The Business of Being a Writer: Turning Attention Into SalesPosted by Cynthia on April 12, 2018
Jane Friedman has spent more than 20 years in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publisher, and professor. The following is an excerpt from her newest book, The Business of Being a Writer.
The right message + the right words + the right audience = success!
Typically, the biggest missing piece for writers (and publishers too) is the right audience. While you may tune out market concerns during the creative process, once that process is over and it comes to the business of writing and publishing, there’s no way around the discussion of audience. If you can’t reach an audience, your career will stall.
While “word of mouth” plays a powerful role in making anyone’s work more visible, a strong marketing plan can be integral to sparking that word of mouth in the first place. Nearly all great work has to be thoughtfully marketed to gain visibility, and thoughtful marketing starts with understanding of audience.
The wealth of online information and social media means it’s easier than ever to develop a portrait of your audience: where they hang out, what types of media they consume, where they shop. To better understand your readers and how to reach them, here are some starting points:
- Come up with at least two or three established writers who produce work similar to your own. Study reader reviews of their work on Amazon or Goodreads. When you find a stellar review by a person who is active online, dig deeper—take a look at their profile and their website if they have one, and develop a portrait of someone who could be your ideal reader.
- Think of a writer similar to you or one you wish to emulate. Which publications have interviewed or reviewed that writer? Do those publications serve your target audience? What can you learn about the audience from those publications?
- Where do writers similar to you appear – both in real life and online? What events do they attend? Look at their social media activity: What does it say about who their readership is?
Once you know who you are approaching and where you can reach them, that’s half the battle. The other half is communicating well: the right message and the right words. Your marketing communications will usually have one of two objectives:
1. To drive a sale
- 2. To build a relationship
Platform building is directed toward the second goal and is what most of your marketing communication consists of. It’s an ongoing effort to develop your audience and reach new readers. Big corporations participate in this type of communication as well, and it’s typically called brand building. When Coke runs an advertisement that says “Open happiness,” that’s not a sales-driven message; that’s a brand-building message. Conversely, when McDonald’s advertises a $1.99 McRib sandwich available only for the next two weeks, that’s a sales-driven message meant to directly affect the bottom line.
Sales-driven communications are typically tied to specific marketing campaigns, product launches, or short-term initiatives. This is where you would be most likely to measure your effectiveness, and look at cause-and-effect outcomes. For example: Did my promotional posts affect my email newsletter sign-ups? Did my discount affect book sales? But when you’re building relationships, you typically do not measure cause and effect, because making a sale isn’t the point. Building a conductive environment or making a connection that will lead to a sale later is the point. Be aware that if you emphasize sales-driven messages across all your marketing communications for extended periods, your community will tire of you.
Established, full-time writers know that a large online following doesn’t equate to a sustainable business model. Instead, and engaged audience that helps spread word of mouth leads to success. Use analytics to identify how and where you get the best engagement, and what tools help you find the right audience, rather than the biggest audience. Ultimately, this is the most powerful feature of digital media: its ability to find and reach just the right person, who enjoys your work or who can benefit from your service.
Excerpted with permission from The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman © 2018 by Jane Friedman
Tips for Applying This to Goodreads
- Find authors in the same genre or with a similar writing style and follow them on Goodreads to see what kind of activity they do.
- Use Ask the Author to ask successful authors for concrete advice. Read Michael J. Sullivan great answer to one readers' question here.
- Decide how your Goodreads activity will fit into your marketing plan. For example, figure out when you will run a Giveaway or take questions from readers using Ask the Author.
How do you approach book marketing? Share your tips in the comments below! Jane Friedman will be responding to any questions left for her the week of April 16, 2018.
Next: How to Engage with Reviewers on Goodreads
You might also like: Excerpt from Online Marketing for Busy Authors - Know Thy Reader
Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.
Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)
date newest »
back to top