It’s a Great Big Scary World Out There (aka Marketing: How to Sell Your Book)

Marketing is a form of communication between you and your customers with the goal of selling your product or service to them. Communicating the value of your product or service is a key aspect of marketing.

Ah, if only this were an actual ‘how to’ guide to selling your work of prose be it fiction or non-fiction, satire, drawings, clippings of your underwater basket weaving with cleaver haiku captions but, it isn’t. Well, then what is this?

This, my friends, is a truism. Is that even a word? Yes, apparently it is, because it did not get caught by the dreaded red squiggle monster. The truism in all of this is that most people look at that word highlighted in bold and go ‘Uhm….?’. They think of salesmen trying to pitch something that’s rusted, crusted, and falling apart as the next coming or that guy sitting at his/her desk all day long trolling social media like a boss to get the next 100 Tweets or likes or shares or whatever it is they’re after. And, yes, that image to our left is relatively accurate, all things considered.

There is a lot of thought, effort, and energy that goes into marketing a product or brand. It doesn’t really matter what it is – be it a candy bar, a shoe label, or the newest best seller – it all comes down to visibility. In the new age of tech and social media, most of that visibility comes from the internet. You see it as an advert on Facebook or a viral vine on Instagram (yeah, I know I’m probably mixing them all up; I’m not ‘hip’ and I’m alright with it). Something catches your eye that makes you stop for a second look or click that link or decide ‘I need to have that thing in my life’.

Sounds easy, right? Throw up a few cool pictures, make a Facebook page, Tweet a few times, maybe build a website, and BAM! instant seller, yeah?

Well, no, not as such. It’s not just about what you’re saying it’s about who you’re saying it to. The content of your book matters. You’re not gonna try to sell your basket-weaving haiku book to a bunch of folks that want to read DC Comic fanfic til they’re gray; they’d have no real interest in what you’re selling. Maybe if it was Batman doing the basket-weaving but now we’re just getting a little silly. What about cards and fliers, bookmarks or conventions to shout your wares at folks passing by in costume? Those are all viable options too if that is what fits your genre. Maybe it is better to market on LinkedIn or at a University; start small with your local libraries and bookstores and let it grow from there or just throw money at someone to do it for you. It is all a very personal process.

Alright, so, what’s the catch? If it’s so “easy-ish” and personal, why haven’t you sold millions yet?

Well, because. Despite having a relatively ok grasp of what to do, there is still that whole pesky problem of having the time in which to do it. Twitter runs at 500 mph. Facebook has a 3-4 daily post ‘requirement’ if you hope to get any sort of recognition or clout. LinkedIn and Instagram are much the same and don’t get me started on vlogs and podcasts. It is possible (and I am working on it) but it takes a lot of dedication just to your marketing plan in addition to your words and weavings.

So, how do we get there?

Start small. That’s the best ‘how to’ advise I can give right now. Start small. Maybe just one or two social media sites for now with a dedicated day or time that things are done. Maybe you work on your blog once a week and dedicated 20 min a different day to something like Hootsuite to set up your weekly social media posts. Learn by doing, take a free class or read some books from the library on the subject to boost your knowledge pool.

It is a big scary world, but it can be conquered. Promise.

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