Have you ever watched shows like World’s Funniest Commercials?
When the show took a commercial break, did you sit on your couch and watch the regular commercials and wonder why they had to be so bland? Or did you go make a sandwich or run for the bathroom? Commercials don’t have to be as bad as they often are. Think of the annual hype around Superbowl commercials. How is it that the rest of the year, commercials are background noise for making sandwiches and flushing? The ad industry should try harder.
And so should we. Book promotion can be fun. We should take fun more seriously.
When we write our books, we are at our best. We’re witty and play with ideas and irony. We tell stories. We’re in the entertainment business. So why lose all that buoyancy when it comes to promoting our work? Advertising is writing, too. Yes, writing back cover blurbs and advertising copy is a somewhat different skill set, but this is not rocket science. Examples of good and bad sales copy are all around us. Emulate what works on you.
Some copywriters will enthuse that, sure, maybe you can write a book, but leave a couple of paragraphs of sales copy to a professional. That sounds rather convenient and self-serving, doesn’t it? I don’t believe it. It’s great to be able to hand off such work to others with confidence, but for most of us, we’re writing our own promotional copy. Let’s loosen up and raise the bar.
If you can write a book, you can promote your work effectively without falling back on the cliché of “Buy my book!” I admit, there are writers who only say “buy my book” on Twitter and they are derided everywhere. I think this happens because no one has given them permission to be as imaginative and bouncy as they are when they write their books. It’s all writing, not a separate challenge. If it feels too different from writing books, it’s probably erring on the side of bland.
This is your permission slip:
1. Have more fun. There’s a reason it’s Rule #1. It’s that important, for you and your readers.
2. Use more pull quotes from your work of genius.
3. Make a joke. Be self-deprecating. Be different. Dare to show some personality. Let the joy leak through from your usual writing.
4. Craft something you’d want to read and act upon as a reader.
5. Relax. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Your sales plan doesn’t have to come together within a week or two of your book launch. Ebooks are forever and there are plenty of kicks at the marketing can ahead.
6. Sell less and interact more. Conversations are good. Blaring at is bad.
7. If you can’t interact, curate.
8. Selling effectively is never about selling. It’s about helping your tribe identify their want and need for you. I’m not here to sell. I’m here to help you buy. Stop being so self-conscious and apologetic about what you’re doing and do what you do in books: Put on a show!
9. Not all books are for everyone. Identify where your readers hang out and go there. Advertising for a niche and to a tribe willing to spread your good word is more important than trying to be all things to all people.
Smile. Rejection is a gift. It relieves you of the stress of dealing with boneheads later.
10. Tell more stories, not just in writing books, but in your promotional efforts, too.
Here’s an example of some fun I had on Facebook today:
“Abandoned to an unfeeling universe, an increasing number of Americans are turning to This Plague of Days to confront ‘the horror of it all,’” an anonymous State Department official said. High-level advisors at the White House confirm, “An autistic boy named Jaimie Spencer, 16, of Kansas City, Missouri, may be key to resolving existential ennui. There are jokes, too, but mostly it freaks us out.”
Senator John McCain stated that Congress still can’t decide if Chute’s book is “literary bull****, zombie bull**** or ‘some other bull****.’” The gridlock continues.
Senator Rand Paul is threatening a filibuster, stating, “This is not horror per se! This is dark fantasy and President Obama knows it!” The secret of This Plague of Days remains classified to all but those who read to the end. Rumors of secret video and an offer of a free ebook are confined to those who read the TPOD Omnibus Edition. While Progressives call that anti-egalitarian and elitist, Secretary of State John Kerry said (in a speech that felt like three hours), “That’s capitalism. Whaddaya gonna do?“
Meanwhile, the US Congress approval rating has sunk to a new low of 8%, still above public approval of McDonalds’ fishwich and slightly below mononucleosis as a diet strategy.
However, in a stunning break from party lines in a gracious “hands across the aisle” gesture, Speaker John Boehner and Liberal Senator Harry Reid did come to some concord and issued a joint statement. “The pace really picks up in Season 2 and the gross outs were balanced by some high-minded stuff neither of us really understood. We are all frightened for the Spencer family and keep them in our prayers.”