Last week I exposed why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Sorry. I didn’t make the rules. Anyone in publishing more than a minute will tell you that the only way to sell books is 1) good book and 2) word of mouth. Ads, commercials, trailers, mailers, bookmarks have minimal effect on the overall sales numbers. If you want to know why, read last week’s post.
Sometimes it seems that life would be easier if traditional marketing could sell books because then we could pay for a nice book trailer and program an automated platform to blitz out “commercial” on every social site. Yet, the fact remains that books are not tacos or car washes. So what’s a writer to do?
Too many writers are in search of what I call “the White Stag”—the voracious reader who devours books like candy. WHY? How many books can you write? Who cares if someone only reads two books a year if one or both are YOUR books? Writers spend far too much time marketing to a very small segment of the population that defines themselves as “readers.” Too much book marketing is happening in places where we are least likely to find most people—book stores, author blogs, book review sites, reader forums. And, you know who makes up the most of these “reader” groups?
Thus, not only are we marketing to one of the smallest sections of society—the self-professed avid reader—but we are also spending far too much time marketing to each other. Writers get on Facebook and Twitter and hang out with each other, befriend each other and talk to each other. They blog about writing and talk about writing…at the expense of talking to potential readers.
Make no mistake, writers are awesome. I spend most of my time talking to writers. Yet, in fairness, you guys are my demographic. Ah, but hold on. Calm down. Writers are incredible, kind and talented. We should befriend writers. They are our professional core and our support network. Yet, where the mistake happens is that fellow writers are our comfort zone. We cannot mistake our professional network for our reader demographic. Will writers make up part of our readership? Yes…but they are not ALL of our readership.
We MUST reach out to fresh blood and bring new readers into the family. If we don’t our platform becomes almost inbred, then starts playing the banjo and firing a shotgun in the air and it’s all downhill from there.
Too many writers spend too much time talking to a small group at the expense of the big picture.
Now, another HUGE misconception many writers have is that, unless someone professes to love reading that they, therefore, do not read at all. Major misconception. Avid readers simply need far less convincing because they already love to read.
Think of it this way.
If I am from India and I grew up eating curry all my life, then likely I will seek out Indian food restaurants. What if, however, I happen to open an Indian food restaurant in Garland, TX? In Garland, there happens to be a lot of people from India. Ah, but the problem is that with a large population of Indians comes a larger presence of Indian food restaurants. If all of them are catering to Indians and offering all kinds of authentic cuisine, then that is very steep competition. How can my little Indian restaurant survive?
I have to think differently.
I can go after the same patrons as all of my competition (fellow Indians), OR I can seek to introduce an exotic food to outsiders who don’t already believe they love Indian food. If I can convince Joe American to just try something different once…then my food can make the fan. Joe will see that MY Indian restaurant has awesome food, and he will not only be loyal (since he is still afraid that other Indian restaurants will give him heartburn), but he will also tell all of his Joe American pals who don’t believe they like curry either.
His opinion will carry more weight with this new population of potential patrons. Why? Well, it’s nothing shocking for an Indian person to love Indian food. BUT, for Joe American who normally lives off hamburgers? His opinion is gold. Joe and his pals likely will still believe they hate Indian food….but THIS restaurant–MY restaurant–is different. My restaurant is that perfect choice for a date night or when you just want something different.
It just takes some creativity when defining our demographic. Put another way.
Why was Julia Child so successful? She made fine French cuisine accessible to average people. See, the other French chefs of her time defined their demographic far too narrowly. They all targeted an elite group of foodies. Julia, however, saw her demographic as anyone who could masticate food and who wanted to enjoy the experience. If you liked good food and maybe liked to cook, YOU were her demographic. Guess what? That was a demographic of hundreds of millions. The result? Julia Child became a legend. She didn’t patronize regular people. She believed that just because they hadn’t grown up in high society, didn’t mean they wouldn’t embrace it and love it if given access.
Too many writers narrowly define their demographic as those people who say they love to read books and they patronize non-readers.
