The Secret to Selling Books Part I–Let's Get Sticky
Two weeks ago, I introduced you guys to the WANA Theory of Book Economics and explained why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Books are not like cups of coffee or breakfast cereal, and thus they require a different approach. Writers are unique as well. Since we are responsible for producing the product, we need a social media approach that leaves time to write great books. That was the first lesson to connecting to potential readers. We needed to know HOW to connect, WHAT kind of message to send and WHY.
We also needed to understand the critical element that could make a book a mega success. What was this key variable? We had to mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, that group of people who would not normally define themselves as readers. Harry Potter, The DaVinci Code, Tuesdays with Morrie, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Help all tapped into groups of people who normally didn’t read for pleasure. But, once some key non-readers read these books, word of mouth sparked like wildfire and made literary history.
Then, last week we discussed the typical non-reader. There is a misconception that non-readers don’t read. They DO read, they just happen to be highly selective. The benefit, however, is that once one of these guys becomes a fan? He is the most loyal, devoted fan any writer can have. Often this guy is the best salesman a writer can have, too. He is the flint that creates the spark that can start the fire.
Ah, but here comes the problem. Too many writers are getting on social media and hanging out with each other and marketing to each other. It is an over-saturated market full of people who can only buy so many books. Also, since all of us LOVE books, we might not be the best people for starting that wildfire of word of mouth that can push the non-reader population past the tipping point.
Many of you are chomping at the bit. Kristen, for the love of all that is holy, where can we find the magic well of readers?!!!
I would love to give a website. Go to www.loyalbookfans.com . Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Or a formula for success. A + B = Wild Success.
But, unfortunately there is no specific formula and no guarantee….BUT that doesn’t mean that we can’t change some behaviors that will improve our odds.
I did say it was simple to connect and mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, and it is. Simple, however, is not necessarily easy. There are actually a number of components we need to understand, but today we are only going to focus on one, because it is the most important. If we cannot do this, then nothing else matters.
We need to get sticky.
In The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, Gladwell defines The Stickiness Factor in the following way:
The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a difference in how much of an impact it makes.
The Stickiness Factor not only applies to our social media message, it applies to who we are as writer personalities. It also applies to our books. Nailing what I will call The Sticky Author Triumvirate is key to publishing success. We need to get sticky on all three to have the best odds of reaching the tipping point.
Let’s take a look at The Sticky Author Triumvirate:
Get Sticky with Social Media Messages–One of the reasons that traditional marketing doesn’t work when it comes to books is because the messages are not sticky. In fact, we are so blitzed with marketing messages in modern society that most static marketing messages become white noise and invisible. Thus, why blitzing about our book non-stop on ten different sites is almost a total waster of time is that the message is rarely seen. Auto-tweets are ignored and are what marketing experts call clutter.
Additionally, it is not enough to have a million people “see” a message/pitch. There has to be a compulsion to SEE then ACT. If a zillion people see my commercial for car insurance, but none of them ever change policies, then the campaign is a failure. It’s a big waste of effort, time and money.
What can make people care? Care about them first. Just talking to people can go a long way to making a sale. People buy from who they know and who they LIKE. Stand apart from all the takers and learn to give.
Sit and write out a hundred activities, shows, channels you enjoy. Yes, most of us love writing, but we love other things too. We need to extend ourselves and simply start talking to people. We have to learn to be unselfish. Stop demanding that others connect with us via OUR interests–books, craft, writing–and take initiative. We need to find the common ground and extend ourselves and connect where the potential READER feels comfortable.
Surely you have friends, family or coworkers on Facebook who are not writers. Who are they talking to? Who are their friends? Start poaching (befriending) normal people and talk to them. If you meet a pet lover on Twitter who works as an engineer and he is nice? Look at who his friends are and extend yourself. Hey, I am a pal of Jim’s. Thought I would say hello. (DO NOT pitch to them, just talk and be cool).
Just once a day make it a point to add non-writers who are active on social media to your network. Pay attention to them and start a dialogue. Be genuine and positive, and that will be STICKY. People crave attention and positive energy.
Next week we will talk more about why this is critical and how to use this tactic to reach the tipping point. Not all conversations have equal weight. But in the meantime? Let’s get sticky!
We Need to Be Sticky Writer Personalities–The Stickiness Factor applies to who we are as writer personalities. Chit-chat on social media is actually very valuable. People who repost, compliment, question, serve and are positive are MEMORABLE. We stick. People like us. When they think “writer” we become the first person they think about.
