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Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
I once heard a publishing executive say, “The best way for novelists to market their fiction is to write more fiction.” I completely disagree with this perspective, because it insinuates that the author should ignore marketing their original book. Writing more stories does not a marketing plan make.
In a crowded marketplace, a wise novelist takes steps to help their stories stand out from the others. Use these three tips to make selling your fiction a reality:
1. Enhance Your Author Website
Does your author website provide an environment for readers to emotionally experience your personality and the settings of your stories? Analyze your site to see if these elements are included:
a. Display captivating images – Utilize artwork from your book covers and other pictures to express the exotic aspects of your stories. Give glimpses of the world created by your story.
b. Write fascinating text – Become an “object of interest” to readers by describing your life and writings from a dramatic point of view. Avoid bland language. Instead, make an emotional connection with your website visitors. Get them to feel something. If your website is boring, some people will assume that your novel is boring.
c. Offer free content – Fiction lovers prefer author websites that provide free stuff, such as exclusive unpublished content, book explainers, tour updates, video trailers, author favorite lists, contests, and fan site listings. Does your website offer these elements?
2. Generate Effective Newsletters
You can use blogs, Twitter, and FaceBook to market your fiction. But, those are passive activities, because you’re hoping people will choose to actively follow you. Thus, they’re in control of the marketing process – not you. That’s why it’s important to balance your book marketing efforts with active methods – and one of the best is an opt-in newsletter.
“Opt-in” means people request you to stay in touch with them by giving you their contact information (either email or mailing address). Make your newsletter effective by keeping it reader-focused with articles, short stories, book previews, tour updates; latest news, etc. Write 80% of the total content to help or entertain the reader, then use the remaining 20% to promote your books. Do you send a regular newsletter? If so, is it reader-focused or all about you?
3. Connect Your Story to Current Events or a Cause
Sometimes, fiction can be easier to promote by taking a non-fiction approach. For instance:
a. Find the “thread of reality” in your story, and apply it to current events, social trends, unsolved mysteries, political situations, media headlines, etc. Every story revolves around a truth that most people can relate to. Use that truth to establish a basis of discussion about your novels.
b. Champion a cause that your main character deals with in the story, such as health issues, poverty, abuse, etc. Rally people around a cause, and many times, you can rally them around your book.
c. Ask yourself, “What would my central character look like in today’s world?” Use that answer to show changes in society that would make for interesting media interviews or articles that draw attention to your books. What are the non-fiction themes in your novel that you can use to create media hooks, magazine articles, or speaking engagements?
Marketing fiction doesn’t have to be difficult. But, you have to do more than just write another novel. The key to success is to consistently promote your current stories as you write new ones. Use these tips to make your dreams of selling more fiction a reality.
For a great example of how to market fiction effectively, check out the world-class website that my team built for New York Times bestselling novelist, Wanda Brunstetter.