Want to meet your Marketing Voice? Check out my guest post!

Know Your Messenger!
Click here to read my post on Sacha Black’s awesome blog!

Have you been reading my book, The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy?

Whether you have or haven’t, here’s a little supplement to get you ready to develop your marketing messages: Figure out who your messenger is! Visit www.SachaBlack.co.uk to find out more. That content is exclusively available there. (That’s right! It’s not even available in the book!) If you want to see everything else, check out my book on Amazon! (Amazon UK, here)

My First Book! Write Your Marketing Strategy

This won’t be the last time you hear about my brand new book, The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy.

It’s written with the aspiring author in mind, who is so focused on writing her debut book (fiction or nonfiction) that by the time she’s ready to self-publish she doesn’t have a marketing strategy in place.

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy by C.T. Luna

It is now available on Amazon for USD $6.99, but if you’re willing to give it an honest review, I’m happy to share a review copy with you. (Just send me an email at cynthia[at]livingincyn[dot]com and I’ll make sure to get a review copy in your hands.) Continue reading “My First Book! Write Your Marketing Strategy”

How to Write a Marketing Strategy You and Your Readers Will Love (Part 4)

Once you’ve gotten a bird’s eye view of your digital presence, established your goals, and defined your audience, you are ready to write a marketing strategy that will not only help you connect with your reader, but will also boost your marketing confidence.

In this stage of pulling together your marketing strategy, you’ll be crafting your marketing message, while staying true to your voice (messenger) and leveraging the communications channels (messenger) you have at your disposal–these channels would be the social media outlets you defined in my earlier blog post, “Marketing 101: Aspiring Authors! Take Inventory Before Your Book Is Published“.

Write a Marketing Strategy You n Your Readers Will Love | LivinginCyn.com | Cynthia T. Luna

This post is for you, writers who are working on a story or a series, who intend to publish and potentially sell your work for public consumption. If you are like me and have no products for sale (yet!), or if you just completed a work, and are now working on getting it out there, I hope you will find this blog post helpful. If so, go ahead and drop me a line in the comments section below or share through your social media!

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy by C.T. Luna[Editor’s note: The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy is finally complete and available on Amazon! If you’re interested in reviewing my book, email me directly and I’d be happy to give you a free review copy.]

When I had just completed my work of fiction, I had a really hard time getting my marketing strategy set up. The writing process of creating messages and establishing messengers, I felt, was so much more structured, less free-form. I wanted to skip the very steps of taking inventory, determining my goals and defining my audience you have gone through so far.

I’m the kind of writer who needs to go through a full costume change in order to change writing styles. When I’m writing non-fiction or thinking about marketing, I am very much a plotter. I need to outline all the steps and walk my way through a strategy. When I’m writing fiction, I am more of a pantser—still, I am learning that I need to leverage my outlining skills more there, too.

Write a Marketing Strategy with One Rule of Thumb.

Tactics change strategy is evergreen. Write a Marketing Strategy Your Readers Will Love | LivinginCyn.com | Cynthia T. Luna

Message + Messenger = Marketing Strategy

Marketers like to say this least of all, because it is so beautifully simple, but every marketing strategy hinges on the same two elements:

  1. Message
  2. Messenger

And both of those elements need to work together with the distribution channels (messenger) you identified for yourself in the first exercise to help you meet your goals.

Talking Points and Tactics Change; Strategy and Message Are Evergreen

Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s really important to be clear that, ultimately, that’s all a marketing strategy is: Message+Messenger. Because of this beautiful simplicity, marketing strategies really don’t need to change. Your tactics may change and evolve. New tactical ideas will replace old ones, but the core strategy, will remain the same over the course of the campaign. So, unless there’s a drastic change that results in the loss of relevance for either your message or messenger, you won’t be tinkering with your strategy.

