Friday, January 28, 2011

IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING MARKETING INTO YOUR STORY


Vincent Mooney
Please welcome author, speaker, and teacher Vincent Mooney. Vince was trained to be a philosopher and high school history teacher. He wound-up teaching marketing and real estate at colleges and at his own real estate school. He also worked many years in advertising as a copywriter and editor. Vince has written over 100 three-hour real estate continuing education courses, a real estate manual and a real estate exam preparation book for a major publisher. He has conducted 3,000 three-hour workshops and has published many magazine articles. Vince has also been a speech writer and an award winning Toastmaster. Vince has sold comedy over the years and he has written over 1,000 romance novel reviews.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING "MARKETING VITAMINS" INTO YOUR STORY
Can you imagine a business that would spend a year or more developing a product without knowing if there was a market for it? And if there was a market for the product, can you imagine them not being concerned with whether or not their product would be competitive with other similar products?

Writers do this all the time. Many authors just write the ‘story of their heart’ and then hope it will sell. This is a shame because even an otherwise good book won’t sell if there is no market for it.


“But,” I can hear authors saying, “there is always a market for a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ story.” That may be true but then there is no shortage of ‘Marriage of Convenience’ stories both on the bookshelves and searching for a publisher.

Why Buy Your Book?
Ask yourself this: “Why is your book better? Why should a publisher risk their money on a story you wrote when they can buy a manuscript from an established author?”


Also consider this: an established author may already have an ‘installed base’ of loyal readers? (Note: it wouldn’t hurt a new author to have an established personal blog with hundreds of followers. This is called building a platform.)


“What have you added to your book that makes it more competitive and thus more marketable than other books that are like it?”


Did you even think of doing this when you were planning your book? Do you think that selling your book is the sole job of the publisher? In reality, promoting your book needs to begin before you write the first word.


THINGS AUTHORS CAN DO TO MAKE THEIR BOOKS MORE MARKETABLE

There are many things an author can do to make her novel more marketable. However, these things need to be added before the book is written.

Plot Outline & Marketing Plan

In addition to a ‘plot outline’, a serious author (serious about selling books) should also make a ‘marketing plan’. This plan shows what the author is adding to the story to make it more attractive to readers. I call these additions ‘marketing vitamins’!
Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Real Example: I recently read an historical romance which took place about 100 miles from Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. There was no reason why the book couldn’t have happened near or in the canyon.


As a marketing person, I would have loved to put a picture of the canyon on the cover of that book. Why? Millions of people have visited the canyon (about 300,000 a year). Palo Duro is second in size only to the Grand Canyon. There is also an outdoor play given at the park in the summer that has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors.
http://www.texas-show.com/home.html


All these visitors represent potential customers for that book. People who have been to Palo Duro will have a natural interest in the area. When a picture of the canyon appears on the cover, the book will often command the attention of those readers. Seeing the Palo Duro cover art gives potential readers an additional reason to select the book over other romances. More importantly: the cover art is only one of the ‘marketing vitamins’ the book could employ!


Learning to Think on the Margin.


Marketers often think on the ‘margin’. They know that small differences can spell big increases in sales. For example, all things being equal, if one blood pressure meter has a memory and the other does not, the one with the memory will probably sell instead of the other one. That is, of course, if the marketing people point out this advantage. Each extra benefit, on the margin, can help sell a book rather than another book. (When marginal elements become highly competitive, it is sometimes referred to as a ‘features war’.)


The Importance of Having the ‘Marginal’ Advantage


When a shopper is looking at several romances at Wal-Mart or in her favorite bookstore, and she can only afford to buy two books, a slight advantage may tip the purchase towards a given book. This is especially true when the shopper can’t make up her mind between several books. Now consider this: if the shopper has been to Palo Duro Canyon and enjoyed the experience, then the cover art might well be enough to determine her choice for that book.


This is why marketing people seek ‘vitamins’ for their products! They want to have the features which make their product better – even if it is only a little bit better! An author can greatly help her cause by adding ‘marketing vitamins’ to her story.


Examples of Marketing ‘Vitamins’. (Note: ‘vitamins’ that can appear on a book cover are particularly powerful.)

Vince and Linda Mooney at Machu Picchu,
interesting people, exotic location, Vince's
items 1 and 2
1. Locations of High Interest
a. famous locations
b. historical locations
c. exotic locations
d. hidden, secret locations
f. highly visited locations
g. state and national parks

(Example: see the new Mills and Boon “One Night in” series at:
http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/offer-main.asp?id=76 )



Interesting Person, Nora Roberts
 2. Interesting people
a. occupations
b. hobbies
c. sports
d. skills
f. backgrounds


3. Interesting Events
Mardi Gras in New
Orleans is an
interesting event
a. story takes place during Mardi Gras
b. during a regatta
c. Olympics
d. Renascence festivals
f. experimental aircraft fly-ins
g. trade shows
f. Rose Bowl parade
g. Civil War re-enactions

Beautiful Landscape, Utah: bit where are the
handsome guys and beautiful gals?
Items I Like to See On A Book Cover
a. dogs
b. lighthouses
c. sail boats
d. beautiful landscapes
e. beaches, lakes, oceans
f. famous landmarks (Ayres Rock)


The Basic Story Can Stay the Same

‘Marketing vitamins’ can be inserted into almost any story. The basic story need not change; however, sometimes trying to insert 'marketing vitamins' can lead to a better, more engaging plot. This is an added benefit of having a marketing plan.


