Flipping marketing from fear to joy

Often, when an author considers asking a reader to pick up a book, they consider the financial cost. You may see lots of social media posts from an author stating: “The book is on sale, it’s only $9.99! Grab it now!” And while that cost is a factor in whether a reader purchases a book, that is not the primary one. What is? Their attention and time. I just finished reading two biographies, and am coming close to finishing a third. This is the commitment:

  • Book #1: print version: 982 pages; audio version: 50 hours and 28 minutes.
  • Book #2: print version: 539 pages; audio version: 22 hours and 53 minutes.
  • Book #3: print version: 400 pages; audio version: 18 hours and 4 minutes.

Even if I had paid $200 for each book, that would have been worth if for the sheer number of hours of education and entertainment I received from these. But of course, they didn’t cost that much, and the main factors I weighed in buying them was the topic of the book, the writing style, the reviews, and for audiobooks, the narration.

Reading these books is a huge commitment for me as a reader. It’s not just about doing the math of “look how much entertainment value you get for $20, it’s such a deal.” Because there are millions of books. And my interests and attention are, if I were being honest, really specific. So when we consider what it takes to get someone to become aware of your book, to consider it, to purchase it, to read it, and to tell others about it, there is so much more going on here than price. It dives deep into who they are, the experiences they want, committing their very finite resources of time and attention, and how what we create connects with those things.

If you are subscribed to this newsletter, chances are you are a writer or creator. You likely have a goal of figuring out how to share what you create in a way that feels authentic to who you, and that reaches your ideal audience in a meaningful manner.I mentioned a word in last week’s email: gratitude.I’ve worked full-time with writers for 12 years, and I have found that this word is a powerful way to achieve what so many of you hope for:

  • To connect your book with readers in a meaningful way.
  • To establish and grow your author platform.
  • To find ways to share what you create, with a powerful sense of authenticity.
  • To ensure your work truly has an impact in people’s lives.

Sometimes when I see people talk about marketing books, they talk use terms such as “bestseller,” “viral,” “influencer.” And sure, those things are good. If I asked a writer why they would want those things, they would likely answer: “If I had that much attention, I could use it for good. I would help people through my writing.”

But, you can do that right now. Today. And everyday. (Without having to do a viral TikTok dance.)

Gratitude may sound wimpy next to “viral bestselling influencers,” but I honestly think it is more powerful. Not just because it feels good, but it makes for great marketing.

Okay, here is what I’m proposing:

  1. Every day for one week, send one email or Direct Message on social media to someone.
  2. That message should express gratitude for who that person is, and what they create.
  3. That’s it.

Can you make this super strategic in terms of being aligned to your goals as a writer? Sure. You can do a big calculation about which podcasts you would love to be a guest on, and then send a gratitude email with the hopes of getting your foot in the door. But… you can just email someone who has no connection to your writing as well, and thank them.

Often, writers don’t have the powerful asset they need to ensure their book gets attention: a network of colleagues. Yet, if you signed with a big publisher, one of the first things they would send you in terms of marketing is an Author Questionnaire. Basically, they will ask you about everyone you know (and have known), every place you worked, every organization you have a connection with. Why? Because they know that people who know you already, are those who are most likely to support and talk about your book.

I strongly encourage you to develop a community of colleagues around what you create. Gratitude emails are a powerful way to do this. What’s more, they just feel good. What are the goals? Here are a few:

  • You will likely discover that you have a bigger network than you think, but that you may have fallen out of touch with many people. Gratitude is a great way to reconnect.
  • This process helps you think critically about who else aligns with what you create, and how to reach those people.
  • Learning the process of outreach (how to send a simple but effective email) is a critical process in book marketing. Why not practice that skill on something that brightens someone’s day?
  • It helps turn marketing from fear to joy. So many writers worry about putting themselves and their books out there. So let’s focus on making people feel good in how you share.