My idea to write a non-fiction, inspirational book may not be unique, but the implementation of my marketing strategy definitely is.
I’m not Ryan Holiday, or Sean Ellis, or any other kind of marketing genius, but I made a huge break-through today. A break-through that will surely help my little inspirational project. I don’t want to keep my methodology a secret. It’s still untested (we’ll see how many orders ship on April 28th), but I figured, what the hell, I’ll share some of my recent insights.
Don’t Write in the Dark!
Many of the writers scrolling through here probably already know what beta readers are, and how to use them. I’m not going to get into the details, but at some point, long before release, you NEED to share your work. FTDB was made public once I had a first draft, and it helped a couple of people right out of the gate. Some wrote back, saying that they were already doing some of the things that the book suggested, while a couple wrote to tell me that it was “just the kick in the ass I needed.”
Sharing with readers, especially those in your target audience, is the ONLY way to make sure that you have a good product. All the flowery prose in the world isn’t going to help a shitty story, and a great story can be derailed if it has chronic mistakes. Beta readers can help you, find as many as you can, and use them. FTDB was downloaded by over 100 people, all of them (theoretically) writers, or artists, or musicians.
Adjusting your book, fiction or non-fiction, in a way that makes the audience super happy with it, is the best way to ensure that you have a good product.
This might not work for fiction, or perhaps it works and I’ve just narrowed the scope of a broader topic to match my book, but this is my little hack. I made damn sure that my book would elicit an emotional response. Everyone who wrote back to me about the book, either told me that it helped to motivate them, or they were already super motivated weirdos (you know who you are) and gave me some bonus suggested content ideas. That was the second iteration. The pre-pre-release.
I’ve actually been told by two people online who aren’t writers that it inspired them with their own artistic endeavors. And one guy I met today, latched onto the idea of the book very quickly. I’ll bring him back up in a minute.
Make it Sharable
There’s a million ways to do this. The end of the book has a link to a special coupon page on my website, where you can download the first seven chapters for free. Why the hell would you want to do this if you already paid for it and read it? You wouldn’t, but you might have friends that would want it.
I’m basically offering up the first half of the book for free, to anyone who wants it. (If you want the link, send me an email, and I’ll send it to you). Why would I do something this insane? Number one, I believe in this book. That conversation today cemented my confidence in it. It’s a good book, with a great message, and I believe that it can help people, even outside of the writing community.
By offering it up for free, I can reach more people through friend-of-a-friend spreading, and hopefully, anyone it really helps will be encouraged to complete the purchase, both as a thank-you to the author (the ultimate thank-you) and because they want to nab all the wonderful “what to do after you finish the draft” stuff, as well as the appendices. It’s the ultimate try-it-before-you-buy it!
The goal is to encourage sharing and spreading. Put something wonderful in your book, a special gift to your readers, a bonus prize for leaving a review on Amazon, anything. Maybe even a discount code that they can give to a friend. Make them WANT to talk about your book. You might have to do some brainstorming, but find something that will make readers actually want to talk about and share your book.
Stop trolling for customers, find fans
When someone goes absolutely crazy about something I’m doing, I always feel special, and I always try to repay the favor of that special feeling. I guess that probably doesn’t make sense, since in their mind I’m the one deserving the thank-you, but I’m always reaching out.
That brings me to the story of today. My huge success? I found ONE fan. Just one. And I’m happier than if I had sold 100 pre-orders. Why? No. I’m not nuts. Well, okay maybe a little, but…
That one fan loved my concept. I was in a coffee shop. I overheard a conversation about local artists, and I decided to introduce myself. I learned about what they were doing, and I thought it was great. He asked if I was an artist, or maybe I mentioned that I was a writer looking for another group, I don’t remember, but I proceeded to tell him about my book, and the idea and intent.
It was during our 4-5 hour discourse that something became apparent. My book could help his project too. I gave him the free link mentioned above, and told him to check it out. We spent most of the time talking about his group, and spit-balling ideas to make it better. Many of the ideas I mentioned to him came either directly from my book, or from Growth Hacker Marketing, by Ryan Holiday.
Of course, in four hours, many wonderful books, movies, and people were discussed. But the very idea I’m driving at right now was the meat of the discussion. And that is…
Put Your Energy Into The Biggest Fans
I spend 4 hours today talking to a stranger, and trying to help him with his project. His project, and the ideas we were discussing were relevant to my little writing book. I had other ideas that could help him with his project, and he had ideas to help me spread the word about my book. Product/Market fit.
Find the people that love your idea, your story, your book. Find the ones that get excited about your project, and get excited about their project. Contact them one at a time if you have to, and focus on them. Me and my new friend will be meeting again soon for coffee and more brainstorming. I like his project, and he likes mine.
Finding Your Audience
Now, before you chalk all of this up to luck. I left the house this morning with one goal, only one. Find one person who resonates with FTDB. Show them the you-tube videos if I want to make an impact, or give them the coupon code so they can read the first 7 chapters. Get contact info. Stay in touch. Chance favors the prepared mind.
I went to a local college, a couple coffee shops, and a bookstore, looking for anyone who might be working on a novel, or artistic endeavor. I found one. Well, I found a couple leads, but most of them didn’t seem excited about FTDB. I know my audience. I know where they are (when they actually go out in public), and I know how to talk to them. Artists are easy, you just ask them what they are doing and let them tell you about it. (there are exceptions, but generally showing interest in someone else’s work is a good way to open a conversation)
There’s nothing stopping you from combing over your potential audience, one person at a time, to find the right people. When you find someone who wants to talk about your book (or art, or music, or whatever) then they will likely have friends who are interested also. I love Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga. When she sent me a pre-read, she found a fan, and theres no telling how many people I’ve badgered about needing to buy her book at this point. I didn’t expect to become a fan, but I did, and here I am plugging her book again 😛 That’s the kind of fans you are after. One person who will tell everyone about your book is better than one anonymous sale, any day, and sometimes they are influencers too.
Keep them Happy
Everyone helping me with the FTDB project is on a special list on my computer. It’s an email list, to be sure, but it’s a very selective email list. These are the people that I will help with whatever when the time comes. Even if someone feels like you did them the favor by writing your book, check in on them from time to time to see if you can help them with something.
They went out and told all their friends about your book. If they have a crowd-funding thing, or a benefit concert, or whatever, you can help them spread the word a little bit. Find something cool they are doing, and retweet, repost, or whatever. Keep them happy.
I hope you enjoyed this post. All this stuff probably doesn’t look like marketing, because it isn’t a traditional method. But that one friend I made today also got me a speaking engagement (with the exact target audience of my book). There’s no telling how much your true fans will want to be a part of your story. Keep them close, and listen to their ideas. The rewards are grand.
Today, as a marketer, our task isn’t necessarily to “build a brand” or even to maintain a preexisting one. We’re better off building an army of immensely loyal and passionate users.