This Time It’s Personal

I’m really beat as I write this. I’m at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley this week. Basically, it’s week-long summer camp for writers only I’m staying in a condo instead of a tent. There’s a lot of wine flowing in the evenings, so the 9:00 start for workshops in the morning comes awful early. I’m getting some feedback on some new work and listening to advice from writers I love like Ann Lamott and Mark Childress. It’s fun, but exhausting! And I had my work critiqued today in workshop so I’m a little bleary-eyed from that. But the good news is that, while the piece needs some work, I’m on the right track. Yay!

But enough of my summer camp exploits. Let’s talk marketing. This is actually something I have a little background in from my former life in high tech. The thing about marketing that I’ve always found to be successful is making it personal.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.29.33 PMWhat do I mean by that. Well, there’s this concept of the acquisition funnel. Let’s think about it in terms of my book. So at the top of the funnel are all the possible readers of my book. Everyone. That’s a huge number of people. This is important to understand. I am only able to get a small number of those people to have an awareness of my book. But those who go to the next section. These are the people who are aware of my book. The next section represents all the people who are not only aware of my book, but want to buy it. The last section is the people who actually do buy it.

OK, so that’s marketing 101: awareness through acquisition. Simple right? Uh, no. As all the other Debs have said, it’s hard to get people’s attention with everything that’s going on out there. There’s a lot of competition for people’s awareness. Honestly, the best way to do that is making a personal connection.

That’s where these wonderful people I’ll refer to as ambassadors come in. These are the people who not only bought your book, they LOVE your book! I’m not talking about people you are related to (though they are very helpful!) or your editor or even your agent. I’m talking about complete strangers who love your book and want to tell people about it. These people are worth their weight in gold. And they are out there. And what they do is they help you move people through the funnel by talking about your book. Ask any author out there. There’s no better marketing that word of mouth.

So listen to what people are saying about your book on social media. Reach out and say “thanks” when someone says something nice about your work. Talk to people on social media. Be open when a book club asks you to visit, even if they all checked the book out from the library. If they love it, they will tell others and those people go through the funnel and buy the book. So focusing some attention on those darling, wonderful, I-don’t-know-what-I’d-do-without-them ambassadors really pays off. And you know I’ll be reaching out to them with Book #2 (fingers-crossed) hits the shelves.

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Shelly is the author of THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING, story of love and books in Silicon Valley. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.

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