Yet, what is our REAL demographic? Anyone in need of informing or entertaining. THAT demographic is MASSIVE and when we writers mobilize THAT sector of society—the fat part of the bell curve—this is when literary history is made.
The DaVinci Code, the Harry Potter Series, Twilight, Tuesdays with Morrie, Water for Elephants, The Help all ignited a passion for stories in people who normally would not have defined themselves as avid readers.
There is a logical fallacy that is decimating writer platforms. What is a logical fallacy? Well, for those of you who’ve slept since your school years:
All apples are fruits, therefore all fruits are apples.
All avid readers read books, therefore the only people who read books are avid readers.
Non-reader is really a highly inaccurate term. Just because people don’t list reading as a favorite hobby doesn’t mean they don’t read at all. In fact, this group that believes they don’t enjoy reading can become some of THE most fiercely loyal fans. Why? Because they still believe they don’t like reading unless they are YOUR books. See that neat transition?
There are millions of people who claim they don’t like reading, but they bought every last hard-cover of the Harry Potter series. Many of them might not ever read another author because J.K. Rowling has their undying devotion.
So how do we tap into this fat part of the bell curve? How do we convince people who’d rather hack up monsters on X Box or watch American Idol that our book is worth parting with their precious free time? It’s actually pretty simple. Get out of the comfort zone. Writers are wonderful. Writing groups rock. But, here are the problems:
1. This is an oversaturated market. It doesn’t take any creativity to market to fellow writers or avid readers. Every writer who gets on social media has the same “bright idea” and talks to the same people in the same forums.
2. Writers are wonderful and supportive, but we all know a half a zillion writers and can only buy so many books.
3. If all of us are only talking to other writers or avid readers, then our word-of-mouth has a limited range of influence.
The upside to branching out to non-writer groups:
1. We are likely to be the only writer and so we will be more unique and stand apart. Writers do have a certain celebrity status and regular people get excited to meet published authors.
2. Since this group doesn’t have 142 friends with new books out they are easier to move toward the sale. They will generally be more excited about the sale as well.
3. If they buy and LIKE our books, they are more prone to talk about it. Why? Because they believed they disliked curry reading, yet now they LOVED the experience. So now they want to proselytize to all their friends who also believe they can’t stomach Indian cuisine reading about this AMAZING restaurant book that is different. It is actually FUN, and AWESOME, and NOT PAINFUL. THIS is how real word-of mouth catches fire, goes viral, and mobilizes that fat part of the bell curve that creates publishing legends.
Next week we will talk more about some ways to break out of the comfort zone and start tapping into larger networks that can become readers. Go after new blood. I want all of you to start having more confidence in your work. Yes, your books can be loved by people who love to read and that is wonderful. But how wonderful will it be to be such a great storyteller that you CREATE a passionate reader? THAT is talent and what all good stories are capable of. Humans are story people. It’s in our blood. You have the power to ignite that hidden passion, so why settle for less?
What are your thoughts? Opinions? I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.
Glad you put this out there Kristen. Having more than writers in our immediate digital community also makes life a lot more interesting for us, the writers and bloggers.
For non readers, finding a book they enjoy reading is a novelty, and that’s a facet of marketing that’s as old as time. It’s good to get into the mindset of those who say they don’t read for a number of reasons. Good post.
All good points on what doesn’t work. I’m still trying to make sense of how to do what does work, and to find those networks of nonwriters.
I am going to give a list of those ways next week. I had to get people past the notion that non-readers don’t read books at all. They do. Once we understand that, we can start thinking creatively. Next week I will give some methods, but WANA also has some if you are dying to know right away :D.
I read WANA, so I guess I’m just one of those types who likes specific instructions. I tried finding some groups on FB, but FB has a little notice saying in a month or so they’re deleting all groups in order to reformat or something (content will be saved, but members have to rejoin). Plus, what I did find looked like a bunch of other writers promoting their own works, back to that inbreeding, right?
