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?|
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.
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
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:
|Interesting Person, Nora Roberts|
3. Interesting Events
|Mardi Gras in New |
Orleans is an
b. during a regatta
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?
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.
Thanks for sharing your expertise with us today, Vince. You hit us with thought-provoking suggestions.