An epistolary approach to write your marketing strategy | LivinginCyn.com | Cynthia T. Luna

Write a marketing strategy by writing a letter

Given that you most recently defined your target reader; and because you are a writer, one way to establish the message for your previously defined reader is to write a letter to him or her.

Write a letter to your primary reader as if you just received an update that he is frustrated with a situation, and to inform him that your book is one solution (and can be among a collection of solutions) towards diminishing this problem that he’s dealing with. What’s helpful for me is actually telling the recipient of your letter that you hear and understand the challenges he or she is faced with and echoing that information back to him or her.

Dear Daddy Worrywart,

I ran into Carol at the grocery store on Saturday, and she told me you are having a difficult time finding intelligent, age-appropriate science-fiction literature for you to read with your sons before bedtime. Remember the days of Roald Dahl and…?

Or

Dear Kash-strapped Kelly,

It was so great to catch up with you and meet your husband at our 20-year reunion last weekend. I’m sorry to hear that things have been so nuts for you that you needed to apply for a second mortgage on your house. I may have some ideas for you two with my latest eBook on …

In the second part of your letter, go ahead and rationally respond to the objections that you suspect this target reader would have about your book. (If you have absolutely no concerns that your potential buyer would have objections—get creative. Just pick one.)

Daddy Worrywart (cont’d):

… If you enjoy reading with your kids as a bonding activity, you might prefer to have a paper copy of this book. If you order the paperback on Amazon and send me your Amazon receipt by email, I will personally send you an ebook so you can start reading “Scales of a Wizard” to your sons while you wait for the hardcopy to be delivered to your door.

Kash-strapped Kelly (cont’d):

… Obviously, money is a big concern for all of us. My e-Book is priced at X.XX, which is a fraction compared to the three-figure saving you can enjoy in the first week. There is also a money-back guarantee…

Don’t forget to sign off with a CTA

Close your very personal letter off with a clear call to action. Maybe it’s for the reader to add his name to your list, so he can get the book for free. Maybe it’s simply to buy the book at some e-tailer. Maybe it’s to attend an event where you will be leading a seminar helping people get past their frustrations or challenge in a particular area. Whatever it is, make sure you have a clear Call to Action (or CTA in marketing babble).

write your marketing strategy marketing funnel | LivinginCyn.com | Cynthia T. Luna

The letter you have just written is commonly known as the “Funnel of Awareness”. In the world of marketing this funnel goes by a wide variety of names, including “Sales Funnel”, “Marketing Funnel”, and “Purchase Funnel” to name a few. In broad brush strokes, the funnel (your message) consists of four parts:

  • Awareness – Your reader is aware that you/ your book exists.
  • Interest – Your reader is interested in the content matter of your book, or your philosophy.
  • Desire – Your reader’s desire to be entertained, enriched or enlightened by you and your content matter has been piqued.
  • Action – Your reader knows what he or she has to do to fulfill that desire. (Buy your book, subscribe to your mailing list, write a review, visit your blog, etc.)

Fiction writers! Here’s a twist to the letter writing idea.

I can see fiction writers shaking their heads. Fiction writers don’t want to be tasked with writing sales pitches–they want to write stories. (“I write fantasy, Cynthia, with goblins and goons and dystopian futures. Your letter-writing idea is stupid.”)

Trust me, when I say, I hear you—because this was just the sort of exercise that I refused to do for myself when I just completed my work of fiction. But hear me out, for just a minute.

Imagine you were a secondary character in your work of fiction, and you met a potential reader—someone who is reading another similar work that your story was inspired by. Now imagine what that reader’s frustration or problem would be. And write him that “I’m here to warn you of an adventure that is in store for [hero of your story] as he saves the day from goblins, goons and dystopian futures.” Maybe you can make a reference to your Inspiring Author or one of their famous characters, or maybe one of their characters can write a letter to your main character…

Dear Robert Langdon,

The so-called holy grail you claim to have discovered? It was one of the Templars’ many red-herrings. Professor Agnes Fullner of Oxbridge University has a theory that the legendary chalice made its way to the Pacific islands…

