Monday, October 15, 2007

For a few drops of water

Who ever thunk that writing would end up causing me to worry so much about marketing? It's not like I'm thinking, "Are my books any good? Will people like them?" It's more, "How can I get the word out? How can I help market my books?"

It's one thing to write a good book. It's another to write one that sells well. And sometimes, unfortunately, far too often, a better book is outsold by one of lesser quality but better marketing.

I was a marketing major in college, and one of the things you learn is the importance of placement. Have you ever noticed one brand of commodity on the supermarket's shelf with two entirely different packagings? You probably figure that one is getting phased in while the other is being phased out. Usually not. What's more likely happening is that they are evaluating the different packing to see which sells better. And your supermarket is being used as a 'test' store.

Another marketing ploy in supermarkets is what is on sale on the ends of the aisles. One generally thinks that there are bargains at the end of the aisle, and these usually sell better than product in mid-aisle, which can be lost among competitor brands and other goods.

Book sales are similar. What books sell better? The ones at the front of the store, obviously. Those that get 'face' placement, rather than just the spine. Etc. etc. etc.

I have a little game that I like to play at my local library. If one of my books is buried on one of the shelves, I'll take it out and put it one of the little displays that they have all over the library that shows the cover of the book. Then I'll check the library's catalog later, and most often the book gets checked out within a day or two. Placement.

So I do a lot of thinking nowadays about marketing. How can I help market my books? I sent my books out to a bunch of reviewers. They all loved them and wrote wonderful things about them. Has this helped sales? I don't know. I go to book fairs and do a pretty good job of selling them one on one as people browse by my stall. Will this help in the long run? Sure, there are some immediate sales, but does it end there?

I know that my readers are satisfied... I've heard from them. But will they talk about my books? Help spread the word? Will someone who reads my books at the library decide to buy one for a relative for Christmas? Or do they read the books, laugh at all of the funny stuff, and put it on their bookshelves to gather dust?

You never know. Does blogging bring in readers? There are differing views on this.

Frankly, I look at whatever I do as sowing seeds. You never know where they will take root and what might happen. So I sow them everywhere I can, local media and national media (Oprah, USA Today, Publishers Weekly) and hope that a seed might find fertile soil ... and get enough water ... and sunlight ... a maybe a worm or two to help irrigate the soil.

All seeds ... just waiting for a few drops of water.

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness

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