Books that have strong marketing appeal have a better chance of being sold to a publisher.


Objections: But Don’t Reader’s Want To Read About People Like Them?

No! How many middle-aged, over-weight, heroines do you find in romances? People want to read about people they would like to be like: thin, attractive, younger, desirable, loved and appreciated. Romances particularly attract readers who seek enjoyable vicarious reading experiences.


"But I want to write about a normal woman who works in a roadside diner."


That’s fine, but do you also want to sell your book? If yes, then there are still many ‘vitamins’ you could use in this story.


Is the woman from another country? Is the diner near a national park or an Indian reservation? What kind of interesting people will be regulars at the diner? Does the woman hang-glide in the canyons? Is she a ‘rock hound’? Does she ride dune buggies? Does she aspire to be a nature photographer?


Actually, the same creative skills you use to write a romance can be used to create the ‘marketing plan’.


How Can I Find Out What is Popular?


Look at the covers of romances in book stores. See what themes repeat most often. Then look at the largest magazine displays you can find. What are the magazines about and what is shown on the covers? If there is a magazine dedicated to a topic, then there has to be significant interest in that topic.


What About My WIP?

If your ‘work’ is still in progress, there is still hope of making it more saleable. See where you can add ‘marketing vitamins’. If these additions make the book more interesting to read, it will also be more interesting to write.


Vince


Thanks for sharing your expertise with us today, Vince. You hit us with thought-provoking suggestions. 


25 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

Very informative blog, Adding "Vitamins" I will certianly remember that. Thank you so much

regards

Margaret

Celia Yeary said...

VINCE--ahhh, so you're married to Linda Mooney! I know her. No wonder you know so much about Texas.
I'll come back and read your blog again. You have so many good ideas and thoughts, I need to take a few notes.
Thanks, Caroline, for having Vince on--Celia

Vince said...

Hi Caroline:

Good Morning:

I just love the way you presented this post! And that picture of Palo Duro: I feel like I could fall into it!

I’ll be here all day if anyone wants to ask about this post or about adding ‘vitamins’ to their WIP.

I did direct marketing for years and we had a checklist that was over 500 items long on how to strengthen the impact of a direct mail piece! This same comprehensive approach can be applied to making any WIP more attractive to readers.

When you give your book a better chance to sell by making it more attractive to readers, you create a win/win situation.

I’m very interested in any ideas authors have about what ‘marketing vitamins’ they have planned their WIPs.


Vince

Caroline Clemmons said...

Vince, I love your suggestions. I wish I'd had your advice when I started writing romance novels! Better late than never.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Vince, I forgot to answer your question about my WIP. Texas is one, another is ranching, and it's a time travel. For the cozy mystery I'm writing, Elvis' pink Caddillac, eccentric people, and it's set in Texas. For an Oklahoman that might not seem like a draw LOL, but a lot of people do like Texas set books.

Vince said...

Hi Margaret:

Thanks for coming by. I noticed you have many books in print. Which of your books would you recommend that I read first to best appreciate what you do?

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Celia:

There are many Linda Mooney’s out there. Mine is pure Oklahoma, OU, Big Red. We have lots of family in Texas but I am not sure she is the Linda you know. But that would be nice.

I’m reading “Texas Promise” right now and I am just fascinated with the 1890’s time period. It is a time of discontinuities full of surprises for a reader. There are people riding horses, the first suggestions of automobiles, electricity, and even phones. When he was President, Grover Cleveland actually answered the White House phone himself! This is an inherently interesting transitional time period and I would have loved to ‘seen’ the transistion illustrated on the cover!

Vince

Tina Radcliffe said...

Another one of Vince's print and file workshops. This isn't a post, it's a workshop!

Thanks, Vince.

Vince said...

Hi Caroline:

I like Texas. A good Texas landscape will tempt me to pick up a book. I am reading “The Texan’s Irish Bride” now and I really like the way you set the situation. I like the location, the time period, the two nationalities, and the clash with the outsider’s way of life on top of everything else. I think the Irish Bride on the cover is powerful.

(BTW: I may be part of a new breed of reader: The eBook, channel hopper, reader. I have dozens of eBooks on my Kindle ready to read in seconds. This makes it very easy to switch between books at anytime and anywhere without carrying any books around. It also sets the stage for books to compete for interest with other books that the reader is currently reading. This is very important because if the reader does not finish your book, she may not buy another one {until she does read it!} This is an added reason to embed ‘marketing vitamins’.)

I also love time travel themes. I wrote one last year that I need to revise and layer in all the good stuff. I also have a time traveler in my current WIP who is a secondary character. He has Type I time disease and is in love with someone who has Type II time disease. Time travel is truly a wonderful theme for the creative writer.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

Thanks for coming by. After doing over 3,000 workshops, I tend to think in ‘workshop size bites’! : )

Vince

Bobbye Terry said...

