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One of the reasons we write for publication is for other people.
Considering marketing in the same way can help you, because it focuses on the other person, the customer, not on you. That serves several purposes:
- It makes you think about what they really want
- It takes the focus off you and stops you feeling self-conscious
- It will give you ideas as to what to share
- It will help you to connect with a community
Generosity and social karma
The word karma implies that you get back what you give, and I believe this is true in the social environment. If you give, you will receive.
Being useful, helpful and generous is satisfying to you personally, but also builds up a bank of goodwill. When you later mention that you have a book out, or people are attracted to you because of your generosity, and see you have books/products available, they are more likely to buy.
This isn't woo-woo. It's based on the science of influence. Read Robert Cialdini's book ‘Influence’ and you'll understand that the principle of reciprocity is one of the keys to influencing people's behavior. I believe that we can utilize such principles, but we don't have to do it in a scammy or unethical manner.
Co-opetition is all about the idea of cooperating with your perceived competition so that both parties benefit. When there is a congruence of interests, cooperating together can create greater value than acting alone.
The self-publishing environment in particular is full of authors with entrepreneurial spirit, sharing openly. We discuss sales numbers and promote each other through blog posts and social networks, especially when our books are in the same genre. I particularly find the Alliance of Independent Authors Facebook group really useful in discovering new ideas and getting help with my back blurb and covers.
In working and educating ourselves together, we can learn lessons faster, respond and adapt more quickly.
Traditionally published authors also do this through promoting each others' books, forming groups that speak together at festivals or doing book signings together.
For example, let's say you write science fiction. There's no need to see other science fiction writers as competition. Instead, think of them as potential collaborators on marketing projects. Both of you bring an interested group of readers who will read your books fast and be ready for the next book. Why not work with other writers in the same genre to promote each other, and in that way, everyone benefits.
In the same way, non-fiction writers can work with authors in the same area to target the same readers. After all, a reader who buys one diet book will likely want to buy a whole load more of them!
Some practical ways of doing this include:
- Promoting each others' books to your lists through email or through including back blurbs at the end of your books. This can even go as far as producing collaborative books together.
- Guest blogging or interviewing each other in order to cross-pollinate readers. This is one of the reasons I like to have guest posts on this site, as it allows other authors a chance to showcase their work.
- Creating genre-related sites talking about multiple books of a similar genre which everybody promotes. I am part of Killer-Thrillers.com where a number of best-selling thriller authors promote ebooks on sale for this niche, plus we have Killer-Thrillers TV where I interview thriller authors. That’s true co-opetition!
- Sharing other authors’ books/content on social networks
If you do this consistently, without expecting a return, you will find the favors repaid, sometimes from other sources and in surprising ways. The synchronicity of the web in action …
The importance of know, like and trust
An important principle behind all of this is authenticity. Marketing from a personal perspective is about people getting to know, like and trust us. It’s about delivering value and not just being about the sale.
Everything I do online is focused on those principles.
For example, I will include a photo on my Twitter timeline that relates to my writing e.g. my desk at the library or out on a research trip. This enables people to get to know me a little more and get an insight into my life. What is mundane routine for you may be fascinating to others who live somewhere else in the world.
It's more personal but it is also always related to my books or to writing, publishing or book marketing – all my niche. I don't share pictures of me with my husband, as that is personal but not relevant, and I've drawn a line for privacy.
But sharing like this is about building a relationship with people and allowing them a glimpse into your real life.
Anything that has your name on it needs to support your reputation.
So if you write gossipy chick lit, sharing husband stories might be appropriate. You can still be authentic with a pseudonym as it's your behavior that counts and not just the name.
Focus on delivering the same emotional promise that your books make.
Do you believe in generosity, social karma and co-opetition in marketing and online behavior? What are some other ways we can help each other? Please do leave a comment below.
This is an excerpt from ‘How To Market A Book,' Amazon #1 Bestseller in Writing Skill Reference.