I’ll give you a tip to keep you in the meantime :D. If you are on Twitter, start exploring new hashtags that might be used by people who can buy your books.
For instance, if I write sci-fi then my potential reader likes science. So open a TweetDeck column for #science #discovery #NASA #popsci #transformers and start making friends and talking to people. Make friends with people with a passion for science. If you write romance, go to popular hashtags used by women like #oprah or #LifeNStyle or #ellen or #vogue (double check those #s). A lot of shows, movies and magazines have their own Twitter columns. Talk to their fans and make some of your own.
Discovery Channel, History Channel, Toddlers and Tiaras, OWN. A lot of people who love certain TV channels or shows might fall into a demographic that would be easy to convince to buy your book. Branch out and start talking to normal folk using Twitter to chat and find new, cool stuff :D.
Angela, I’m so glad you asked that. I was wondering, too! Looking forward to next week, Kristen. 🙂
I look forward to hearing more about how to branch out. My stories are largely regional, so I’ve been branchihg out to city, state and Southern groups. This happens organically when doing research for writing.
I am excited because I am not a published author, but someone who has a dream of being one. I just started my blog and most of my readers are NOT other writers, but people who like to read what I write about. So, maybe it is good to be a newbie. Thank you for your insight. It inspires me to continue to try to write things that a non-reader, non-writer would want to read!
By the way, the picture totally freaked me out. Can’t look at it. 🙂
I’m sorry that picture totally grosses me out.
Great information which I’m still trying to figure out while expanding my blog.
I did learn how to get a zillion people to read your blog – write about tattoos (re: Amanda’s blog yesterday – and I didn’t copy link and can’t remember her last name at the moment).
Brilliant post, Kristen, this issue has been niggling at the back of my brain for some time – when I get books pushed at me on every social media venue there is. After while, I just want to yell STOP IT!
I’ve subconciously followed your advice on Twitter. I have two lists; ‘writer friends’ and ‘PBR friends’ (I write WF revolving around the world of Pro Bull Riding.) which is my target market. I post Tweets geared to each. Hopefully it’s going to pay off when I’m published, having already established relationships with my potential readers!
Greetings. Heh. Sorry. yes, it’s me again. I’d apologise, but I probably wouldn’t mean it :-).
First, if it isn’t stating the obvious (hey, I’m male. It’s sort of compulsory :-P), I agree with every word you said. So why am I posting? Because I’m a desperately keen to impress you so much you spontaneously volounteer to put together a marketing campaign for ‘Comedy of Terrors’, even though I have no marketing budget and you wouldn’t make a cent?
Er, no :-).
Well, not unless you want to :-PP.
OK. I wasn’t serious. Truly. Of course, even if I was, I’d probably lie :-P.
So why am I posting? Well, because I agree with every word you say. And I really, really agree with one of the words.
Demographics. I hate that word :-).
you’ve talked about this before. I thought it was in WANA, but I just re-read it (I’m a fast reader :-P), and I can’t find it. But, wherever you said it, you said something like ‘don’t hunt buffalo where the aardvarks hang out’. If you’re hunting readers, hunt where your readers hang out. But that begs the question – what do your buffalo look like?
We often don’t really know.
One of the sites I hate is the site for the Romance Writers of America. Why do I hate it? Well, mostly because it’s blindingly good. And because I’m not a Romance Writer :-P. But, specifically, even if you’re not a member of the RWA, you can go there. Or a part of there. If you go to:
They’ll tell you things. They’ll tell you things like:
74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008.
Women make up 90.5 percent of the romance readership, and men make up 9.5 percent.
The heart of the U.S. romance novel readership is women aged 31–49 who are currently in a romantic relationship.
The percentage of people in each (US) geographic area who read romance novels:
Northeast: 21.5 percent
Midwest: 28.8 percent
South: 25.1 percent
West: 23.6 percent
See? They tell you. Tell you ‘stuff’. Other sites, for other genres? Not so much.
