However, let’s not overlook one very critical factor. As one marketing guru said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” Don’t let this happen to you!
I’ve read some good marketing books lately. I’ve tried–like all writers these days–to make the change from publisher advertising to the much more do-it-yourself marketing that is required.
The Cart and the Horse
But remember! Writing (plus studying and practicing to write even better) comes first. That’s your horse, and it is most important. Do NOT lose sight of that fact. Marketing is your cart. It won’t go far with a lame horse. [More about that in a moment.] But while you’re learning to write better, you can begin your own marketing if you want to. There are great resources to help you do that.
Helpful books on the new marketing?
- Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is full of practical, hands-on tips for building a platform.
- I also enjoyed Self-Promotion for Introverts: the Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead by Nancy Ancowitz.
- Another one is Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed and the Underconnected by Devora Zack.
Remember from our previous discussion that an introvert gets recharged in solitude and starts to feel drained after being around people too long. It has nothing to do with your social skills. Depending on which study you read, introverts comprise 40-55% of the population.
Put on the Brakes!
With all the concentration these days on building a platform and social networking, it’s easy to overlook one critical factor. It will make you or break you as a writer.
The first 25 pages of Hyatt’s book deals with this issue. It is about creating a compelling product. In our case, that means a book or story or play. As Hyatt says, “There is no sense in wasting your valuable time and resources trying to build a buzz about a ho-hum product…The purpose of marketing is to prime the pump. But if people don’t want to use your product and–more importantly–if they won’t recommend it to their friends, you’re hosed. You can’t spend enough money or be clever enough to overcome a lack of word-of-mouth marketing. It just won’t work.”
To get noticed in today’s over-crowded publishing world, it is rarely okay to just be “good enough.”
Good enough is the kind of writing we do on a tight deadline, writing that we sense isn’t the best we can do, but it’s good enough to meet the requirement. It’s also the kind of writing we do when we get in a hurry to publish. It’s the kind of writing we do when we sense something is “off” somewhere, but we just don’t feel like making the effort to figure out what’s wrong, study and learn how to fix it, and then do one more in-depth revision. We hope no one will notice and we send it off to an agent or publisher because it’s “good enough.”
“Good enough” writing won’t get you very far, and rarely will you be able to break in to publishing and establish a career that way. Hyatt says you have one choice: to produce a “wow” experience for your reader. What’s that?
- Disappointing: the experience did not meet their expectations
- Good: the experience met their expectations
- Wow: the experience exceeded their expectations
The second category–the good category–is what we used to call mid-list authors. They weren’t the J.K. Rowlings of the world, but they had slow, steady sales over a number of years. The mid-list author has largely disappeared from many publishing lists.
That is discouraging to me too, but we need to let that spur us on to better writing instead. If we work hard, study and apply what we learn–and take our time doing it–we can go from being “good enough” writers to excellent writers.
The Bottom Line
Your platform is what generates the necessary word-of-mouth advertising for your book. It gets people talking–and recommending–your book to others. That’s what generates sales. HOWEVER, what people say about your book in all this word-of-mouth advertising has to be good. As Michael Hyatt pointed out, a good platform that creates bad word-of-mouth advertising will just kill a bad or so-so product faster.
So, yes, work on your platform. Choose methods that fit your particular personality. But don’t launch your book too soon–not submitting to an agent or editor, nor self-publishing. Be sure you have a superior book–one that has been rewritten, and critiqued, and rewritten again and again.
You want all that hard work of platform building to pay off in fabulous “you gotta buy this book” word-of-mouth advertising.