A Marketing Exercise That is a Must for Your Critique Group

Thursday, August 30, 2018
In the past week, I've had two Editor 911 clients ask me to write marketing materials for them. I had edited the manuscripts for both of them, so I was familiar with their work. One client asked me to rewrite her Amazon book description, back cover material, and bio, so that her Amazon page popped when people found her book by doing a search on the book site. The other client lives in New York City and has an opportunity to present a minute pitch in front of a panel of writing professionals. She was having trouble narrowing her entire novel into a few words pitch that would make it stand out from everyone else's. I love doing copywriting like this, and both of these writers hired me because they were too close to their work to do it themselves.

This led me to the idea that this happens to writers all the time! It happens with query letters and synopsis, which is commonly known and discussed all over the blogosphere. But it also happens with marketing materials--website copy, book cover copy, taglines, pitches, and more. However, many writers are poor, and so they can't hire someone to write this material for them. Also, if the copywriter is not familiar with the writer's work, she might have to charge more than if she was because it would take longer to review the work first before writing the marketing material.

But my thinking cap was still on! (It's been on all day. I'm writing this post after dinner while I'm hoping my 7 year old makes it a few more minutes of entertaining herself, so I can finish my brainstorm...) Who knows our work as well as we do? Who reads our work on a regular basis and offers us feedback? Who loves us and wants us to sell books? Our critique group members! So when one of you finishes a book and is about to write website copy, construct a query letter, or pitch to an agent, why don't the critique group members take 15-20 minutes of the time you meet and write a draft of one of these? Here's how it would work.

Let's say Amelia is self-publishing her self-help book on eating healthy, even though she is a parent of five young, picky eaters. She's ready to set up her Amazon book page, but doesn't know what to put on it. Her critique group of four other writers has been working with her every step of the way. So on Wednesday night, when they meet, instead of taking time to critique something that Amelia wrote, she says:

1. Take out a blank piece of paper or start a new document on your laptop.
2. In 20 minutes, write a book description that will sell my book. (Give a time limit so that this doesn't go on forever).
3. Amelia tells them that a book description must have a headline that catches readers' attention, explains why readers should buy this book, and why Amelia is the perfect author for this book--plus what will change in readers' lives after finishing this book. Amelia has already printed out a couple of bestselling nutrition book descriptions from Amazon and passes them out as examples.
4. She sets a timer and does not just stare at her critique group members. She also tries this exercise.
5. When time is up, they each read their description aloud and give feedback on parts they liked and didn't.
6. Amelia collects all of these; and at home in the next couple of days, she writes her final book description.

As the author of the book we want to promote, we are often too close to see why it is good for readers and why readers need to buy the book. So let your critique group help you with this crucial part of the publication process when you're ready to create your marketing materials--no matter if you're self-publishing, sending out queries, or working on your own website copy.

For more marketing tips and individualized marketing plan help, consider taking Margo's class that starts September 26, Individualized Marketing for Authors and Writing Industry Professionals.   To find out more about Margo, go to her website here

Light bulb photo above by thomasbrightbill on Flickr.com


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--This is a marvelous idea. When the time comes, making those marketing things collaborative would help me out.

Thanks for the suggestion. (By the way, I'm at 32,000 words... and it's all new words at this point.)

Pat Wahler said...

Wonderful idea, Margo!

Aside from the author, who could know the book better?


Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Pat and Sioux. Every once in a while, I have a brainstorm, and Katie even let me get it all typed out before she interrupted me! :)

Sioux: great job with the 32,000 words! I know it is going to be a fantastic book. :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love this idea! I'm also impressed you offer those services. What a godsend for your clients! Plus, I know you and your rates are reasonable. Hiring a copywriter is so expensive. I will definitely keep you in mind when my book is finally finished. :)

I think the critique group idea is such a smart way to collect the best points and compile together in one cohesive description. The power of writers working together is awesome. Thanks for the innovative post!

Margo Dill said...

Well it’s something I’ve just kind of started doing—and I love it, especially if I’m familiar with the work. I was thinking how in my critique group we always help each other with query letters but why couldn’t we take it a step further. So all of this kind of came together in this post. Glad it was helpful!

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