Most novelists hate marketing, and that’s OK. Why do we hate marketing? Because we don’t want to feel like a weasel. We all hate those oily marketing dweebs who write slick copy to separate people from their money by selling them things they don’t need.
It’s good to have a conscience. It’s good to not want to be a weasel. How can you be different from those awful marketing slicks? How can you market your work effectively and not feel icky about it?
Secret #1: How Can You Help People?
You wrote a good novel, right? A novel that certain people will love, because it gives them a powerful emotional experience. An experience they need right now to get through another day.
What is that powerful emotional experience? Did you feel it yourself while writing your novel? What kind of reader will feel it while reading your novel?
And very importantly, what kind of reader will NOT be helped by your novel?
You need to be very clear about this in your own mind. Your novel will absolutely help some people. And it will leave some other people cold. What’s the difference between these two groups?
The set of people who will be helped by your novel is called your Target Audience. It’s a small fraction of all the people in the world. These are the only people you want to sell to.
Until you’re clear on your Target Audience, don’t even bother trying to write marketing copy, because you’ve got nothing to work with.
Secret #2: How Can You Get the Attention of Your Kind of Reader?
You typically get people’s attention with a headline of some sort. Or possibly an amazing graphic. Something out of the ordinary that your Target Audience will notice.
Bear in mind that you have something great that will help your Target Audience. So you don’t need to feel shy about doing something a little out of the ordinary. You know that they’d love your work, if only they knew it existed. But they may not even know YOU exist, much less your novel. So figure out some thing that will resonate with your Target Audience.
A headline tuned specially to the kind of people who like your kind of writing. Or a graphic. Or a video. Or whatever. Something that will catch their attention in the first half-second before their eyes move on to the next thing in the endless stream of life.
Secret #3: How Can You Scare Away the Wrong Kind of Reader?
At this stage, you’ve got the attention of your Target Audience, and that’s good.
The problem is that you’ve also accidentally grabbed the attention of people outside your Target Audience. These are people who won’t like your kind of writing. You have an ethical responsibility to let them know fast, so they’ll stop reading your marketing copy and move on.
Why would you do that? Why push away potential customers? Well, for one thing, it’s the honest thing to do. But for another, when you scare away people outside your Target Audience, you also pull in closer those people INSIDE your Target Audience. You’ve given them an identity, and you’ve shown you’re one of them.
You have one or two paragraphs to spell out who your marketing copy is for. To make clear that you’ve got something good for the right audience. But it’s not good for anyone else.
At the end of that one or two paragraphs, your Target Audience will have committed to reading all your marketing copy. And everyone else will be scared off.
That’s good, ethical marketing. The kind that doesn’t make you feel icky.
Secret #4: Make Your Case
At this point, anyone still reading your marketing copy is very likely to be in your Target Audience. Visualize one person in that Target Audience. Make your case to them why they will love this thing you’ve got that’s perfect for them.
This can take a long time or a short time. Don’t cut it short, if you need a lot of words. Give them all the info they need.
Bear in mind that some people in your Target Audience will be skimming down the page, so put the key points at the start of every main section and at the start of every paragraph.
And also bear in mind that some people read all the copy before they make a decision. So answer all their questions.
Remember that your goal is not merely to make a sale. Your goal is to help people in your Target Audience. So make sure that your marketing copy helps people all by itself, even if they buy nothing from you.
That’s right. Give away some of your gold right inside your marketing copy. This costs you nothing, and it helps your Target Audience. Do it and make the world a better place. You’ll sleep well tonight and wake up happy in the morning.
Write as much copy as you need, and then…
Secret #5: Ask For the Sale
At a certain point, your Target Audience is convinced. They want to buy what you have for sale. Tell them how to get it. Ask for the sale. If you’re writing a sales page, ask them to click the Buy button. If you’re trying to get them to sign up for your blog or email newsletter, ask them to sign up.
Marketing people call this step the “Call to Action.” It’s not complicated. Ask them to do what you want them to do. Don’t make them wonder. And don’t tell them to think about it and come back later. If this thing you’re selling is good for them, then they need it now, not manana.
Give them one Call to Action, not many. Don’t put a link to all your novels. Put one link. So your Target Audience only has to make one decision—to click or not click. Too many choices just makes things confusing.
I eat my own dog food. I teach things that I do myself. So here’s some simple homework for you, and it’s a very meta assignment. Take a look at this blog post and see if it follows its own advice:
- What kind of person would be helped by this article? What kind would not?
- Does my headline attract the attention of people likely to be helped by this blog post?
- Do my first couple of paragraphs explain who my Target Audience is, and who it isn’t?
- What gold do I give away at no cost in this article?
- What is my Call to Action?
Want to Know More?
Want to know more about marketing your novel? Take a look at my page, Marketing Tools for Writers, where I talk about the “Three Rings of Power” in marketing, and I list some of my favorite tools that I use for my own marketing. You might find something useful there, and if so, that’s a win, right?