Matthew Bayan is a traditionally published and self-published author. His background is in sales and marketing. He had some really
good advice for us newbie authors who need to learn this very important aspect to publishing a book. First, Matt explained the difference between sales and marketing. There is a difference!
Sales is information that you know about: someone hands you money (every author’s dream) and you hand them your book. You know where that book is going, it is going to that customer.
Marketing is information that you send out, but you have no idea what happens to it. It is necessary, you must do it, but where it goes you don’t know. Matt used the analogy of fishing: bait the hook, cast the line, wait and see what happens.
Even before you put one word on paper, Matt suggests you develop a marketing plan. If it is fiction,know your genre. If it is nonfiction, you need to clearly define what it is you want to say, who is your audience, and what are you providing. For example, when you walk into a book store (they do still exist!) look around, where on the shelves does your book go? You need to know this for your marketing plan to work. Keep it simple, don’t mix your genres, don’t re-invent the wheel, no revolutionary ideas. Writing is a business. Remember that word: business.
When a new author starts out every word is precious to him/her. Nothing must be cut from their great work of art. It’s literature! It’s precious! No editing! This is wrong thinking and it won’t sell books. Even Ernest Hemingway needed to make money to sell his books. He didn’t look at every word as precious, or literature that couldn’t be cut. “Write drunk; edit sober,” were Hemingway’s words. (quote my addition, not Matt’s.)
Next, we learned the Four P’s: or in Matt’s world, Five. They are:
- Product. For a writer the product is books, or articles, their writing. In order to improve the product feedback is necessary. You can do this by joining a critique group. Matt suggested his, High Sierra Writers. Now, of course feedback will probably come last, but depending on the feedback you receive, you can go back and change the product, or quality of the product. This, theoretically improves the sales of said product.
- Price. What is the cost to produce, print, distribute. These are important factors. Take for instance a known author versus an unknown author (me). The marketing plan will have a much bigger budget for the known entity. And if you are self-publishing you will have to foot the bill for all of the above.
- People. These would be agents, publishers, buying public, other writers. There are four sales you will have to make: A.) Query letter to agents. This gives them information about you and determines whether they will take you on as a client. B.) Query letter to publisher (either the agent does this, or you query a press that will take unsolicited queries). This will give the publisher information about you. Your image will convince the publisher to buy your book. C.) Publisher’s catalog. This is produced by the publisher, it comes out every quarter, for example: the spring line of books, summer line, fall line, winter line. This catalog goes to the bookseller’s or bookstores for them to peruse and make their book selections to sell in their stores. D.) Someone in a store or online sees the book, wants it and buys it.
- Place. Where will your book be sold? A bookstore, online, or a non-traditional place? Think outside the box. Matt related the sales technique of one of his friends. This friend wrote a book and in that book the hero rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He thought that people who ride Harley’s would probably be interested in his book, so he went to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle store and asked if they would sell his book there. Genius! Think about it. Where will your book fit in?
- Platform. In the publishing world platform is everything. This is how you help the agent or publisher sell your book. These days sales is teamwork. No one will just do it all for you, as an unknown author, you must help sell your own book. To think otherwise is erroneous. Can you do public speaking? If not, learn. Join Toastmasters or Business Networking International (BNI) or some other business networking group that helps train you to speak publicly.
Think about micro-marketing. This involves T.V. stations, radio stations. Line up interviews. Have a link to your book signing event. This works best on the same day as the interview. You can say, “Hey come on down today (insert time and place) to Grassroots Books (or, whatever bookstore of your choice) and meet the author!” Do these together: interview/book signing.
Matt recommends radio station interviews because they will typically have a longer interview time than television. This means more of a chance to “catch” that listener (remember the fishing analogy?) If you are petrified of public speaking and you just can’t do it, can you talk on the phone? Well, consider an interview by phone. It is super easy, and you can stay in your pajamas. The important thing is to put yourself out there, you just don’t know where you’ll end up.
Matthew Bayan has just released The Firecracker King, available in paperback and e-book format. You can learn more about Matthew Bayan on his website, www.mathewbayan.com
I hope you benefited from Matthew Bayan’s advice on marketing as much as I did. What are your marketing ideas? I would love to hear them, please share!