Some authors would call marketing an adventure.
Yet other authors would call marketing a long, torturous, mosquito-ridden trek full of disease, peril, and snakes. In some ways finding buyers for your books is easier than exploring the Amazonian jungle.
No matter what you think about selling your book, if you are going to have readers, make any kind of money, you’re going to have the face the jungle of marketing.
1. Surviving in the jungle is a day to day, moment by moment process, not a one-time thing you do.
Marketing is the same way. To succeed, you need to look at the long-term for yourself as an author. You need to slowly build relationships, one reader at a time. You need to be patient because the only way to have a big readership ten years from now is to work on it as much as you can now. If you want to play an interactive game about exploring the jungle, click here!
2. As you bushwhack through the jungle, you get stronger.
The marketing and publicity I do next week, next month, or next year is easier because I worked at it today. Don’t know where to start? Contact your local library and tell them that you’re an author. They may want to stock your book, hold an event or keep you in mind for future events. Then, contact local bookstores, consignment shops, senior centers, your local newspaper, local access television, anything that gets your name out there, helps you engage with the public and may lead to sales. As you get used to talking about yourself, more opportunities will present themselves, you’ll make more connections and marketing won’t be so awful.
3. You need to be prepared for anything.
A jungle explorer has a kit, pack, malaria tablets, ways to find water and probably something sharp to kill dangerous critters. Book marketers should carry business cards and their books with them. They should be prepared for the “what do you do” question. Marketers should have a 30-second pitch ready. Also, they should have a calendar to schedule an event. They shouldn’t shrink when people ask anything, because they may just sell a book. I’ve sold several books because I was prepared, confident and was willing to make a sale right there. You may also find the wisdom of Guns and Roses helpful in this situation too.
4. The trails may not be trustworthy.
In marketing, it’s a good idea to study what’s effective for others, but in reality, you have to find your own way. Your book is unique to the world so it will have its own marketing journey. What works for some may not work for you. But that doesn’t mean you quit, it just means you sharpen your machete and keep hacking. While you read over your notes, listen to these rainforest sounds!
5. If you’re headed in the wrong direction, you could find yourself in trouble.
I have absolutely no desire to get lost in a forest, Amazonian or otherwise. I also have no desire to waste time and resources on marketing that won’t yield a return. This is the tricky part. We’re the only ones who decide what works and what doesn’t. Marketing plans are just that: plans. They need to be flexible. You need to be willing to forget the latest social media trend and try a local craft fair if you think you need to. Everyone who successfully markets have to try and keep trying until something finally works. This guy camped for two nights in the rainforest and took a video of it!
Finally, if you still haven’t caught the metaphor, marketing is like a neophyte jungle explorer with a coffee-stained map in one hand and a machete in the other, who hacks and trudges through the rainforest hoping not to be eaten alive by local fauna.
If you’ve tried to sell a book, you know this is true.
This is what marketing is: you’re on the hunt for contacts, relationships, attention, and sales. You’re looking for the perfect opportunity just like an etymologist is looking for rare species. Like a jungle explorer, you’ve learned the lingo, you’ve trod carefully and you know the shadows around can smell your fear. And you wonder sometimes if you’ll succeed, get malaria or get lost.
To sum up: It IS a jungle out there, but with the right tools, the right attitude and perseverance, you can survive marketing your book.
Next week? Five MORE Ways Marketing Your Books Is Like Exploring A Jungle.