During the past few weeks I have read blog posts and heard stories that authors in general seem to hate, loathe, despise, or-any other-verb-that-depicts-extreme-dislike book marketing. First I’d like to explore the why and then what we can do to make it a little bit better to handle. Authors go as far as “will not, under any circumstances, market my book, and you can’t make me” and “marketing is for businesses, not authors, so why should I care?” That may be funny and everything, but that is a serious setback when you are responsible for it!
Why DO authors hate it?
Well, I guess we can’t just limit it to just authors. I think a lot of people in general hate it. People learn to hate it early on. I was no different. In addition to hating it, I used to find it terrifying.
Here are a few thoughts about why I think we have learned to hate marketing:
- It’s a have-to. Everybody hates things they have to do when they hate doing it. Example: cleaning the toilet
- Most people have to “crash course” learn it and experiences are usually negative
- The business world in general has made us hate it from most tactics: door-to-door, telemarketing, used car salesmen
- School fundraisers make you hate marketing (at least for me)
- Experiences in marketing as a profession and the ways businesses handle it and public response thereof (usually negative on both ends)
- The pressure felt when marketing. That pressure feels like an anaconda around your chest or an elephant has its foot on you and pressing down
From my personal experience I learned to hate it back in elementary school thanks to school fundraisers where I had to sell candy and wrapping paper. It was always nice stuff, but expensive. I had to go around and bug family, friends, and neighbors to buy this stuff. To add insult to injury they always had a contest and all the cool prizes were out of reach. There was no way I could sell $500 to get that laser gun. Always the rich kids would get them. So then came the hatred of marketing as a result of frustration. It’s too hard. You have to be popular to succeed at it. The pressure wasn’t fun.
Growing up I observed how my parents reacted to sales calls or when someone came to the door trying to sell stuff. Yes we have them out here in the middle of nowhere, but they come much less often. My parents would try to be nice and keep the dog from biting them, but it was still annoying. They would talk about the car salesmen a lot the few times we bought cars in my life.
So, I associated marketing as bugging people to buy stuff, and probably something they don’t need. I am also shy and introverted. Introverts use energy when they approach another person. Bugging people is a waste of time and energy. Marketing is unwelcome in most occasions. You are selling people something they don’t need. I may not have worked a marketing job, but we had to “suggestive sell” when I used to work fast food. It sucked on both ends. The boss would yell at you for not doing it, and some customers would yell or be rude because you’re doing it when you had to do it and humiliate you in front of people–this is a real scenario by the way. After recovering from my humiliation, I became angry, and this made me hate marketing of any kind that much more! Again, the pressure was terrible.
Marketing is also typically viewed as “non creative”, unfun grunt work. Why does anyone want to do that? Couple that with the former paragraph. In summary, the whole shebang sucks!
After some amount of time and thought after having to learn how to market, I had to change my way of thinking and do some experimentation. It not only be came a have-to; it became a matter of life and death for my author career and a fight for survival. I had a strong will to live. I had to come up with something or die! It turns out that you can be creative in marketing and have fun! I had to learn this on the fly and was forced to do so because of an extreme situation. Extreme situations can make you rethink your stratagem and change your way of thinking!
I did some thinking of how to make it work for me because of the situation I was in. I am not the extroverted “go-getter” type, so I developed my own system. I turned marketing into “fishing trips”. I cast my stuff out and let the bait work. I only talk to people who are interested and ask questions (on and offline). I make relationships first. I experiment and test different kinds of bait. I am active in activities, but I am passive in my approach.
You can market without bugging people. You can be creative. Do fun activities. Change your way of thinking. From a post I had seen, changing the “selling something they don’t need” into “telling them about something they don’t know about.” They’ll let you know if they are interested or not.
How can someone decide if they want it or not when they don’t even know that it exists? That’s the mindset authors need to get to–that’s where I am. You don’t have to hard-sell or get all used-car-salesman-ninja on people. I don’t. That’s what turns me off as a buyer, so I don’t do it.
Put two and two together. Find creative and fun ways to tell people about the thing you have they don’t know exists. Isn’t that better than to hard-sell/bug/hit-up on people about something they don’t need?
And, now I have written a book on marketing. Imagine that! Not only that I seemed to have broken the mold as far as I can tell since it’s not solely centered around business–how about survival skills–yeah the ones you need to know if you get stranded in the middle of nowhere. I talk about business a little bit only to embrace concepts that authors normally ignore and why it would help them.
Likening book marketing to outdoor stuff like fishing and survival skills is my recipe–I have others but they’ll be different posts on Backwoodsauthor.com, so I can’t tell you :P. Find yours! How could you liken marketing to your favorite hobby? Do you sell stuff you produce from your hobby? How do you do that? What challenges does your hobby bring and how do you overcome them? Apply that to marketing. That’s what I have done essentially!
Got questions, comments, or stories? Love for you to share!