One of The Least Favorite Most Important Jobs for Writers

By David E. Sharp

I have no passion for marketing. Naturally, at a recent writing conference I attended, sessions on marketing were at the top of my list. I learned about marketing through algorithms, marketing via the website, marketing at live events, and marketing through subliminal messaging.

I learned marketing is a popular topic for writers. But the most shocking thing I learned was that marketing might be easier than you think… and it can even be fun.

Like you, I had my share of doubts. It still seems too good to be true. My early marketing attempts went something like this:

Potential Book Buyer (PBB)- I heard you wrote a book.

Me- If the rumors are true.

PBB- Is it any good?

Me- It isn’t horrible.

PBB- But you wouldn’t say it’s good?

Me- It might be good. Some people think it’s good.

PBB- Do those people have good taste in books?

Me- It isn’t horrible.

Don’t you want to drop everything right now and purchase my book? Whatever the sales mastery gene is, I do not have it. The truth is, I love my writing projects. I write the stories I want to read, and I have spent hours with them. I would not spend all that time on a project I did not feel passionate about.

Yet, whenever I felt an expectation to talk it up to a potential buyer, I could not bring myself to do it. How can this ever be fun? It can be. And you can do it.

The Basics

A solid elevator pitch can do good in day-to-day conversational marketing. It’s not pushy, you don’t need the sales gene, and it comes up naturally in conversation. Anyone who learns you have written a book is bound to ask, “What is it about?” Your listeners literally ask you to market to them. Maybe they’re not thinking about it that way, but what difference does that make?

If they find your pitch enticing, you may have a new reader on your hands. I have gotten more mileage out of my elevator pitch than some cars I’ve owned.

Your comp titles are also a huge help. Significant comparisons give potential readers a clear idea of what sort of writing you do while drawing similarities to books they might love. This is a win for you and your John Grisham meets Harry Potter magical courtroom thriller! Not everyone will be into it, but the right readers will. And getting your book in the right hands is what marketing is all about.

The Tech Stuff

I am grateful to have a publisher who is savvy about Amazon algorithms. But you don’t have to be a computer wiz to know that good reviews are a big help. How do you get them? You can actually request them. Friends and family are a good start. You can offer free copies in return for an honest review. And you can seek out reviews by submitting your manuscript to websites designed for this sort of thing.

If your book is on Amazon, create an Amazon author page. This is especially important as you develop a body of work and people want a centralized place they can find your other writings. The foremost advice I received at the NCW conference was to get off my lazy duff and launch my author’s website. I did, and you can see it.

The Fun Stuff

I had a recent opportunity to appear as a guest on the Indie Writer podcast. I read some short stories and talked about my misadventures in humor writing with Jacqui Castle. It was crazy fun and not at all terrifying. Let me quell your fears if appearing on a podcast makes you nervous. You have a casual conversation with a few other people about a topic you love.

Any Zoom meeting you have experienced in the last two years is far more complex. The conversation gets recorded, and before an audience ever comes into play, the editors make you sound amazing! A solid win, and it feels like cheating to consider this marketing.

I also had a great time at the recent NCW Book Bazaar. Sure, I sold and signed books. I rattled off my elevator pitch so many times even the wallpaper had it memorized. But mostly, I hung out with writers, read random passages from the books surrounding me, and even got to recite my poem, An Owed to Library Fines.

Did it feel like goofing off when I was supposed to sell books? It did! And that was the best part. But the more fun we had, the more passersby had to come to see what the fuss was about. Not only was marketing fun, but the fun was also marketing!

I just blew your mind, right?

How to Get Book Reviews Without Begging.

Marketing Advice for Writers

Nail Your Elevator Pitch

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