The above example was completely rattled off the top of my head as if I were an aspiring author of an action thriller story that may be interesting to fans of bestselling author Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”. (Robert Langdon is the Harvard University professor, symbologist and main character in Brown’s book who ends up on the quest for the holy grail.) In this make-believe example, I wrote as if I were a supporting character to “Agnes Fullner” the fictional protagonist and professor in my make-believe book, and I provided my target reader with a few clues about what to expect in my story:

  • It’s an action thriller that continues the age-old quest for the holy grail.
  • The novel might appeal to fans of Dan Brown, a bestselling author who also writes action thriller with historical references.
  • My story has a twist in that it takes the reader and the quest for the holy grail to the Pacific Islands. The twist could address a so-called “frustration” among your target readers that all quests for the holy grail begin and end in Europe—but what if the journey of the holy grail extended as far and wide as Christianity itself?

The following example is written by the main character of my (yet to be published) book to the husband of Bridget Jones—the lovable protagonist in Helen Fielding’s bestselling novel. The genre of my book is “chick lit”, with some romantic intrigue, but also with an espionage and international mystery twist!

Dear Mr. Darcy,

What an honor to be contacted by you, world-renowned lawyer and humanitarian extraordinaire! My team and I would be thrilled to provide intelligence-gathering in the guise of PR services for your firm. We also have some actionable ideas so Daniel Cleaver will never be the wiser. Mrs. Bridget Jones-Darcy would approve!

We so look forward to ironing out the details in person next week.

Yours discreetly,

Sidney St. Claire

You’ll note that these letters don’t have a call to action. Their focus remains in the awareness-, interest- and desire-raising elements of your appeal. This is definitely a soft sell, one in which I think many fiction writers are comfortable.

The point of writing these letters is to:

1) Grow accustomed to tailoring your messages specifically for your target readers.

2) Recall what your readers’ interests are and relate directly to those. Note the reference to main characters in the books written by the Inspiring Authors you identified previously? Your readers are reading their works, so you both “know the same characters”.

3) Drop hints about your book and what it’s about without getting into a detailed info-dump. Fans of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” won’t need an explanation of the names dropped in your letter. Dan Brown fans won’t need for you to explain who Robert Langdon is—but they might be intrigued to find out more about Professor Agnes Fullner.

About your messenger

Don't you hate it when? Marketing strategy | LivinginCyn.com | Cynthia T. Luna

This brings me to my point about messenger. When you’re developing your marketing strategy, one of the main differences you’ll find is as follows: With non-fiction works, it’s most likely that you, the author (we can start calling you this now), are the expert on “financial planning for dolls and action figures” or whatever your book sets out to do.

With fiction, you have a lot more room in defining your messenger. Your strategy can have several messengers for your messages—but you might want to limit yourself to no more than three to begin with. For example, your messages can be delivered through the voice of the author directly. Helen Fielding, for example, might be interviewed about her plans to write a third and final book for Bridget Jones. Or JK Rowling, expert on Harry Potter and Hogwarts, might write a blog post about what she thinks about the fan sport, Quidditch. But your characters can also be messengers of your messages.

With fiction, you can also allow your imagination to run wild as far as your messaging is concerned.

Don’t you hate it when? … Write your marketing strategy by airing your frustrations

Specifically, you might identify several frustrations that your reader experiences as far as fiction is concerned. I’ll mention a few that includes not only to the contents of your story, but also the packaging, delivery and other external qualities of your novel. Here’s a list (I made mine start with “Don’t you hate it when?”, feel free to brainstorm others and send them my way):

… The guy doesn’t get the girl?

… The hero has to give back the hidden treasure?

… The book ends on a cliffhanger and you have to wait another year until the next issue in the series is out?

… The villain is caught?

… The lovable sidekick dies?

… The cover image doesn’t match up with the inside?

… A book includes/doesn’t include a glossary of terms?

