Congratulations! After many days and nights of putting your thoughts into words, you are finally done. The product of your imagination, creativity and experience is finally tangible in your hands. There’s excitement and relief that you are finally done. But are you really done? How do you get everyone or your target audience to buy and read your masterpiece?
Although the core of this piece is targeted at authors, bloggers, freelancers, copywriters and writers in general, I can assure that everyone will find the insight shared very instrumental to their profession. The marketing ideas shared are not restrictive to only people within the book publishing space or writing fraternity. For whatever product or service you market, the priceless nuggets discussed in this material can impact your brand and business significantly.
Marketing and distribution of their work can be a nightmare for writers. In his book ‘Sell like Crazy’, Sabri Suby encourages his reader to be a marketer and a salesman to be a real-life representation of their product – the go to point for that product. He notes how important sales are for a business to survive; they are simply the heart of the business. As demands for the work are being met, that is what makes the dub-dub of the heart steady and stable.
Writing is not easy. Getting people to purchase your work is even less easy. Generally, getting people to notice and purchase from you is not a walk in the park. Unless the purpose of your writing is philanthropic or pure benevolence, you intend to make some commercial value from your work. As such, one of your ultimate goals will be that your published material reaches the intended reader.
What is the point of writing if you are not selling? I am reminded of the story of a man who sold roasted plantain at a spot close to a popular traffic light. Within the period that a particular bus stood at the traffic light, the man had eaten about 4 of the plantains he had finished roasting. All of a sudden, someone from the bus blurted out: “Eei! Mr. Man, are you selling or eating what you are roasting?” Although this classic roasted plantain seller might have a tasty product, he certainly needs a good sales and marketing strategy, else he lives to the expectation of the famous nickname of his product, ‘Kofi Brokeman’.
As a writer, you need to consider your publication as a product just the same way Adonko bitters or Coca-Cola would creatively market and sell their products. It is the utmost desire of every writer to be a household name; to have readers hooked and eager to comb through their work. One would admit that it is satisfying to have readers rush for our work and even request for more; making them modern-day Oliver Twists asking for more even before what they have is finished.
To get people to wholeheartedly consume our works, John the Baptist needs to prepare the way. Others could liken it to clearing a parcel of land before putting up a beautiful building on it. As a writer, sales & marketing is the John the Baptist we need to employ to pave the way and draw attention to the work even before it is actually ready for all to see. In our quest to make impact and increase sales through effective marketing and distribution, these guidelines will prove themselves informative:
- “Adepa na eton ne ho”
As a writer, you need to consider yourself the first salesperson and brand ambassador for your publication. As mentioned earlier, consider your publications as products because that is what they are – and market them aggressively. This responsibility is first yours, and you cannot relinquish it to someone or expect someone to do it for you. Coca-Cola does not expect Pepsi or any other company to promote their product for them. They market it themselves and they do so in full force.
There is a lot of truth in the saying, “Adepa na eton ne ho”, but the restrictions or limitation of this expression is what makes Apple Inc. still advertise their products. Your book may be good, but you have to market it because it will not sell itself; it will not walk into people’s rooms or jump into people’s hands or libraries without you first creating visibility and awareness. Sabri Suby aggressively markets his book ‘Sell Like Crazy’ and Emeka Nobis shamelessly markets his books particularly, ‘Your Book Will Sell’.
- Who knows you?
Be an authority in what you are writing. When a particular field is mentioned, your name must come up in that conversation. Carve a niche for yourself; an impenetrable brand that causes you to stand out from the masses. You can only charge more for your work if you are a recognised expert on the subject matter.
Building a good brand ensures that readers do not necessarily even find out what the work is about. Once the work has your name attached to it, trust in its originality is assured. It is said that people buy writers first before topics. There are people who would love to buy and read any book by Sydney Sheldon, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or John Maxwell. In Ghana, most people would like to click open the portals of ZionFelix, Kwadwo Sheldon and Nkonkonsa. They have built a brand with their publications so we know them. Who knows you?
- Paa Paa Paa Paa!
Who knows about your work and how do they know about it? What promotion strategies have you adopted to put your work out there? Ensure your strategies are enticing – drawing your target market in and whetting their appetite for what is yet to come. In fact, to do this, your target market should be carefully marked out and specific strategies carried out to suit them.
You cannot write an article about fashion for a magazine that is known for their prowess in business content. Likewise, you cannot publicise a book suited for teenagers in a newspaper like the Business and Financial Times; that is not a paper targetted at teenagers. Even after the target market is identified, the kind of media to reach them is another step that must be carefully considered.
My book ‘Mastering Digital’ proposes strategies used to reach readers using social media; youngsters are more likely to be reached on social media than on traditional media like the radio or newspapers. It is important to note that identification of the target market is key to getting the impact you want in your publicising strategies. Make noise about your product but use the right channel. For instance, my book ‘Mastering Digital’ follows effective promotion strategies. The book is available on Amazon, Sayda, Selar, Booknook and other leading online and in-person book stores.
There is no point writing for others to read if you cannot supply them with your work when they demand for it. Writers need to ask themselves important questions: How often am I going to write; when do I release my next piece; how will my readers get my content; what avenue will readers use to get my content; who will be the contact person for my work? etc. It is important to ensure that your work is readily available to those who want it. Sometimes, in our bid to create some sort of shortage of our work so readers clamour for our next piece, we end up losing them.
They turn to the next person who gives them what they are looking for. In our communities, market women create artificial shortages of their products to increase prices; fuel stations also use this strategy sometimes. At other times there are genuine shortages in the market, but it is important to note that creating artificial shortages can backfire.
However, just as there are limited editions of cars and clothes, writers can also have limited editions of their work. My friend Bernard Kelvin Clive, an amazon bestselling author of over twenty published books, illustrates this with his book ‘Rebrand’, 2020 edition.
- Always communicate
Usually, companies pre-engage consumers before they release new products. They try to get the public’s reaction to the products. We sometimes see this in the malls when companies offer samples of wines and find out what consumers think about it. Companies do this to heighten the interest of target markets and help them prepare toward release of the work.
Apple Inc. usually pre-informs its buyers of the next model of iPhone and its specs before it is brought onto the market. These are some strategies we can make use of. You could release snippets of your work in captivating graphics to test the waters. It could be something as short as a quote from the book, a paragraph or an endorsement from a well-known personality in society.
These are a few nuggets that can make the arduous task of marketing and distributing your publication easier. In all of this, it is best to work with a team that understands you and your product. Cheers to your journey of becoming the author who aced marketing and distribution!
>>>the writer is a corporate trainer and professional ghostwriter assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You can contact the author via: [email protected]