Sunday, August 7, 2016

Promote Your Book Like A Politician

Whether you vote for Hillary Clinton (please) or Donald Trump (never), someone else (there really is no one else who can win), or don’t vote at all (not a real option), one thing is clear for those promoting or marketing themselves or a book:  No matter what you say or do, you’re likely to get 40-50% to support you – and another almost similar number not to.

Authors, promoters, and marketers are always looking for a way to sell books.  They mistakenly think a sale is based on how good the book is.  How could it be?  You buy it before you read it.  The key is to come out with a strong message that is so powerful it alienates as many as it lures in. 

Why would someone be willing to automatically cut in half their potential support?  Because by doing so it assures them the support of the half that opposes those who turn away from you.

For instance, many women will support Clinton because she’s a woman.  They want to see the glass ceiling broken.  Many men will support Trump because they want a guy running the country. Sexism runs both ways.  You can’t be both a man or woman, so candidates find they appeal more to one or the other at the sacrifice of the other gender.

But let’s take issues that candidates speak about, and not their natural-born demographic appeal or turn-off.  Take any issue – taxes, abortion, immigration, military, education, jobs – and you’ll see stark differences in the candidates. There isn’t much room for overlap or compromise here. They either agree or disagree on something.  To support a position means those opposite it don’t support you.  Thus, almost half the voters like or dislike you on any particular issue. Then you add them up and see with whom you agree with the majority of the time.  Or, in some cases, you vote based on a single-factor litmus test.  Can’t have a pro-abortion president?  Can’t live with a wall? One issue, vote cast.

So as a book publicist, what can you learn from how human behavior responds to the political process?

You can:

Urge people to buy based on fear. Trump paints a gloomy picture of things and says he’ll step up to save the day.  Position your book as one that solves a problem, because the world is at a tipping point for disaster.

Urge people to buy based on exclusion. Trump blames our ills on Muslims, Hispanics and anyone not like him – white male.  Position your book as one that appeals to a certain segment or demographic – and loudly dismiss all others as potential readers.

You can sell people on hopes and dreams.  Trump acts as if he can just bully others into turning the clock back to the 1950s. He tells us America can be great again.  He speaks – as if our problems arose overnight and that they can be settled by lunchtime.  He paints a portrait of how things should be, but offers no viable solutions or details of how to create the nation he envisions.

You can sell people on solutions that sound ideal but can’t really be implemented. Trump acts as if he will kill off ISIS, rid the country of illegal immigrants, and trash all treaties and trade deals. Are all of these things possible, legal, fundable or good?  Doesn’t matter, he appeals to our frustrations and desire to simplify complex problems.

You can sell people on a negative as a positive, such as being an outsider. Trump appeals to people who want a non-politician in office, but the truth is the office makes one a politician.  Besides, to be an outsider truly means what he is – someone with zero government experience.  Do you want some novice learning as he goes while the world wages wars?

A significant chunk of the nation has bought into any and all of the above, due to ignorance, frustration, desire, and hatred.  They, for whatever reason, dislike the other candidate more than Trump.  Hopefully the majority won’t go with Trump, but you can see how one can put together even the ugliest message and still get solid support. As a book promoter, you need to do the same.

I don’t suggest that authors lie or be impolite, ala Trump, but I do believe they should be willing to:

1.      Pick a side and risk alienating the other half. Not everyone is going to buy your book, but if you can inspire even 1% of 1%, of the country to wildly support you and buy your book, you’ll sell more than 30,000 copies.

2.      Develop a strong author persona, as if a character or mascot.  Don’t act in some general, timid, or neutral way. Be an extremist.  Don’t look to negotiate or settle – just be all or nothing.  If your book's about parenting, go all-in on your strategies and advice.  You want to say kids should be spanked?  Double down on it. You want to say parents should be fine with talking to kids about drugs at age 10?  Go all the way and say six is the right age for such a talk.

3.      Be controversial, outrageous, and borderline ridiculous. There’s a curiosity factor that drives people to watch a car wreck.  That curiosity will drive people to buy books from those who scream loudly.  Don’t be shy.

4.      Pick a public fight and demonize others.  Wrestlers and boxers hype their matches this way.  Politicians pick one another apart.  As an author, find someone or some entity to become the bull’s eye of your feverish passion and extreme views.  Take them on relentlessly. 

5.      Take the show on the road.  Despite the reach of digital media and social media, nothing beats personal appearances and local barnstorming. All of the politicians pursue geographic tours and so should you.

Okay, so I trashed Trump and the ignorance of the American people. I also showed you how to sell your book.  I’m fine with alienating potential readers because as I mentioned, whatever I say will turn on or off at least 40% of the people either way.  And that’s okay, because if I can win over more readers in the long run, I’ll be sitting pretty.  

Our politicians understand this strategy and so should you.

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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. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016.

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