Why are determining your Message and Messenger so important? 

Your message is your point of reference when you are faced with a tactical decision. This way, you can assess if a tactical idea is a good fit for you.

Second, your message and messenger are unique to your product and its campaign. (In fact, that’s one of the big reasons why it has an evergreen quality to it.)

Let’s say, for instance, that your message focuses on solving your readers’ problem of “not enough quality fantasy books with a graphical element to them”. Your messenger is not only a character in your story in the form of a book, it can also be the images that relate directly to the story. You might have an excellent blog named after the hero in your novel, and it includes your sketches of terrain he crossed, or villains that could tear his exploration team to shreds, vital statistics, and other visuals that you developed along with your book. You could make the blog seem like a diary or a trusty handbook that the main character refers to.

You do this, because you know that your readers’ main frustration is that they want more access to the inner workings of your fantasy planet. You know that your message (based on your letter to them), was that your story, and the blog that you maintain along with it, are one answer to this problem. And you can end your letter with a clear CTA that they should sign up for email updates every time you load a new picture to the blog (for example).

Mind you, I’m not telling you to go and produce loads of backstory content for your readers. I am just saying that if it’s already a part of what you do—you might have enough content to produce a significant buzz and excitement for your work before your book is out (and it’s enough to keep the momentum going after your book is out).

Every writer has experienced the pain of having to edit huge chunks of their work out of their story, because it came across as an information dump. Now that well-written, well-honed prologue can have a home on your blog as a “deleted scene”. You may or may not wish to include with a preamble. These are just a few ideas of the wide-range of “messengers” you can include in your marketing strategy.

So, your marketing strategy could be to “offer readers full access to the complete creative process”. And while your primary tactic might be to post the occasional sketch to your blog, you might also decide that Pinterest or Instagram are excellent places for you to quickly connect and dialogue with readers who also love drawing. You might also decide that you will create an exclusive portal for only those readers who submit their sketches to you. Perhaps at a later point down the road—after your book has been published—you might hold a sketch competition or sweepstakes.

Coming Full Circle

The big takeaway here is when you have established your Message and Messenger, you have completed the circle on developing a Marketing Strategy.

Now, you are equipped with a full inventory of your digital assets, a clear goal, a primary target audience and a strategic message.

Armed with a checklist in the form of a marketing strategy, you can develop your marketing tactics

Write Marketing Strategy You n Your Readers Will Love Map | Livingincyn.com | Cynthia T. Luna

You can refer to these four categories to determine if a tactical idea is for you.

Let’s say you are working on a non-fiction book about cemetery design and a friend on Facebook tells you that Morticia Addams ended up on the New York Times Bestseller list and made millions by sharing pictures and posts through her Tumblr page.

You can go read through your strategy to see if your friend’s suggestion really makes sense for you.

1) Inventory: Do I have a Tumblr account? Do I have another digital asset that could be viewed and visited by lots of people?

Your Answer: No Tumblr account. I might be able to do something similar through my Facebook page though. 

2) Goal (let’s say it’s to gather email addresses to build up an author platform). Would Facebook make sense for building my author platform? Could I work out this idea by sending people to my website where I have a sign-up page?

Your Answer: Facebook is pretty cumbersome when it comes to gathering email addresses. In the end, Facebook owns the activity that takes place on Facebook, not me. This might still be an appealing idea if I could get traffic to my website. 

3) Audience: Do my readers even hang out on Tumblr?

Your Answer: No. The world of cemetery designers is a niche market. Most of the folks there are older and hang out on Pinterest. Some of them connect via Facebook and Twitter. 

4) Message: My book addresses the need for a more modern take on cemetery design. My readers and my book are of the mind that “when it comes to foliage, less is more”.

Your Answer: Though I hadn’t thought of Pinterest as a possible tactic for getting people to connect with my blog, I think I could still attract interest with branded photography and consistent tips in cemetery design. 

