"Marketing isn't about what YOU do, it's about what THEY get."
- Robert Middleton
Recently, I've noticed a recurring theme among new book authors. Many authors don't feel comfortable marketing their books. When I spoke with my wife Susie about my ideas for this article, she pointed out that it is always easier to help other people market their offerings than it is to market your own. Yet even seasoned marketing veterans sometimes balk when it comes time to market their own books. Why is that?
People hate marketing for a number of reasons, but most of them boil down to some flavor of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of being perceived as something akin to a used car salesman. Most of these fears stem from the idea that marketing is about trying to sell something to someone who isn't interested. But that's wrong. Marketing isn't about selling; it's about finding the people who would benefit from what you offer.
Ask yourself these three questions about your book and its relationship to your target audience:
- Does your book provide something of value to your reader that is worth more than the price of the book?
- Do you have readers who are glad that they read your book?
- Do you believe that there are more people who would benefit from reading your book?
Many of you will read those questions and answer with something like "Of course, why else would I have written the book in the first place?" Well, good. That is exactly how you should feel. (If you answered "no" to any of the questions, you should seriously reconsider the content of your book or look for a different target market.)
Answering "yes" to the questions shows you that you believe in the book and its ability to help people. When that is true, you don't need to "sell" anything to anyone. You are just trying to find the people who would benefit from reading your book and let them know it exists.
The art of book marketing (any marketing, really) is getting the right words about what you offer to the right people. If you can clearly communicate the value of what you offer, people who are interested will buy. Robert Middleton, one of my favorite marketing gurus, refers to this concept as communicating the "Ultimate Outcome." The information in your book is a means to an end. That end result is what your prospects are interested in achieving.
I'd challenge you to take your perception of marketing a step further. Think about your audience. These are people who have an interest in the same things you do. (Why else would they read your book?) These are people who will benefit from their relationship with you through your book. What do you call people like that? Friends. Or, as Seth Godin might put it, these people are all members of your "tribe."
So, back to my question at the beginning of this article, why do even seasoned marketing veterans balk at marketing their own books? I think you can see now that the answer is because a book is personal. Your book is an extension of your beliefs and thoughts. You are afraid that if people reject your book, they are rejecting you.
Not everyone is going to get something worthwhile out of your book. That's okay; they were never really part of your audience anyway. Not everyone is going to like your writing. That's okay; they would never really have appreciated your message anyway. Marketing a book isn't scary if you think of it as telling potential new friends about a great new book that can help them. If you wrote a good book, it deserves to be shared.
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