Of course, the information is out there. And because it’s information, it’s valui… volua… vilouv… er, you have to pay for it :-P. Publishers Weekly and Bowkers produce the ‘US Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report’, It includes in-depth book data, demographics, psychographics, genre category breakdowns, distribution channel analysis and buying trends. Boy, would that be good to have!
Er… did I mention it costs $999? A copy? :-P.
I’m a comic fantasy writer. Well, I am if you laugh :-). So who are my buffalo? Are they 76% red headed plumbers from Boise, Indiana? Probably not. Especially since Boise is in Idaho :-). Are they mostly married and like Star Trek? Surprising mini-survey result – a lot of Science Fiction readers I’ve talked to don’t like fantasy much. And vice-versa.
So yes. I agree with every word, wise lady. Now all I have to work out is – what colour are my bloody buffalo? And do they like eucalyptus, or prefer chocolate?
Have you tried adwords.google.com? You can search words and see how many times that word has been searched on google?
You can sign up but not use their advertising services.
(Faint echoes of the Beach Boys in the background 🙂 )
I don;t want to pre-empt Lady Kristen’s next postings. Heh, well, I guess to a degree I already have. Oops – sorry Lady K :-). But yes, I have looked at ad-words. One of the problems is that the tool itself, or the message itself, distorts the medium. That is, a lot of the time when I went hunting for the sources of ad-words users, all I found was other people who were hunting what I was. It’s a bit like being out in the wilds and listening for duck calls – a lot of them could be other duck hunters :-).
As the wise lady says, Twitter hashtags can be useful, but there can be the same issue. You can spend a lot of time chasing down and generating lists that end up containing other people sending messages hopefully – looking for people who want to read the content. It’s a bit like SETI – if every race in the universe is hopefully looking for other people sending messages, but nobody’s sending, nobody’s going to find much.
OK. It’s nothing like SETI :-).
And yes, hashtags can be good. But it would be nice to hunt in places that aren’t Twitter – and to have more tools. So I should probably be quiet and wait for Lady K’s next posts. Sadly, I’m not very good. At the quiet thing, I mean (blushes).
Looking forward to more posts about this! I need help with it. I’m trying to find and reach out to people who are interested in my topic rather than writers or avid readers, but it’s been challenging so far.
Kristen, yes, yes, yes! Since joining several branches of RWA (recommended for writing craft education) I recognized the circular loop promotion amongst writers in the RWA genres (there are many!) and wondered how to break out beyond those boundaries. Before I began writing, nearly all books I read came to me via word of mouth or sharing from friends who loved a book.
I look forward to learning the best way to reach out to folks, and trying to find my brand. (Via your online blogging class) Still rusty with Twitter hash tags, and hope to nail the “how to” very soon.
Book 1 of my all time favorite series was placed in my hands after I queried my daughter, “Do you have a good book to read around here?” (Duh, she has an MFA and writes for a living.) She handed me “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. This is an example of word of mouth. The sales don’t materialize instantly but grow exponentially over the years if the book is a great book.
Thanks for the inspiration!
I think the big elephant in the room is we had better create a product that the consumer enjoys. Then marketing it in the world of non-writers will be incredibly easy since like you said there is nothing compared to word of mouth.
Another great post!
Looking forward to the next~
I do think you have hit on something. It is scary to try and market to non-readers because it’s a test of whether we really DO have storytelling talent. It can be a reckoning. Writers can be very much our safe zone. We will talk more about that in future posts. Thanks for the comment!
Ok, I’m a believer! You have mentioned in other posts to disregard the advice about MySpace in your book WANA (including if one writes YA, one must be on MySpace). I’m writing my first YA novel and it has no vampires, wizards, or anything paranormal, isn’t sci-fi or post-apocalyptic. I’m left still looking for where to reach my non-writer readers. So far I’m seeking out parents and teachers. Any other ideas?
Great timing, I was thinking about how nerve-wracking it can be to network with people you are not sure about. It is so true about needing to get out of the regular comfort zone and reach out to those bigger demographics.