Know that your marketing strategy ultimately works for you, because it pulls together your unique blend of interests, knowledge and energy. Because you designed it yourself, you’ll also find that it’ll become increasingly easy to know which fancy tactical ideas make sense for you today, and which ones might work better for another book or at another stage in your life.

I wrote and shared my process for setting a Marketing Strategy with you in (almost) real time

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Marketing Strategy, by Cynthia T. Luna - BLOG COVERAt the time of writing this blog post, I have no published work for sale on the market. While writing these posts which make up the bulk of my non-fiction business ebook, I have backburnered editing the first draft of a novel I want to launch in the Spring of 2016. (Perhaps I’m being a bit too ambitious.)

Still, that hasn’t kept me from getting the marketing groundwork primed. Feel free to join me on my book-writing and marketing journey. If you have any thoughts, tips or comments in general, please let me know via comment, Twitter @cynthiatluna or email at cynthia[at]livingincyn[dot]com!

Bloggers Commenting BackIf you are already a published author, any comments you have to impart on your experience(s) will be gobbled up and appreciated by the rest of us. Let me know if you think a “karmic exchange” from aspiring author to another aspiring author, or aspiring author to accomplished author might be worthwhile! 🙂

I hope this exercise was helpful for you to establish your strategic message. You might not be finished with your book, but you now know what platforms make the most sense for you to develop and which ones can stay where they are (in someone else’s marketing strategy).

Marketing 101: Aspiring Authors! Avoid Scammy Marketing Tactics. Define Your Readers

This blog post is part of a series for aspiring authors who are in the process of writing a book, know they will have a book in the near-ish future, and are wondering how they can get their author platform started. While you may simply begin here to develop a strategic approach, you might find it helpful to read my earlier blog posts about taking stock of your digital assets or establishing your goals first.

Without further ado, let’s move onward with setting strategic goals for building an author platform before your novel is out!

If You Know Whom You’re Selling To, Marketing Does Not Have To Be Scammy

I think it’s worth taking a moment at this point to touch upon an issue that anybody who has created a product for sale butts up against: the concern that they are the annoying, scammy, sleaze ball sales guy who speaks of nothing other than the “product of the century”—or worse, the lack of concern!

Marketing does not have to be slimy. Appeal to your audience. via @CynthiaTLuna | LivinginCyn.com

We all know the feeling of being that customer locked in the crosshairs of a desperate sales guy. Usually, when marketing messages revolve around me, my product/ my book/ my method, you’ll notice that your sales pitch falls flat.

You’ve become that guy who hasn’t yet realised his date has walked out the back door, never to return.

It doesn’t have to be that way, if you approach marketing with an understanding of the relationship you want to develop with your audience(s), you are shifting away from a one-way (beg-and-be-ignored) communications model, to a  two-way model. You are now able to communicate from a place of passionate enthusiasm with others who are also passionate and enthusiastic too. Your stand is the one at the market that’s responding to shoppers’ curiosity, questions, needs and wants. No need for scammy bait and switch tactics, you’re making yourself available for a dialogue. You’re throwing a party that even you want to party in too.

Who Are Your Readers? Define Your Audience

No marketing strategy can be developed without this step. It is absolutely imperative that you narrow down your audience, know your readers.

“But my masterpiece will benefit everyone! This work is for the general public!”

When was the last time you defined yourself as “general public”? Unless you consider yourself absolutely unoriginal and completely bland, my guess is that you have never referred to yourself in this way. Members of the general public don’t refer to themselves in this way, either—so, if you’re gearing up to offer them anything, your product, your service, your masterpiece, you’re best off communicating with the market most likely to purchase from you.

Marketing 101: When did you last refer to yourself as the general public? via @CynthiaTLuna | LivinginCyn.com

Beginning with Heart

My process always begin with me, the creator of my work.

You are the Creator of your work—whether it’s fiction or non-fiction—you are the heartbeat, the life-giver of your work. So, we’re going to develop a Character File on You, because, ultimately, you created your book for you. So, the first exercise in this section is:

Character File: You, the Creator.

