In order to grow as an author, you must become a better marketer.
The authors who are dominating their fields right now are not necessarily the best at their craft. What they are the best at is marketing.
I’ve just finished reading two business books, This is Marketing by Seth Godin and To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink. Both assert that marketing is an essential part of today’s society and that mastering it is the way to unlock success in your chosen field.
This applies to authors, as most of us are notoriously bad at the marketing side of things. Those indie authors who are topping the Amazon bestseller lists are not necessarily the best writers, but they are almost certainly the best marketers.
So, how can we get better at marketing? Here are five steps to becoming a better marketer today:
1. Stop thinking of it as a dirty word
For a long time, sales and marketing were synonymous with advertising. Think shouty ads that rudely interrupt you, whether you’re reading a magazine, watching a TV show or driving on a motorway.
This no longer works in the same way it used to. Today, marketing is less about who can shout the loudest and more about who can provide the most value.
If you start thinking about marketing in this way, it stops being sleazy and irritating and starts being about serving people.
2. Figure out ways to better serve your audience
Marketing is ultimately about service. You need to figure out what your target readers want and give them that thing. So, find out what your readers are struggling with.
Solving a problem is the easiest way to serve someone, which is why instructional non-fiction can do very well.
A novel also solves a problem: boredom. Your job as a fiction writer is to serve your readers the best solution to that problem.
3. Learn about business (and think outside the box)
If you aim to make your writing career profitable, becoming business savvy is essential. This is applicable to any creative endeavour you want to make money from.
When I’m not working at The CopyPress, I’m an independent illustrator. What I’m realising more and more is that I need to focus on improving my business skills as much as (if not more than) my artistic ones.
Creative types aren’t always the best at the business side of things. I’ve found that looking at examples of business people in other industries can be really helpful in finding marketing ideas to apply to my own business.
Creatives have an advantage over other business people because you can apply creativity to your marketing.
4. Teach yourself copywriting
It has become apparent to me through working at The CopyPress that a great creative writer doesn’t always make a good copywriter.
Copywriting is a type of persuasive writing designed to sell, market or advertise something. For instance, your book probably isn’t copywriting, but its blurb is. Likewise, your author bio and anything that is written for the purpose of selling your book is copywriting.
Refer to the article I wrote on how to write a blurb to get started, but also look for tutorials and articles about writing good copy. Copyblogger.com is a great place to start.
5. Know what your point of difference is
In business, this is known as your unique selling point (USP) and it’s what sets your book apart from the others. You have to think about why someone would choose your book over another one on the same topic or in the same genre.
In non-fiction, this is probably your subject if you’re writing on an obscure topic, or your angle if you’re writing on a more popular one.
For fiction writers, your USP is probably your ‘hook’ – a topic I cover in the blurb-writing article.