Thursday, March 29, 2012

Realistic Book Marketing

How do you stifle your creative impulse when it comes to book marketing?

Writers are often creative people.  They think all the time and see ideas in everything.  They dream, they imagine, they see things in shades, they see possibility and not probability, they can touch their emotions, they can read between the lines, and they can be very sensitive.  But most suck as businesspeople.

Just as many, people for whatever reason, rarely possess beauty and brains; few possess the skill of creative writer and great entrepreneur.  I see it time and time again when talking to authors.  They are terrific writers, but struggle at planning and executing a solid marketing plan.  The main culprit, aside from their lacking time, knowledge, or desire to market their books, is they lack the reality gene.

Their strength to visualize new ideas and whole worlds out of nothing is also a weakness for them to act in accordance with logic and business acumen.  They will dream of how they could get” so and so” to do this, that one “can do that,” and they believe everyone will want their book.  It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.  Now, this isn’t about optimism or pessimism, for you need to be optimistic in your approach to life but it must be tempered by the reality that it takes skill, resources, time, planning—and luck—to succeed in any business venture.  And book marketing is all business, whereas book writing is all creative.

So where do many authors go wrong?

1.      They don’t know what to do to sell books.

2.      They don’t plan ahead so they can execute in time.

3.      They fail to apply resources to marketing or to hire a pro to help.

4.      They only see their greatness and don’t acknowledge weaknesses or drawbacks to their book.

5.      They wrongly assume/believe everyone wants what they have, ignoring the competition, understanding the mindset of consumers, or overvaluing their work.

6.      They don’t have the proper distribution to take advantage of their marketing efforts.

7.      They pursue the wrong market or use the wrong marketing tool.

8.      They lack a bigger picture of how their book fits in to their overall writing or career branding strategy.

9.      They do some things right in regards to marketing, but not enough to make a real dent

10.  They waste marketing opportunities that present themselves in the marketplace.  

The list goes on.  I’m not here to bash authors—I love them.  I just wish many would realize three simple rules:

1.      The vast majority of books won’t sell without a comprehensive but targeted, well-planned, and executed marketing plan.

2.      You more than likely need a marketing professional to help you.  It’s hard to think like a marketer and a writer.

3.      Listen to the advice of those in the know and don’t look to second-guess them.  Some of marketing is a gamble and an experiment -- even the pros fail.  But let them do their thing and you do yours—which is to keep writing.

Above all, be realistic in your marketing approach and leave dreamy creativity to your writing.  

Interview With Award-Winning Journalist Karen Feld

1.      As an award-winning journalist, what do you make of the new publishing landscape? Standards have gone south; it’s often difficult for readers to rely on accuracy and sift through the massive amount of information. Seasoned journalists with an institutional memory are often over-shadowed by less reliable citizen journalists aiming for immediate visibility.

2.      You have written hundreds of articles for major newspapers and magazines, among them: Parade, People, Time, Money, George, Family Circle, Vogue, and USA Weekend. Which topics do you like to write on? Why? I’m curious about people and writing about personalities –both bold-face names and private achievers -- most rewarding: what drives them, what keeps them awake at night and how each has made a difference. I like to discover the little known side of a public figure as well as to uncover the off-beat in trends, travel and the arts.    

3.      What advice do you have for struggling authors? Write, write, write! Stick with it. Seek and accept constructive editorial critique but try not to internalize rejection. Concentrate on being accurate even if you’re not first.

4.      What inspires you to write? My passion for the written word and insatiable curiosity about people. I feel I have a unique story to tell and often an unusual perspective.  

5.      What do you love most about the process of writing? The interactive conversation with my sources and/or subjects. Each story is a learning experience.

6.      What makes for a great writer? A creative approach to the story; knowing your audience so as to capture and hold their interest; and a sense of humor.   

7.      Which skills must a writer possess? Clear organization, keen interviewing and research skills, and the ability to become part of an ongoing conversation.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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