I've been thinking hard about marketing for a few months now - what a world it is out there! Did you know that companies have Review Management Plans? Well, I can understand that and will post my thoughts on reviews later, but for now, here's where I'm at with marketing. This is not going to be a definitive post with 10-sure-fire ways to market that e-book, or 7-easy advertising steps to make your e-book a best seller, because at the moment, I haven't reached a conclusion. So, this is a ramble to clear my head.
I have spent a week or so contacting special interest groups (sweet romance readers) asking if they'd like to read my book. Time consuming, depressing, and not very productive.
Way back int he 80s I used to be a Park Ranger (trust me, this is relevant). For a year, I worked at Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford. My task was to encourage local schools to use the cemetery (26-acres of Victoriana) as a nature resource. For the first couple of weeks, I rang up the schools and asked if they would like to go on a nature walk in the cemetery. Schools are awful to deal with. First you have to get past suspicious dragons who treat you like a potential pornographic white slaver, then they pass you to someone who treats you like a small piece of dung on the bottom of a shoe, and if you do get through to a teacher, they pin you to the spot and tell you why their frightfully important curriculum means they have no time for pathetic rubbish like you or your walks. Dreadful! It still stands out as one of my biggest job-shaped disasters. (And there are many!).
During this time I had been developing the walks. Thanks to a weekend workshop with American who developed the Earthwalks programme, I knwe that you had to put a cute spin on the walks: so, we came up with minibeast safaris (thank you, Steve), and a monument tick charts, so the designer & I made some nice leaflets & sent them to the local paper. Their reporter was brilliant. He fetched his pretty little daughter and a pith helmet & a magnifying glass, and put her next to undergrowth and headstones in an exploring pose. The resultant charming photograph was on the front page of the paper. And you know what? The phone rang off the hook for the rest of the year.
I was the same. The activity was the same. The location was the same. All that had changed was the perception of its desirability. And that changed because of spin. Not a nature walk, but a minbeast safari. Not ringing up begging people to support the cemetery, but showing how fun it was so they came to us.
So, it's coming to my mind that I'm currently in the first part of the story with my romance books. Book readers are nicer than teachers. They often reply sweetly, wishing you luck and saying they might have time in December to look at your book, which is all one can reasonably ask from them, but I think I need to somehow turn around the situation so that they WANT my books.
Next point, which I haven't quite joined up yet. Duncan Bannatyne in his business book Wake Up and Change Your Life says that you need to know what your business is. Writing books (or making soap) isn't a business, it's an activity. Your business lies in what makes you different from everybody else. Now, I've read lots about unique selling points, and never quite got it, but last night I suddenly saw what he means. That difference is what makes people come to me rather than the other way around. Not a nature walk (that's an activity) but a Monument Tick Chart (which gained a half a page in the Guardian newspaper - that's a business).
So, not just Regency novels, that's an activity, but something about that Regency novel that makes people pick it up, which will be (pun irresistible) the business.
Jane Austen and the White Slavers, anyone?
So, not a firm conclusion, but I'm sure this is the right path. I think people waste a lot of time chasing their own tails (back-scratching on author's discussion boards, review swapping, tag swapping, leaving cheesy messages on forums & blogs just to get their links seen). It's time that would be better spent on creating, and spinning, the next book.
So what that means is that I have to work harder at high concepts. Watch this space.