Have you written a great book, but it seems no one beyond your mother and your spouse is interested in it?
You may have one of two problems – or both of them:
1. Your book has wonderful information, or a compelling story, but it lacks a professional polish. If it’s not well organized or written with clear, precise language, it may be hard to read.
2. The people who might love your book aren’t aware it exists. Having a website (which is a must) isn’t enough. If you’re not actively engaged in driving people to it, they’re not likely to find it and learn about your book.
Fortunately, both problems have solutions.
First, the writing. If you didn’t have an extensive writing background before tackling your book, and you didn’t have help from a good, professional editor, that could be hurting you. You might want to consider hiring a ghostwriter to revise it.
Ghostwriters provide an array of services, from turning your two-sentence idea into a 150-page book, to sharing writing tasks with you, to editing and polishing what you’ve written. Many, many books being sold today were helped along by ghostwriters, although you’d never know it — their names often don’t show up anywhere on or in the book.
Entrepreneurs and professionals who plan to use their book as a marketing tool can simply hand the job over to the writer. A good ghostwriter can even give you smart suggestions for topics that will work well for you at any particular point in time. And the two of you can collaborate on the content.
Unfortunately, ghostwriting is not a licensed profession; anyone can advertise their services. So, when you’re looking to hire, do your homework. The best way to find a good ghostwriter is through referrals. But you can also find prospects at elance.com or guru.com. Ask about experience and check references. Ask their previous clients how satisfied they were with communications and their end product.
If you’re a professional who intends to elevate your stature – and, ultimately, build customer prospects – with your book, it’s important to hire someone with a strong track record in that area. If you’re a novelist looking for help refining your story, of course, you’ll want someone who has written novels.
For nonfiction books, expect to invest time in answering the writer’s questions. In order for him (or her) to do a great job, he needs to understand who your target audience is and what their needs, problems, concerns and fears are. Once he knows these, he can gather the information necessary to write with them in mind.
And that leads to problem No. 2, marketing. This is such a challenge for writers, I’m making it the focus of my presentation this weekend at the 2012 Northwest Bookfest in Seattle. (If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop in and see me at the EMSI booth!)
Too often, writers become so focused on getting their book written, they forget the critical second part of their job: telling people about it.
Some are so confident their book will take off after a few people have read it, they feel they don’t need to worry about marketing. That’s like buying a million-dollar house because you just know you’re going to hit the lottery. Yes, people win lottery jackpots. And yes, books become surprise best-sellers. But no, you shouldn’t bet the farm on either happening.
So while you’re thinking about the audience for your book, think about the marketing messages that will appeal to them. How can you reach them to let them know there’s a new book out there?
Consider these questions:
• What will be the best channels for reaching my audience? You might consider doing speaking engagements, or sending pitches to journalists and talk show hosts who would use you as a source of information. You might hire a publicist, contract with your publisher, or put together a book-signing tour. Research the options that appeal to you, including how effective they’ll be in terms of meeting your goals.
• How much will it cost? Some options are less expensive, others more. Look into the prices and decide how much you can afford to spend. How much of the work can you handle yourself? Even if you hire a publicist to help, you should plan to invest your own time and energy. To get the best results possible, being active and engaged in your marketing campaign is essential.
• Can social media help you spread the word? Actively posting and engaging in conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are a great way to build your visibility. The more of a following you have, the more potential audience you’ve created for your marketing message. But remember, “buy my book” posts won’t win you any followers; you need to provide informative and/or entertaining content related to your book.
Remember, it all starts with a well-written and professionally published book. Without a quality product, your marketing efforts are likely to fall flat.
Likewise, your book – no matter how beautiful and polished – won’t go far if people don’t know who YOU are.
See you at the Bookfest!