As an indie author, you cannot succeed without a marketing campaign. At its core, marketing is nothing more than telling a story. It’s just applied in a different context. Here are the 5 steps you already use to captivate your readers that you can use to build your most successful campaign yet.
1. Meet them where they are.
If you can’t make your presence and relevance known, readers will neither find your book nor have a reason to read it. There are tons of readers out there who’d love your book. But capturing their interest means three things:
a. Picking an influential target audience
b. Understanding the problems or challenges of that audience
c. Providing a solution to those problems or challenges
My friend Tom, CEO of Immagix Media, recently came to me for help spreading the word about his adventure TV series, The Treasure Chronicles. The problem: The need for adventure. The solution: The Treasure Chronicles. The influential target audience: Geocachers.
Geocaching exists throughout the country and online. People who participate bring friends and family on their adventures. If they were to stumble upon, let’s say, a rare, gold Treasure Chronicles geocoin (one of “only 100 in the world”) in their next cache, it’s only a matter of time before they tell all their friends about their treasure.
Scout out a group that has potential for viral influence. An audience that can’t help but share this story with their friends, family, followers, or anyone who would listen. Find out why they need your book, and show them how your book will satisfy those needs.
2. Make them believe in your world.
This means creating high expectations. Once readers expect something of you, they’ll trust you to deliver the story of their dreams. If you don’t, they’ll be disappointed. If you do, they’ll love you.
Creating high expectations requires you to:
a. Be at least as excited about your book as you want your readers to be.
b. Convey this excitement to your influential target audience.
c. Get them to believe before they see.
The more faith someone has in your novel, the more satisfying it will be when he or she finally opens the book. And the more faith you have in your novel, the more you and your promoters will enjoy watching your campaign unfold. Believe in your work!
3. Invite them into the in-crowd.
In A Series of Unfortunate Events, children’s author Daniel Handler (under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket) warned young readers well into his novels to quit reading because the rest of the story was “very unpleasant.” Anyone who continued reading suddenly felt a little braver. (In that series alone, Mr. Snicket sold over 60 million copies.)
Handler’s storytelling methods translated into his interactions with the press, helping to make him one of the most famous children’s authors of our time. In-crowding certain influential persons in the media conveyed to them: “Only the brave will read this email.” “Only the most unorthodox reporter will put this story in the press.” How could they not accept this challenge?
Creating an in-crowd lets you acquire invested followers who will do the advertising for you. Why? It affirms their uniqueness and value, something they’ll want everyone to know about — along with your novel.
4. Keep them immersed in your world.
If you want your campaign to crash and burn, give everyone easy, immediate access to your story. They’ll be bombarded with information, maybe read some of it, and might appreciate the idea behind your book. But they won’t give you money for it.
But if you want to succeed, provide them with just enough information to feel like they’d miss out if they didn’t learn more. Provide a small window of time to opt in before they miss their opportunity forever. Leak bits of juicy information about what’s happening in your world — and don’t spoil the ending before its time. Give them opportunities to invest more than “everybody else” and win more exclusive access to your world.
5. Invite them back.
Even after your book release, keep in touch with readers — no matter how successful your launch. Strike up discussions on social media, blogs, or forums. Then tell them what everyone’s saying about the novel. Foreshadow your next venture (or how “top-secret” it is if you don’t know yet). And thank them profusely for their support and feedback along the way.
Your readers are crucial characters in your success story. Meet them where they are, but invite them on an adventure they can’t refuse. Set high expectations and exceed them. And you can bet they’ll be back for the sequel.
Meg Baatz is at Mad Hatter Agency, a creative marketing group in Denver that helps creative share their innovative ideas with the world. In her free time, she enjoys munching on psychological thrillers, mystery novels, and classics in theology and literature. You can learn more about Meg on her blog.