Do you buy that?

A reader’s perspective of selling yourself

I took a marketing class in college. I wasn’t really interested in marketing but it was offered in my department and I needed the credits so what the heck right? It was one of those classes where I was expecting to learn how to make cool flyers for events but I actually learned something about what marketing really is. It’s definitely not flyers!! In fact, if I remember correctly flyers would be considered advertising- a subset of marketing. No, marketing is about the 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotional Strategy.

So why would I be boring you with a college lecture lesson? Well, marketing sucks! And I say that with the utmost respect!! I mean it takes a serious talent and a lot of skill to market correctly. I mean take me for instance. I am trying to market myself in a way. I have an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bike ride this summer that is 545 miles long, traveling from San Fracisco to Los Angeles over the course of 7 days. You may have read about it in Susan X Meagher’s I Found my Heart in San Francisco series. Well, in order to ride in this amazingly awesome bike ride that is benefiting thousands of people by supporting programs for the Los Angeles LGBT Center (check it out here) I have to raise, at a minimum, $3000(my goal is $5000). Try doing that when you are an introvert!!

But back to the issue at hand here. I am marketing myself. I am the Product (the first P) as the crazy woman who is willing to sacrifice feeling in my nether regions for a whole week by doing all the physical work of peddling my bike down the California coast.  How do I determine the price? Do I say it is my personal goal of raising $5000 for this organization? Or do I angle it to be, it doesn’t cost anything to donate? Which technically is true. It’s not like anyone has to pay to use the website where donations are made. The website is actually free, it’s just the donation itself that costs money. But everyone likes free right? I mean I love when authors offer up a book for free, or when I participate in a contest and win a free book. I mean that is how I discovered Karis Walsh- I won a copy of Harmony and Improvisation. I also found Chris Paynter when I entered a contest and won Survived by Her Longtime Companion. And if you haven’t read these three books, they are worth the purchase! So, there’s my price- It’s FREE to donate!

Now I need a place. Would that be considered the starting and ending points? No. It’s supposed to be a distribution channel. Somewhere potential donors might see me, the product, and go- HEY! I want to donate to her ride and change people’s lives for the better! Check out the column to the far right. Go on. Look to the right. Yep! That’s me! The product leaning up against my trusty transportation for this adventure! AND, this place is only costing me $5 a month! Not a bad deal. Isn’t there some saying that you have to spend money to make money? Well, I don’t want to make money- I just want to make donations happen. Is that the same thing? At this point, I don’t mind if you stop reading and check out how awesome the IDEA behind the picture is (thank you Jove for helping me make it!). But don’t really check out the picture because that makes me sound vain! Just think about the idea. AND if you run your cursor over the picture and click on it, it will take you directly to my donation page!! How cool is that? In fact any of the advertisements listed over there on the right side are only a click away!

That just leaves my promotional strategy. To be honest, I have no clue what this means in regards to my mini marketing project. Could it be the advertisement? Or how to attract the customer? Sort of like having a book cover that you just can’t take your eyes off of like Selina Rosen’s Hammer Town. Admit it, you want to at least flip the book over and read the blurb. Does that mean that the picture is MY promotional strategy? Are you wanting to click on it and read more about it? Or maybe promotional strategy is the book title. Something catchy or funny or both (I’m thinking of IceHole by Kiera Dellacroix. Say it out loud to someone and you’ll know what I’m talking about!) that makes you, again, want to flip the book over and at least read the back blurb. Do I give enough information on my ad? Is it enticing enough for people to want to click on the picture and see what’s up?

So yeah. Marketing sucks! It is so complicated and thought provoking and I’m so jealous of all those talented people who can master marketing! And in our little niche market of lesfic, I’m wondering if marketing can make or break an author? I know I’m introverted, and I’m sure many of the authors out there are introverted so how do they put themselves out there and be successful with it? How can we support them when we are on a book-budget imposed by our wives? Tell me your thoughts on finding and purchasing books. What do you use to make your selection? Book reviews? Peer recommendations? Trust from having read the author previously? Covers? Oh and please, please, please share covers that have caught your eye for any reason and let me know why?! As always, thanks for reading and supporting our amazing lesfic authors.

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13 thoughts on “Do you buy that?

  1. Covers rarely do it for me. A notable exception is The Tea Machine. That cover intrigued me immediately. I’ve found authors I love by winning their books. One author I found because she was frequently acknowledged by others- yes, I usually read the acknowledgements. I have a list of authors whose books I will buy regardless of the blurb or the cover. Some authors I discover because I enjoy their public persona on FB. If they post interesting, thoughtful, or funny things or have a well-written blog, them I’m likely to want to pick up their books.

