The Most Important Question to Answer In Your Marketing Plan

Monday, September 24, 2018
Most authors will complain about marketing at some point in their careers because book marketing is like an impossible jigsaw puzzle, where the pieces are tiny, have images printed on both sides, and are the same color. So yeah, it's difficult. Marketing can feel never-ending is. But when you manage to fit the pieces together. your reward is readers finding your books; and hopefully, some cash lining your pockets. (Don't forget: the definition of a successful author is not what type of starving artist you are. It's readers loving your books while you have enough money to support your household!) 

So the question becomes: how do I solve my marketing puzzle? As I prepare for the marketing class I'm leading for WOW!, I'm interviewing authors and marketing experts for the webinars, and I can't believe how much I'm learning in the process. The first interview is with Sarah Whitney because her day job is in the marketing department of a very successful and huge law firm, and she is one smart cookie. I asked her a lot of questions, and she shared a lot of knowledge for the class. However, the one thing I want to share with you today is one of the most important things she said.

I asked her: where should authors start with their marketing plan? I expected the good, typical answer of: know your audience and where they hang out and find their books (which you do need to know!). But the answer she gave was so spot on and exactly how an advertiser/marketer thinks. She said:

What is the problem your product (book) is solving for your audience? 

If you write self-help or nonfiction, the answer to this question is pretty easy. But if you write fiction, the answer takes a bit more thinking, a bit more time to figure out, to puzzle over. But the answer's crucial to your marketing strategy.

Let's pretend you're a romance novelist (unless you are one, then you don't have to pretend!). One problem your book solves for the reader is where to spend money and time on entertainment. Everyone wants to be entertained and have time to relax. So your romance novel provides your reader with the solution to the problem of: What do I do in my free time and/or with this extra money I have?

The second problem your book may solve is providing readers with some kind of universal lesson about love and relationships. This depends more on the themes that are in your book; but most likely, romance readers love to devour these books because they give them hope for how life can be when love is found and kept.

Whatever you write and whatever you have to market--you should be thinking like a marketing expert when devising your plan, and then target your plan toward how your book solves problems for your reader. This week, look at ads you see (watch commercials, listen to radio ads, flip through a magazine) and pay attention to how the ads are crafted. Most ads do not blatantly state: "You have THIS BIG PROBLEM and here's how my product solves it." But marketing departments create the ad, so that the product is the solution to this puzzle in the consumer's life. 

It's never too early to create your marketing plan and build your platform--even before you've published your first book. That's definitely true. But wherever you are in your publishing journey, it's also never too late to think like a marketer and create a plan that's full of successful steps, which connect readers with your books. Once you find the pieces of your marketing puzzle and fit them together, you'll see your readership grow while you continue to write great books.

Margo is teaching Individualized Marketing for Authors and Writing Industry Professionals, starting this Wednesday, September 26. There's still time to register! To find out more about Margo, check out her website:  .


Marcia Peterson said...

Thanks for sharing this useful information, Margo! I can see how your class will really help people market their writing.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sarah's interview is fantastic! I agree with her premise of problem solving. I often pick memoirs based on my need to know how to solve something in my own life or see how someone is coping with a similar situation to my own. I've talked to publicists who work at Big 5 publishers and they say it's the #1 reason people buy memoirs. Then, if the memoir takes off and becomes a bestseller, then it's about wanting to be a part of your tribe. Which could also be considered a want to be in tune with a certain group, and how are you going to do that? Read what they're reading. Anyway, great post! Lots to consider. :)

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Ang and Marcia. I am actually starting to get excited about MARKETING! How can it be? :) I totally agree about memoirs. I've read other people's because they had similar lives to mine.

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