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  • by Matthew Bayan

MARKETING FOR WRITERS 101


Marketing for Writers 101

When most writers use the term “marketing” they really mean “selling.” The two are worlds apart.

What is “selling?” You have a published book and you’re doing a bookstore signing and a potential buyer walks up to you and asks you a question. You give an answer and then say, “Would you like to buy my book?” That’s selling.

Selling is quantifiable. The person either says yes or no. At the end of the session, you know exactly how many books you sold.

To explain simple marketing, let’s take the same bookstore and two weeks before your book signing, you set up posters announcing your event. You have no idea how many of the bookstore patrons see the posters, or how many read them, or how many decide to come to your book signing.

This example is “push” marketing. You’re pushing out information hoping to reach an audience. Advertisements in magazines, blog postings, or Google ads are other forms of push marketing. You have no direct way to measure exact responses to any of these actions. You just push information into the ether and hope for the best.

However, before you start pushing your product, you need to know who might be interested in buying your product, your book. That’s the other side of marketing which rarely seems to be taken into account. It’s called “pull” marketing. All good marketing involves both push and pull.

You might know pull marketing by a different term: market research. With market research you try to find populations who might be inclined to buy your book. With many products, companies take polls, send out surveys, conduct focus groups. You probably can’t afford such activities, but you can use other sources to figure out who would like your book.

Recognize that every book has a niche market. You can’t say, “This book is of interest to everybody.” Get real. It isn’t.

Look at bookstores and libraries. They’re divided into sections: fiction or non-fiction, sci-fi, thrillers, tea-cozy mysteries versus hard-boiled detective. Pick a niche. This is called “fragmenting” the market.” You focus on that segment of the market that is most likely to have interest in your product.

Before you even write a book, you should have a clear idea of what market segment you’re writing it for. Unfortunately, most writers write a book and then start thinking about who would buy it. That’s an uphill argument I don’t want to get into right now.

So, let’s just say you’ve written a book and you want to find an agent. You need a query letter for sure, maybe a blurb, maybe a brief synopsis, maybe a writing sample. I say maybe because different agents have different submission requirements. At this point, the most important action you can take is MARKET RESEARCH. Before you write a query, before you contact anybody, you need to assess your agent market. The universe of agents must be fragmented into those who won’t have any interest in your book versus those who might.

I’ll stop here because I don’t like my blogs to get as long as the Yellow Pages. Next installment, I’ll talk about how to do the market research that will make the most efficient use of your time and effort and which will identify the agents who will give you the best chance to get signed. I’ll show you how push/pull marketing can get you there.


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