Once again, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. I follow a lot of other writers, but a few months ago started to follow hashtags that might relate to potential readers of my WIP. I’m writing a paranormal mystery (my homicide detective is a vampire). I started to follow things like #vampires #mystery #detective, etc. I’m getting some very interesting info on what other who use those tags like to talk about. Now I just have to figure out how to tap into those subjects while being genuine.
I can’t wait for the follow up article with more ideas on what/how to do more. You’re blog is always fantastic.
Ditto to everything Annaliese just said 🙂
I found myself nodding in agreement several times during this post. In fact, it took all of my willpower to keep from pointing to the screen and saying, “Yes! That!” Great points as usual, Kristen! 🙂
Thanks. This is great stuff.
(One nitpick: Julia Child, not Childs.)
Oops. will go fix. Thanks! 😀
Fantastic points! As someone very new to this whole social networking thing, I can see I still have a lot to learn…
OMG, that first picture was enough to scare me into reading this whole post. Thanks for the kick and the info.
Very nice, Kristen! Looking frwd to next post!
Great post! I agree with every sentiment (minus the curry-haters; indian food is delicious!). You hit the key to book marketing and sales success right on the nose. Will be tweeting this post and sharing with others. Keep ’em coming!
Arrrrgh! Why are you always so right? I love my writer friends on FB and Twitter, but I need to stretch myself. I’ve known this for a long time and having you say it here just makes it so final.
And now I have to wait until next week to find out what I’ve got to do? That’s worse than waiting to see who got booted from Project Runway!
Thanks for *another* great blog, Kristen. Seriously, thank the stars I found you because you have the best advice.
Sorry. I would love to give you guys the tips right away but the blog is already so LONG, LOL. The more I try to write shorter posts, the longer they seem to get.
Brilliant! I’ve been thinking this same thing for the past couple of months.
Once I self-published my book, I began looking for ways to promote myself. What I found is that where I went, I would find the same authors over and over again doing the same thing – promoting themselves.
My FB page is nothing but book pitches anymore – many of them I skip over.
I’m looking forward to your suggestions on how to branch out to find my other readers.
Time to start checking out those #SF and #sciencefiction hashtag audiences….
Whoops. Those are reader-oriented. I guess I need to delve deeper and find out what subjects and themes in my book will catch FUTURE science fiction readers.
Profile WHO the reader is. Like thrillers generally appeal to males over 30. What do males over 30 enjoy other than reading thrillers? They like football and military stuff and XBox. Play profiler ;).
Kristen, I almost choked on a muffin I laughed so hard at that photo. What are you like? (This is a term of endearment from the North of England btw.)
I’ve just started my blog and am a twitter virgin, well just broken in actually. And one of the things I’ve wanted to do is to reach out to readers rather than writers. One the #tags I’ve been looking at are the foodies. At the moment I have a guest blogger writing about her award winning wedding cakes and superb muffin recipes. The blogger is the heroine of my next book and this appears to be going down well with readers who have emailed me, strangely enough, rather than commenting. Go figure.
I should mention that in real life I am a complete clutz in the kitchen and I can play off that with my heroine, it’s made a couple of people laugh. I also have a large family and stuff is always happening around them too that I can link into the foodie stuff with my fictional guest blogger. I know this is going to take time, but I’m going to give the characters in the next book their own posts, without giving away the plot. At least then readers will, hopefully, want to know what I did to the poor buggers.
I think this is a brilliant blog for all writers, be they new or published. You are a thinker and it’s wonderful to watch your brain cooking on gas.
Tonight I purchased We Are Not Alone and downloaded it to my Kindle app on my computer.
So, there I am reading the part about blogging. And what do you know, there I am on my spanking new blog doing virtually everything that Kristen is telling me not to do. I am hanging my head in shame here.
But all is not lost, I went back into the three posts that mentioned my ‘being edited book and the spunky characters’ and re-wrote the posts.