Great post, Vince. Marketing vitamins, eh? Hmmm. Food for thought. I have a lot of books coming out this year, so I will make sure my covers draw the reader of nothing else.
Bobbye

Vince said...

Hi Bobbye:

Thanks for coming by. If you have many books coming out, you might want to think about the strategic release of those books.

Think of it as a fireworks show: you can have everything going off at once (or whenever) or you can plan a staged performance to command the skies for the fullest exposure.

Also think of this: The most powerful marketing force of a book signing is the publicity you can gain by announcing the signing. Maybe five to twenty people come to a book signing but with good PR you can expose your name, the title of your book, and hopefully your author ‘tag’ to hundreds of thousands of people!

The author who can release several books a year has an enormous marketing advantage if the releases are marketed wisely.

Good luck with your books.

Vince

Maeve said...

Excellent post filled with good information. Thanks, Vince and thanks Caroline for inviting such an interesting guest to blog. Very helpful stuff here!

Vince said...

Hi Maeve:

Thanks for your kind words.

Vince

Cherie De Sues said...

Love the marketing vitamins. I intend to infuse my WIP with some of the hints. I'm curious what you think about rubenesque (full-figured) woman romances? My latest book is doing well and it is about a curvy professional model. I think women appreciate a good romance with a woman who speaks to the millions of full-figured women.

Vince said...

Hi Cherie:

Some years ago a major publisher came out with a full figure heroine series. I don’t remember the line but I am sure others will. I thought at the time that it would fail because the readers had no need to escape by vicariously being ‘full figured’ for a few hours. It did fail. Romances don’t even seem to like a large bust size.

I have read only one romance in over 1,000 in which the heroine complained of having a large bust. It seems to be very important for the fantasy for the hero to love the heroine as she is with her normal size breasts. I have not read a romance yet where the heroine had a breast enlargement. This is so firm I would think that the editors are imposing this fact.

Romances are not mainstream. Mainstream writers, like Steinbeck, write about real people having real problems and readers read them to learn about what to do in given situations. Romances don’t provide this type of reality. I believe that a romance is all about how the reader ‘feels’ as she is reading the book. It’s all about the reading experience.

That being said: The World is Changing. Ebooks are going to change everything. With no printing costs, no inventory, no returns, and the ability to market books without physical delivery, readship ‘markets’ can be very small.

So a ‘full figured’ heroine has a chance to be successful today. I even think I know how to go about doing it.

The heroine would have to be clever, pretty, and have natural sex appeal. She would have to be someone others would admire and respect. In short, she would have to be someone a reader would like to spend a few hours in her body. She should go to nice places and meet interesting people. And most of all, it would really help if the Alpha males found her irresistible. “What is it about you Sophia? You drive me wild.” Of course, she needs beautiful hair and great eyes. I would like to see her play Jazz with the best of the Blues men. I like her already myself. : )

If ever there was a time to write this type of heroine, now is the time to try. Think of it this way: the heroine is a great character who happens to be full figured and not just a full figured heroine.

Good luck and thanks for coming by.

Vince

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I like his ideas and concepts of showing your 'difference' on the covers. It's a shame we don't have much input or that the art people don't listen when we do. I've always heard it's a crap shoot.

I love the idea of putting in places on interest or having a special event to highlight the story. :)

Vince said...

Hi Paisley:

Thanks for coming by.

I’ve worked with all kinds of art departments. Many do not think writers know anything about art. But art departments are a very mixed bag.

Some ‘artists’ are graphic people who cannot do original art. Some have to use existing art or stock art. Still others may only have half a day to do a cover and their major concern is just getting the assignment done before they go home. Some lines have a ‘look’ that has to be kept and you can’t change it. So the art department is not always at fault.

I would suggest that if you put marketing elements into your story, then you should write a marketing plan for the cover art.

For example: please show artwork of Palo Duro Canyon because there are over 3,000,000 prospects for this book who have visited that location. Please show the Cessna 150 because there are over 10,000,000 flying enthusiasts who could be attracted to the story. Please show the heroine on her horse with the Great Dane nearby. Horses and dogs increase sales of the books for which they are featured in the story and on the cover.

That’s the idea. Talk marketing to them. An artist still might not care but sometimes the head of the marketing department is a copywriter and he or she will listen to sound marketing ideas.

BTW: The blurb should also mention the marketing vitamins.

I wish you well on all your future covers.

Vince

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thank you, Vince. Great idea. I write stories where gold was discovered in Placerville (Hangtown) so there should be lots of vitamins around here. I love the history that we live in and use it as spice in my stories.

Appreciate your advice. :)

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great blog. Thanks for some ah-ha!

Vince said...

Hi Brenda:

Thanks for coming by. I’ll be in the area this weekend if there are any more comments or questions.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi All:

I've enjoyed this time with you and I'll be in the area this weekend if there are any more comments or questions.

Vince

Beth Trissel said...

What an interesting post, so many good ideas to ponder in here. Thanks Vince and Caroline.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

These are great tips, thanks for sharing! I'll have to see how I can apply them to my WIP.

P.L. Parker said...

Very interesting, thank you.