Sometimes book marketing sucks. Yep, even I can admit it, and I love marketing.
I mean, how frustrating is it that no matter how well thought out your plan and how much time you put in to execute it, you don’t see the results you hoped for?
You book a promo that has always worked well for you in the past. Or you drop your price, email your list or write an epic blog post or several. And the results are insignificant.
It can be soul destroying. But successful authors have something that drives them to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and revisit the plan.
What is it?
Well, put simply, they know why they’re bothering and what all the effort is for.
Why do you write?
Let me ask you. Why do you market your books? Sure, it’s so you can sell more, but why does that matter? Is it a financial need, a matter of pride or to hit some bestseller list?
Figuring out your ‘why’ matters for two reasons:
- It’s your motivator, the thing that will drive you when the going gets tough.
- Knowing your ‘why’ allows you to align with others who share the same beliefs. These people will become your loyal fans and repeat customers who won’t only consume your books, but will tell everyone they know about you and your books too.
Your ‘why’ is what motivates you
Before you can begin to develop a marketing plan, you need to acknowledge that doing so will require hard work and commitment. To motivate you to do the work, even when you don’t really fancy it or would prefer to spend your time doing something else, you need to know your why.
So many writers resent the time that book marketing takes and I would suggest this is because they haven’t really identified why they are doing it.
Authors often say they would rather spend their time writing and I suspect that’s because they have a stronger why for writing than for book marketing.
But if you only really want to write, why publish? If you only want to publish for a sense of accomplishment and to complete the writing process, why do you care if your books sell or that anyone reads them?
If you do care, you need to start making platform building and book marketing a priority.
And you need to work out why you care.
As part of my Book Marketing Frustrations Survey I asked respondents to share their writing goals for 2018 and then I asked them what it would mean to them to reach that goal - what is their ‘why’?
For many writers, the motivation is at least in part financial:
It would mean that I can contribute more to the household income, and possibly reduce hours at my other job if income is consistent.
I would love to have sales from my books supplement my income so I don't have to worry as much about bills.
It would mean the difference between struggling financially and having enough. It would also mean that I could silence my family's doubts about being a full-time writer.
It would mean my business is a success, it would be part of allowing my husband to quit his soul sucking day job.
Being able to provide my children with a decent lifestyle and better option in life, plus the satisfaction of entertaining more people with my writing
For others, a sense of satisfaction or justification is important:
I would have done something my family said I wasn't able to do
It would be a massive weight off my shoulders. And some sense of satisfaction if it means that the people who've sneered and declined to so much as bend a finger when they could be of so much help eat some crow.
A HUGE amount of satisfaction and lots of: "I told you so!!".
Finally having my book(s) in the "wild" so others can read them.
Satisfaction that the book has reached more hands and eyes.
For some non-fiction authors, their book publishing ‘why’ is about kick-starting or improving lead generation for a business.
Your ‘why’ will support your author platform
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to why you write, publish and sell books and you need never share your why with anyone. But knowing why succeeding as an author matters to you will provide you with a solid foundation on which to build a strong author platform.
Without firm foundations, your platform could collapse under the slightest strain - such as criticism, self-doubt or time off due to ill health or vacation.
When you put yourself out into the world as an author and start to build a fan base, you will face challenges; some will come from outsiders, some will come from within and some life just likes to throw at us once in a while, such as sickness or a family crisis. To stay the course or pick up again after a break you will need strength of mind and a solid strategy for your platform building efforts. Knowing your why will be crucial to keep you focused and moving forward.
Plus, a strong ‘why’ will give you the confidence to say ‘no’ to distractions. That are not going to help you reach your goals.
Leadership expert Simon Sinek is known for popularising the concept of ‘why’ and his Ted Talk on the subject in 2009, ‘How great leaders inspire action’, is the third most watched talk of all time on TED.com, having gathered nearly 35 million views and been transcribed into 45 languages.
I recommend you watch the videa to get a good understanding of what ‘why’ is and why identifying it matters. Sinek is talking largely about business, but what he says can easily be applied to authors and even individuals who are simply looking for a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Find those who share your ‘why’
In his talk, Sinek talks about how Martin Luther King spoke about what he believed in, and how others who believed the same things aligned with him. Dr King spoke about things that others believed in and it literally gave him a platform to speak to more people.
As an author you may not have plans to change the world on such a meaningful scale, though don’t let me hold you back if you do, but if you have something to say, can identify your why and find others who resonate with your beliefs, you will be able to grow a solid author platform that could prove to be very powerful.
So what’s your ‘why’? If you need some guidance to help figure it out, download my free worksheet: How to find your ‘why’.