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    1. Ann I love reading the acknowledgments as well! Everything cover to cover gets read. I like to see who the editor is, the cover designer, about the author and all the acknowledgments. I think it actually adds to the story. Ok, and I just looked at The Tea Machine and there is a lot of detail there! Definitely had me clicking the link to read more about it! Thanks for reading!!

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  2. Great blog. I buy books based on recommendations from others and if I know the author. I do buy your books and love the SF series. I also like to support new authors so I will often buy a new author’s book to check them out. Right now money is not the issue for me, it is now the amount of work at night editing, proofing and beta reading thas kept me from my love of reading those new books. I have a very long cue waiting for me to consume! Getting out there is indeed hard for introverts. I can completely empathize and it is even more difficult when you aren’t well known. Fortunately you are well known in lesfic.

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    1. Annette that is so sweet! Thank you!! I’m all over sales when I see them so I have a huge stack of books to read. I do wish I could have a week of vacation just to read!! And my wish list is totally out of control right now!! Thanks for always reading

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  3. I had to take a few marketing classes in order to earn my Finance degree. I thought they’d be easy classes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I just don’t have a brain for marketing.
    As I’ve told several prospective employers during job interviews, for about half of my career 100% of my compensation came from commission. Writers can certainly relate. Despite being mostly an extrovert, I suck at selling. Except when I really believe in the product.
    When I was in high school I used to have to do door to door fundraiser sales of flowers, candy bars, etc. I totally sucked at it. My sister was fantastic. She has the “ice to eskimos” gene. I don’t. But perhaps if I had realized then that I wasn’t selling flowers or candy bars, I was selling the dream of winning a prestigious band contest, I would have been better at it.
    In this case, you aren’t the product. The product is AIDS relief. And that’s a product I can support, and I’m sure others can as well. That’s the key for me. And for me, once I’m passionate about the product, it sells itself. I’m no longer afraid to share, post, and beg my family, friends and social media circle to buy the product I’m selling.
    I hope this helps. It’s an awesome article. And I’m clicking “donate” in 30 seconds or less 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darla you are so awesome!! Thank you! I really like your take on the product and I think that is much clearer and focused. I do believe in the product and would much rather sell “END AIDS” than to try to sell me! 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

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  4. Erin,
    Thank you for mentioning Survived by Her Longtime Companion! I enjoyed your blog. I love the free giveaways I do with each of my releases. It’s a nice way to introduce a new reader to my work. 🙂

    Chris

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  5. You had me at “Icehole”. Lol. I will be clicking on your donate page as soon as I finish this comment.

    Erin, I look forward to your blogs every week. You sell yourself in your thoughtful commentaries about the books our Lesfic authors are not always brave enough to promote for themselves.

    As for what sends me to the “one-click” buy option on Amazon or to the Bella and Ylva websites when our Canadian dollar improves? Definitely peer reviews and recommendations are a factor. I rely on my Goodreads friends to know what books will grab my interest. Authors whose books I have loved before are pretty much automatic buys, ( yes I am fortunate to be financially able to indulge in my favourite genre) and occasionally covers will grab my interest and beg for a read.
    I don’t have the technical chops to add a cover photo but one book that grabbed my attention was Cast Me Gently by Caren J Werlinger. I have several of her books on my Kindle but had not got around to reading them. When I saw this gorgeous cover I was hooked and rewarded with a wonderful read to go along with the attractive cover.

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    1. Canuckeh thank you! You are amazing!!

      I went to find the cover of Cast Me Gently and, yeah, it had me turning the cover over to read the blog. The cover is gorgeous! It will be going on my wish list for sure! Thanks for reading!!

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  6. Is there a way to donate to your $5000 goal. If I click on the link above it goes to LGBT Center’s donate page. How do I make sure it goes toward your goal??

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  7. Everybody, DONATE TO ERIN! It’s a great cause and a fabulous project and she’s an all-around go-getter!

    There. That’s some promo for you, Erin. 🙂 The best thing is, it’s TOTES TRUE.

    And thanks for bringing this up. I think what many readers don’t realize — and many authors who are just starting out — is that promo and marketing are going to be at least half an author’s time if not more. I spend over half my time doing things that deal with promo and marketing. Some weeks I spend ALL my time doing that, which of course takes away from writing. And writing is, of course, part of marketing. Every new project an author publishes is basically another advertisement for that author’s work. In fact, I started marketing my first book a good 8 months before it was actually published.

    So if you’re a new author who has a book coming out in the next year, start marketing NOW. If you’re an author interested in publishing a book in the future but it’s not ready now, start researching how to do effective marketing NOW. Especially if you’re self-published. But even if you’re traditionally published, most small houses can’t do much for you and simply don’t anymore in terms of marketing and promo. Authors are thus tasked with the brunt of that, too.

    And marketing strategies, of course, is a whole other blog! lol

    Thanks, Erin!

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