Writing Wednesday: Everything You Know About Marketing is WRONG!!!
So on Monday’s post I was going on about how most of us do the blogging thing all wrong by aiming our blogs at other writers. Instead of aiming at other writers, we need to aim at the larger audience who might actually buy our books.
Last month Rachel Harrie began another Crusade/Campaign thingy and while it’s a nice way to connect with other bloggers, it’s part of the problem I was talking about on Monday. The problem with the Crusade/Campaign is that the “platform” you’re building is only with other struggling writers. So while my participation in the second one made me a couple of new “friends” like Michael and Rusty, it didn’t really do a lot in terms of sales.
What you need then is to stop the penny ante bullshit and focus on doing some real marketing. The problem though is always HOW? I was thinking of that and then I remembered my favorite Twilight Zone episode.
That episode is called “He Lives” from the hour-long fourth season, which incidentally you can’t watch on Netflix Instant yet. Jerks. At the start of the episode a young Dennis Hopper is a would-be Fuhrer preaching on the street corners of New York. But except for his three loyal minions everyone else just laughs at him and throws rotten vegetables at him. Then one night a mysterious stranger shows up outside Dennis Hopper’s building and starts giving him tips. The big twist (spoiler!) is that the shadowy stranger is the ghost (or reincarnation or whatever) of Adolf Hitler.
Maybe it’s not a great idea to be taking advice from fictitious Hitler, but here we are. What fictitious Hitler tells Dennis Hopper is that if he wants his message to reach the people, he must first JOIN the people. You have to be part of the mob before you can expect to control it.
And that’s what you need to do. After you identify who the mob is, you need to figure out what the mob likes and where the mob hangs out. Getting back to my example from Monday, I said my theoretical audience is teen-20something women who like reading about women kicking butt. So now that I have a rough idea who these people are, I need to figure out where they go on the Internet. Probably social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and so forth to start off with.
From there we have to follow the next stage of fictitious Hitler’s advice: Make your cause, their cause. But the worst way to do that would be to go on Twitter and Facebook and start saying “Buy My Book!” No one will listen to you and they’ll probably just hate you.
A few months back I wrote an entry referencing the movie “The Joneses” about a fictitious family who are actually undercover marketers selling things to people without anyone realizing it. How? Not by running around screaming, “Buy this!” like an infomercial. Instead what they strove to do was to be the coolest people in the room. And then everyone, seeing how cool they are, would buy the same stuff as them to try and be just as cool–the old keeping up with the Joneses expression.
That might be the biggest problem of all. Most writers are not cool. We’re nerds. That’s why we’re writers! Instead of playing football or basketball or doing cheers in high school, we sat in dusty libraries reading and scribbling in notebooks. So most of us–especially me–do not have the social acumen to be the coolest person in any room, even if it’s a chat room or a Facebook page.
But by Grabthar’s Hammer we need to try! Because that’s how you get out of the penny ante scams and into the big time.
So if you find where your audience is hanging out, don’t scream at them right away to buy your book. And don’t try to make the wry, ironic comments us writers love to Tweet. If we learned anything from the George W regime, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachman it’s that America does not appreciate smart people. So don’t go marching in there trying to impress everyone with your big, delicious brain.
Instead, keep your mouth shut! You got to look around first, get the lay of the land. See what the people are talking about. See who the cool people are. Then you join in. If you’re lucky you’ll make some inroads with the cool people and thus everyone else will think you’re cool too.
Only then after you’ve thoroughly infiltrated the mob can you begin trying to steer it towards your website and thus your book. If all that hard work pays off, then you might be hitting the big time. And you might whine (as I would) that this is going to take forever. It might, but do you think Coca-Cola or McDonald’s or Wal-Mart built their empires in a day? It takes years to go from local to regional to national to global. So you got to think in terms of the big picture here. This is a long con, not a game of three-card Monty.
Of course this is all theoretical at this point. It’ll probably take someone who’s a lot savvier than me to make it work. But I think the principles are sound, even if most of them come from fictitious Hitler.
Friday: Why titles matter.