their ‘In My Space’ section

Why? Because you can’t just tell people who you are. You have to show them. (Where have you heard that before?)

Show them that you live history/experience crime (not literally…I hope)/are an expert on your genre or have a wardrobe a contemp romance heroine would kill for. You need to make your readers believe. Make yourself more than just a name. Become the brand. Be at one with the Brand. Then your reader will trust you. And they will love you. And they will follow you.

This means of course, you need to be your own marketing team. It’s tiresome. It’s time consuming. It’s sometimes thankless and the pay sucks. But when you get your name out there you might…just might…get someone to remember it.

And next time that person is in the bookstore browsing the shelves – your name might be the one to jump out. “Oh yes, I’ve heard of her/him – they were in that magazine, you know the one. Starts with E. No, I can’t remember the name of that magazine but I do remember the name of this brilliant author. I shall buy their book immediately.”

Boom. Sold. My work here is done.

Aaaand Jazz hands. I’m out.

J x

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