Perhaps I should have bought the book before setting up the blog? Makes sense doesn’t it.
And I shall re-do the photo on gravitar and be more professional. I’m crossing my eyes on this one and thought it would be a fun one to show my personality.
So if anyone read the above post and thought ‘that sounds like a good idea’ – trust me, it’s not.
AND HEY THERE’S THE PHOTO – WOO HOO!
Thanks to all of you who helped me yesterday.
Very true. Can’t wait for next week’s posts. I’ve been trying to think of ways step outside the writer circle. -goes to play with hashtags now- Gotta love Tweetdeck,makes life so much easier!
I’m looking forward to the next post. You got our attention. We’re listening…and waiting for more!
Interesting insights. Thanks for the read.
I agree, Kristen. I’ve been branching out by subscribing to non-writer blogs that I find fun and interesting and I try out new Twitter hashtags for vavrious groups of people. I also look for groups on Twitter through Listorious to find people to follow. Can’t live in under a rock with just your other under-the-rock critters. Gotta crawl out and find another rock, or a leaf or a sidewalk crack. You never know who you might meet!
Btw, Tweeting and FaceBook-ing!
This post is taking us (writers and prospective writers) in a very good direction.
Just yesterday I saw something done by one of the writers I follow. She posted a guest column on a blog devoted to cooking, giving the recipes for the unique dishes served to characters in her novel.
I thought this was a very creative way for her to branch out into a new market and attract readers to her book!
Kristen, While although I am a new reader, I cannot say thank you enough.
1. I wanted so badly to have a minimalist theme for my blog and Fusion was perfect!
2. I read “Are You There Blog, It’s Me Writer?” in one afternoon and it answered all of my questions on blogging and social media graces.
3. I agree that blogging and social networking should be inclusive and inviting. We never know who our true audience will be.
4. From today forward, there is no looking back. Not when we could seize the day. Thank You!
I’ve really been loving these posts about audience. My audience should not be (only) other writers, so I’ve been branching back out into things I enjoyed doing before this book took over my life. It’s a lot more fun than just talking about writing all the time 🙂
At one point, I tried to make this statement and was laughed at. It didn’t make sense that we should continuously market to other writers. we need to expand and go beyond that. That’s why I don’t follow a hundred blogs or constantly bug other writers to read my books. I concentrate more on the work and not so much on the marketing, although i have made commercials, but at zero cost to me so i don’t regret them. I’ve had a ton of people tell me they’ve let others borrow my book from them and that was where i got the most feedback.
When I first started out on Twitter (listen to me sound like an old fogey — that was just earlier this year), I tried to cast a broad net and interact with people on non-writing hashtags — #knitting, #steampunk, #amreading, #flylady — but gradually I’ve sunk more and more into writing-specific corners of Twitter. It’s so much fun to tweet with other writers, but it’s also limiting, as you point out. I need to make sure I do both kinds of tweets. Thanks for the kick in the pants!
Great post! This is something I think about all the time (but don’t necessarily act on). My readers would be outdoorsy types who also like to read–hikers, kayakers, etc–but I can’t figure out an effective way to reach them.
I look forward to your list next week.
Girl, you have the best pad thai *cross out* tips for writers. 😉
That’s quite the picture. I hope I don’t meet that individual.
I have wondered that exact thing no ever since I started getting into the social media platform. There was this little voice saying if all your media friends are writers…..? Something seemed off but didn’t know what to do about it and Im so glad you are not only addressing it but going to help us solve this odd problem! Ill be reading!
Thank you for another hugely useful article. I’ve been blogging for two years now but NOT as a ‘writer’ and so I’ve come to the ‘writing online circle’ late. I’ve always wondered about this. If a person only writes about writing stuff and seeks out other writers ( also writing about writing stuff) then who in heck is going to buy her book? Esp if she writes fiction? Yes, SOME of the other writers will, but theres only so many books writers can buy from each other.
