Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why We Buy Books, Part 2

So, yesterday I told you that all that marketing stuff you're killing yourself over isn't worth half as much as writing a good book. And that's true. But it's also true that marketing--when done right--is totally worth it.

Here's why. I firmly believe in the "five-touch rule." I've no idea where I heard of it first, but it works. For most people, they have to heard of something five times before they buy it. So, sticking with books, I usually hear about a book five times before I go out and make an effort to purchase it. Take, for example, The Shifter. I heard about it on the author's agent's blog first, several months before it was out. I saw an online review a week before it came out. I went to the author's website and checked that out. Then I was in the store, saw it face out (another touch--the bookstore was advertising it), and I bought it. Four touches before it was in my hand.

This doesn't always work--I'd not heard of Fool before my friend recommended it for the book club, but since she did, I trusted her and bought it immediately. But quite a few books do require more than one source of recommendation. A couple of online reviews, a couple of GoodRead recs. The more touches, the better.

But you can also get all your touches from one source. Shannon Messenger recently did a week-long feature of Lisa Schroeder. I went in thinking I'd never want to read Lisa's work. I'm not a huge fan of poetry novels, and the covers of the books were not the kind that I would pick up on my own at the store. If Shannon had done one review, I would have skimmed it and forgotten about the books.

But she did a week-long party of the book and the author. There was the review, of course, but also an author interview. Both pretty typical in terms of online markting. Shannon took it even further: she offered a contest, a poetry sample from Lisa's books, shared some of her poetry, and encouraged others to write their own poetry--which she featured on her blog, as well as bringing in song lyrics. She got people excited about the author and the books.

I ended up being lucky enough to win a copy of one of Lisa's books--which I'm devouring. Shannon's week of posts turned me into a Lisa fan.

So, while writing is important, so is marketing. My point with these posts is that both are important. It takes a lot to get a book from your hand into the hand of your audience--a book buyer. But when thinking of how to market your book, think of ways to go outside the box. Something like what Shannon did is an excellent example, and proof that good writing generates word of mouth that generates more sales.
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