More about Marketing a Book

This is a follow-up to my recent “Start a Blog”! post that offered some practical advice about marketing a book.

Today’s post was sparked by a remarkable article about marketing written by  entrepreneur Kiri Masters. It’s both immensely disheartening and incredibly encouraging: How Content Marketing Changed My Life. (“Content marketing” is a sales technique that relies on sharing useful information rather than purchasing ads. Examples include blogs, newsletters, and instructional videos.)

A few years ago Kiri developed an innovative do-it-yourself kit for making custom lamps. She decided to use content marketing – informational videos that she created herself, along with a blog. The result was a successful business that eventually allowed her to quit her banking job.

Kir’s article offers both bad news and good news about marketing. Let’s do the bad news first. Kiri says the “downside of content marketing” is that “it takes major effort, and as such it generally takes a very long time to pay off.”

And here’s the good news: “there’s an enormous and growing hunger for more content.” She’s talking about crafts and do-it-yourself projects, but the principle applies to many other fields. If you have something useful or interesting to write about, there’s an excellent chance that readers (and book buyers!) are going to find you.

It all comes down to one piece of advice from Kiri Masters: “I think the critical thing is that you should enjoy creating content.” Amen, sister – amen. For about five years I’ve been using a blog, an online newsletter, and a growing collection of videos I made myself to market my book about police report writing. It’s been a long and sometimes discouraging process. At first I was barely making minimum wage from the books I sold.

What kept me going was that I was having fun. I started making connections with some marvelous people in the criminal justice field. The FBI asked me to write some articles for them. I did several consulting jobs. A police officer in Italy started sending me a calendar every year as a thank-you for my advice about writing reports. I was interviewed by an AP reporter.

And there was something else. Right from the beginning I treated my book marketing project as a game. How far could I get on a very, very low marketing budget? The answer: farther than I expected.

But what about those expenses? There really haven’t been many of them. For the first few years I paid only for setting up and hosting my blog. When my book started to sell, I added three more expenses:

  • several domain names
  • hosting my twice-monthly newsletter
  • video and photo-editing software

Luckily I love to write, and I revel in having my own business (even though it’s small enough to run from my dining-room table).

Could you do the same thing? Of course! And you might have advantages that I don’t have – business experience, an entrepreneurial personality, a wide circle of influential friends.

Think about it.

In my next post I’m going to talk about the personality traits I’ve seen in a large number of writers that determine whether you’re going to be successful…or unsuccessful.

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