I appreciate the writing advice I get from the writer blogs – and Kristen, yours is the bestest of all of them. (My many times chopped and edited novel thanks you, every time u post abt something that needs to be cut out, i run and look at my book, and eek! There it is…) However, the majority of my platform building time and my social media presence time – goes towards connecting with non-writers. It started with family ( and thank goodness Samoans have HUGE families LOL) then spread to friends, then to Polynesians in general, then to all people who enjoy reading abt the same stuff i do – parenting, food, Twilight, tattoos, teenagers who drive me nuts, rugby players, life as a Domestic Goddess in NZ and more. So I’m a person/friend/blogger who just HAPPENS to be a writer as well and so the “non-readers” that I hang out with online and in real life, are translating to readers ( and buyers) of my books. Slowly but one baby step at a time.
Thanks for all the great ideas. I love the way you compared it to the restaurant. Makes it easier to see. Only problem with that is that you made me hungry for some good Indian food! 🙂
Excellent and helpful post, Kristen. I’ve been wondering the same thing,and am guilty as charged.
Great post! Many of us can see this with our families too. They wouldn’t normally read the genre we write, but they will read our stuff. And they might very well tell their non-genre-reading friends too. 🙂
This post makes a lot of sense. I will follow your advice – as soon as I have a book published.
That is waiting too late. That’s like waiting to build the ark after the rain starts falling. Platforms and loyal fans are not created overnight. It takes time. Lack of a platform is why 93% of all published books sell less than 1000 copies. You need to start as soon as possible.
A good example of assumptions is this: my adoptive uncles in Arkansas are farmers who work near sunup to sundown. They’re no nonsense and rough around the edges. I’ve never seen them pick up a book unless it was a farm catalogue or whatever (granted, we only visited them a few weeks in the summers when I was growing up . . .). So, my mom calls me the other day and says a couple of those uncles are asking when my next book will be out, because they sure enjoyed the other one(s) and want to read the rest. I admit I was surprised. Not that they aren’t intelligent etc etc etc -I just didn’t think they’d read my kind of book! If they read at all, I pictured non fiction or gritty novels or ??? I don’t know. It touched me, but it also made me go “hmmmmm,” for it’s not the first time I’ve been surprised by mail from a reader (especially a guy – for my first novel has a danged pink cover *laugh*) who has enjoyed my books.
I friend and follow pretty chaotically. 😀
You are SO right, Kristen! My brother went through a phase where he won’t read anything unless it’s Harry Potter books. On the other hand, I acknowledge that I enjoy reading books but I’m loyal to certain authors. I read other authors but when certain authors got their books published, you bet I’ll be the first in line to get that book at the local bookstore. You could probably categorize me on the non-writer readers when it comes to reading books.
I enjoy reading stories just for the sake of it. I’m not the type who care about the grammar, etc. as long as I like the story (and as long as I understand what the author is trying to say). It’s not so much about how it’s written but how the author tell the story. Which was why I pay attention to my nonwriter friends when they recommend certain stories to me; I check it out at the library as soon as I can (of course, there happens to be a waiting list). Usually, the books they recommend make me laugh and cry a lot.
We should also realize that nonwriters and writers read the books differently. Writers read books to analyze and learn from. Nonwriters read book to entertain themselves–similar to watching a movie. Though I’m a writer, I’d rather be part of the nonwriter readers; I prefer to read a book for the sake of enjoying them.
Excellent points Marilag. I might blog about that.
Thank you for the really thought-provoking post, Kristen. Do you think that some Social Media reach non-readers better than the others? Or does this depend on the genre and the target audience?
I think social media is the only way we are going to reach non-readers. If I am a person who doesn’t typically define myself as a reader, then I won’t BE at a bookstore. I won’t read reviews or author websites or author blogs. Unless something reaches out to me? I will be oblivious. Too many people are all marketing to the same small pool.
Marketing thru social media is an important way to reach non-readers, but it certainly can’t be considered the only way. No?