This is one of the reasons that it is beneficial to get out of the comfort zone and talk in other circles. As long as we are all hanging out with other writers we blend into the din. But, if we start talking to other people who love sports, parenting, knitting, the military, politics, animals, horses, celebrities, then we are now injecting ourselves into groups that are not comprised of people just like us. We stand out so we are a bit more “sticky.”
Pick a favorite channel on cable TV, a favorite show, or a video game, and I guarantee there is a Twitter # for it. Start talking to people who love #Lost or #AI, #Glee, #ESPN, #Oprah, #Ellen, #Halo #GoW. Profile your potential reader. What does she do with her day? Maybe she is a #teacher or she plays #WOW. Get creative and get out of that comfort zone.
Sure you can still hang out with writers, but we are your peers, not substitute for a fan base. To be sticky, we need to stick out.
Go to the websites of your favorite channels and shows and find their Twitter # and then make a column for it. Chat with people. I have columns for #GoW (Gears of War) ,#MW (Modern Warfare), #military because I am also an avid gamer and I am military. LOTS of great people in these groups.
We can use blogging to super increase this Sticky Factor. How? First, stop blogging about the same topics as every other writer. Blogging about writing is great, but not necessarily memorable. There are better things to blog about that can make you stick like Super Glue. Author blogs, written properly, are a FANTASTIC way to increase our Sticky Factor exponentially.
If you want to learn to get sticky with your blog, I highly recommend taking my Blogging for Author Brand Workshop. It’s only $40 and TWO months long (one month lessons and one month launch) and it is from the comfort of your home. There are tools and tactics that I am only sharing in my workshops and that I am saving for my next book, so this is a cool opportunity to get lessons I won’t be teaching on the blog.
Finally, We Need to Write Sticky Books–At the end of the day, THIS is why I teach social media for writers. We need to have time to write great books. Great books are STICKY. Sure, if I have a popular blog and a good social media presence I will probably sell some books. But, the only way my book can break past that initial layer of contact is to write a sticky book. Turn politeness into PASSION.
It is not enough for someone to buy our book. They must also love it so much that they can’t wait to tell someone, recommend our book or even buy a gift copy for a pal. THIS is how word of mouth wildfires get started. We will talk more about this next week and I hope you pick up a copy of The Tipping Point. It’s a fun read and highly relevant to all authors serious about creating a long-term fan base.
What are some things that make authors on social media memorable to you? What makes you want to share a message? What turns you off? 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.
Mash-Up of Awesomeness
My NEW favorite blog, Penelope Trunk’s Blog Blog Under Your Real Name and Ignore the Harassment LOVE THIS POST. Read THIS blog. “Awesome-sauce” as the brilliant Chuck Wendig would say.
Kait Nolan’s Can Cinderella Save Herself?
This is another gem (well they are all gems but this one is particularly shiny) Terrell Mim’s Living in the Dash. I cannot tell you how important it is that every one of you read this blog.
Why Your Blog’s “About” Page Matters by Joel Frielander
Are You Keeping Yourself on a Short Leash? Great post about getting outside of the comfort zone by Kerry Meacham
What Do I Look Like, a Protag? Great advice about how to describe our protag without being ham-fisted and obvious.
The Changing Landscape of Publishing for Writers by NYTBSA Bob Mayer
Playing to Your Strengths by Jenny Hansen
Behold the Power of a Nap by Jennifer Hale
The Great Back-Story Debate by the amazing writing teacher James Scott Bell
How I Do It: Ease Into Responsibility by Jody Hedlund
Three Keys to Marketing in the Current Fiction Environment by Michael Hyatt
Three Things that Come First before You Tackle Social Media by the brilliant WD contributing editor Jane Friedman over at the awesome writer resource Writer Unboxed
Is Your Writing Group Helping or Hurting Your Career? by Steenah Holmes
You are Not Tolstoy or Dickens by Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner
How to Get Your Blog Post on Google’s 1st Page by Keli Gwyn
The Anti-Procrastination Diet by Roni Loren
How Much Time Do We Really Need to Write? by Natalia Sylvester
The Must-Have Urban Redneck Belt by Natalie Hartford
Planking–Not Just for Pirates Anymore by Piper Bayard
Lili Tufel’s Top Ten Signs You’re Married to an Author
My Dirty Little Secret by Tameri Etherton
Fun and Nerdy Fact Blogs
Who Were the Celts? by Kate Wood