Monday, October 21, 2013

Win Readers By Alienating Others

How come popular politicians never win 100% of the votes cast? Why don’t few of them ever get much more than a simple majority of votes? Because they play to their strengths and appeal, in rhetoric and deed, to a constituency that they believe adds up to enough votes to win. They don’t need,-nor expect, everyone to like and vote for them. Authors and publishers need to follow suit in order to win over readers.

To find book-buying readers you’ll need to be willing to ignore -- even alienate -- 99% of the country. Now, you might be saying you can’t do such a thing. But it’s true. Do the math.

There are some 200 million American adults. If a successful book sells even a million copies, it means 199 million did not buy it -- that’s a success ratio of one-half of one percent.

But let’s break this down into more realistic numbers. As a debut author you may hope to sell five to ten thousand copies or even 20 to 30,000 if things go really well. Let’s say the advertising, marketing, publicity, and social media that you undertake reaches a total of 10 million people. Just a random number. You’ll need to win over only a quarter of a percent to sell 25,000 copies.

Your best bet may be to deliver a hardcore message that appeals to the extremes or to clearly defined groups that are mobilized to buy what you’re selling, rather than appealing to the masses, target a niche.

Even in the case of selling to “everyone,” at least allow yourself to dismiss half of them. For instance, if you write about love, trash men in order to win over women. If you write about politics, pick a side. If you write about fashion, pick a style or era.

By aligning with one group you may end up dismissing all other groups, but if the group you support is big enough, passionate enough, and wealthy enough to buy your book then just go straight to them and don’t worry about who isn’t buying your book.

Being neutral, polite, indifferent, or non-partisan doesn’t work when promoting your book. No book or story is for everyone, not even the Bible, so don’t look to win everybody over. So does playing to a singular group mean you have to intentionally dismiss another?

Well, first play up the group you want to impress. Win them over by appealing to their wants and needs. Speak their language and reference things that surely will resonate with them. You don’t have to trash another to build yourself up, but sometimes that is necessary. Look at sports. Here in New York, you either root for the Mets or the Yankees. And when you root for one, it’s obligatory to root against the other.

Think of all this as if you were getting dressed for a party. You want to stick out and have all eyes on you. If you dress conservatively you won’t get much attention. You’ll need to look at everything -- hair, dress, shoes, accessories, make-up, etc. Every part of your body real estate is a point of sale. Showing cleavage -- or not? Revealing legs -- or not? Heavy on red lipstick or eye-liner --or not? Three- inch heels or five? Ladies, you know what I’m saying.

Play to your strengths and risk -- even expedite -- turning off those who won’t buy your book. Do everything possible to appeal to a group’s heart and soul and seek to get it to open its wallet for you.

Book publicity doesn’t need to be polite and all-inclusive. Sometimes you need to be willing to start a fight, dismiss a view point, or alienate others so that you can win over enough readers to make you an outright success.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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