Don’t you see a trend by many users to get bored with social media? I have many, many inactive friends on Facebook. They used to be active, previously responded to my updates and posts. Now their walls are like ghost towns.
I agree there are many who wouldn’t define themselves as readers, but there are many who are getting fed up with social media and we must find new, creative ways to reach them.
Um….there are FAR more people active on social media than those people who have abandoned their sites, and just because they aren’t active on their site, doesn’t mean that they won’t be influenced still by peers who ARE active. They have friends, family and coworkers who are what is called a positional influencer. Maybe some guy hates Facebook, but his wife loves it or the gal in the cubicle next to him. They talk about a book and that is how word of mouth sparks sales.
Since non-readers aren’t going to go to bookstores, author blogs, book review sites, and they aren’t going to be influenced by traditional marketing like mailers, bookmarks or book trailers, it seems to me that social media is the best bet. If you added the populations of active users of the top three sites, you have the population of the third largest country in the world, bested only by India and China. This number is increasing exponentially. So instead of focusing on a handful of statistical outliers who aren’t using social media–and who likely will not be swayed by ANY traditional marketing tactic–the winning plan it to focus on the billions who will.
Social media is the new way of human communication and highly unlikely to go away. There is an old saying in sales. “Fish where the fish are.” Bookstores are all going belly-up, so marketing in an industry that is getting hammered is probably unwise. The fish are schooling on social media.
Lots of people read. I’d say ‘nearly everybody’, but that might be an excessive generalisation :-).
So, in essence, wherever we go there are readers. So we can go anywhere.
But we’re not looking for readers who are looking for us (well, for any value of ‘us’ :-P). Those readers will take care of themselves. It might be said that we should be looking for the readers who _aren’t_ looking for us, and to a degree that’s true, but I’d rather say ‘we’re looking for readers who don’t know they’re looking for us. Yet.’ And we can try to find them, and we can try to tell them they’ve really looking for us, but I think even that’s wrong to a degree. That is, I’d rather find one of their friends, and convince them. Not only because people believe their friends more easily and more impulsively, but that one friend might tell ten people.
If I’m even close to right, I’d rather impress one person who might never buy me, but will tell ten people who will, than one person who will buy me. And the advantage of Social Marketing is that, if I can start with good Product (and for a writer, as WANA will tell you, the Product is as much the writer as the books, if not more), I can market that Product to people I don’t even know are listening.
Er.. was that any close, Lady Kristen? :-P.
Love your blog.. found it searching for info on spreading the word having just uploaded two fiction books in e-form to my own website annmade.co.uk / books and to amazon. I have set up facebook, twitter and a blog at annfoweraker.com where i have been blogging about ‘publishing my novels and other passions’ This means all the various things I do; belly dance, sand sculpture, cake decorating, poetry, body-boarding, keeping chickens and goats as well as the novel writing, working on the basis that any one of these interest groups may contain the potential readers I seek. However, now I am wondering if I have spread the net too wide, whether I should have concentrated on aspects relating to my novels.
Thank you for a thought-provoking blog
best regards – Ann
Please lose the horrible picture. I almost didn’t read your enlightening article simply because it turned me off big time. However, that said, I’m glad I did. You made some very good points and helped me to understand one more reason why I have sold only twenty-four copies of a book that gets positive feedback from the few who do bother to pick it up.
I have discovered, probably like millions of other writers, that marketing is far more painful than writing. I heard all this stuff before, but was still blindsided by reality when the book came out and just lay there. In spite of all the talk about what a struggle it will be, deep down, we still cling to the fantasy that, once published, we will have become a success.
One personal problem for me is that my potential market is probably narrower than many others. My book ‘Once Proud Nation’ is aimed at people who are upset by the direction our country is going, people who pace the floor over dissolving freedom. It narrows even more because it deals with a desperate struggle results in full blown war. (Not everybody’s cup of tea.)
I will check back for updated articles…I can use all the help I can get. Oh, and if I can figure out how to do it, I will link your site to FreedomWalker Publishing. (New at this stuff.)