Ed: This article originally ran on Lillie Ammann’s wonderful site for writers, A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye on October 14, 2011.
I talk to writers every day who are thinking about publishing their own books. Some have friends who have self-published, so they know it can be done. Or they’ve read the blogs of writers who are doing well in the Kindle store. Or they are just tired of waiting for the agent, the editor, the publisher to get back to them.
Whatever the reason, there’s one objection I hear more than any other from these writers:
“I just want to write, I’m not a salesman.”
And that’s too bad. I think this attitude represents a real misunderstanding on the part of authors. Here’s why.
It’s About Marketing, Not Sales
Think about the difference between marketing and sales.
Book marketing means promoting your book to people who are likely to be interested in it. The main activity of marketing is communicating to these likely purchasers.
Sales, on the other hand, is completely different. It’s the process of making transactions, the exchange of money for books, in this example.
You can’t sell a book to someone who’s not interested in it or who doesn’t want to buy it.
Marketing your book, on the other hand, is something similar to what you are probably doing already when you talk about your book to friends, family, or other writers.
You are communicating the passion you have for your subject, your fascination with your characters, your total involvement in the subjects of your writing.
In its simplest form, that’s what marketing is. Going where people who might be interested in your book hang out and communicating with them about the subject of your book.
It’s not asking people to buy your book, and it’s certainly not trying to “sell” them your book.
It’s like when you start blogging. You don’t want to blog about your book, you want to blog about the subject of your book, its themes, lessons, or news, events, or developments that touch on your subject.
Same with marketing your book. If you communicate your feelings for your subject, if you let people know just why you wrote the book and how it can help people, if you show your enthusiasm and expertise in the area, you are doing some pretty powerful book marketing.
And what author doesn’t want to talk about their book or the subject that moved them to write it?
What I suggest to these authors is that they learn to market their books, with everything that implies. If you can do that well enough, and widely enough, and often enough, the sales part of the equation will take care of itself.
So go out and connect with people. Find the places where people are talking about your subject, whatever it is.
Participating in those conversations will lead you to interesting places and opportunities to tell even more people about you and what makes you tick. That, in itself, will likely interest people in your books.
Congratulations, you are now a marketer.
Photo by Kevin Dooley