The first step is to describe yourself without mentioning your name. You’re a writer, so describing yourself shouldn’t be hard. But you’re best off starting with the basics. In marketing lingo, this is usually described as “demographic information”. Most of this information is usually available in a national census or some other public information source. Because we’re talking about you here, you should know this information.

  • Name of Subject: (leave this blank to start)
  • Gender:
  • Age:
  • Main language (language your book is written in)
  • Education (highest degree). And educational reference to your work.
  • Nationality/ Cultural identity/ Religion. This is especially important if this is relevant to your book or the market it is being presented to.
  • [Fill in the Blank]. Depending on the nature of the book you’re writing or the product you’re creating, you may want to have a qualifier that helps define you a little more closely. Suggestions for this might be something like, “Pay Range”, “Home Owner”, “Three-time Spelling Bee finalist”, “President of the Lady Loopers, Knitting and Crochet Membership Association”, “New Yorker/City Dweller”, “Trekkie”, “Foodie” or “YouTube vlogger” or any other category that is particularly interesting to you. You might be presenting a certain expertise in that area, which is also represented in your book. This may or may not be applicable in fiction, but JK Rowling (when she was an aspiring author) could have written something like “single mother who reads to her children” here, or a sci-fi/fantasy writer could put “former rocket scientist” or “sandwich artist” in this category.

Okay, now that you have that sorted, you can release your inner creative with what is commonly referred to as “psychographic information”. You probably have noticed that we already started doing this above.

Create a character file on yourself: The creator of your work.

What makes you tick? 

Have you ever watched the television series, “Criminal Minds”? The show is about a team of FBI agents who work for the “Behavioral Analysis Unit”. Every time they take on a case, they have to create a criminal profile of the unknown subject (“unsub” for short). Basically, I am asking you to be the behavioral analyst for yourself. Your job is to turn the Creator into a character that exhibits habits that make her believable, predictable and likeable.

Start by writing a small paragraph on the Creator. You might find it easiest to de-tach yourself from your idea of yourself and write your file notes in third person (i.e., “The Creator wakes up daily before the crack of dawn” or “The unsub never skips a meal”).

Here are some ideas to get your thoughts flowing to develop a paragraph about the Creator. Some things you might consider:

  • Does the creator wake up at the same time every
  • Cake or eggs for breakfast?
  • Does the creator have a day job she loves, hates, both? Why?
  • How does she like to consume her information? On paper, in an e-reader?
  • What kind of fiction/ non-fiction (depending on your work) does the Creator consistently turn to?
  • What other writers/ authors/ bloggers does she turn to again and again? (Name two to five)
  • What social media does the creator “play” in when she’s not working? Does she follow some folks on a regular basis? Why? (Name two to five)

Now, for the pièce de résistance, give this “Creator” a fictional name. Ideally, this is a code name that will help you remember some of the standout characteristics for this character. When you’re developing your messaging, you’ll be using this as an authenticity-check to ask yourself, “Does this sentence really sound like [code name here]?”

For example, maybe you are writing a book about the numerous benefits of eating eggs. As a result, you look and feel better than ever, and you want to share this news with everyone. Fortunately, you already know better than to tout your method to the “general public”.

You’ve developed a code name for the Creator, and it’s Crafty Carol Benedict. Before you write your next blog post, you might ask yourself, “How would Crafty Carol Benedict write a blog post to busy moms about the health benefits of eggs instead of cake for breakfast?”

Your Voice Comes Straight from the Heart

As a writer, you have most probably heard about “finding your voice” and having that come across in your writing. I think this means, “writing from the heart”.

By developing a Creator profile, you have established the innermost circle of your audience targets. In fact, this audience is in essence the core (cœur) of your audiences, and the next concentric circles expand on this core.

Your Inspiration Expands from the Core

As you continue to think about your code name. Think authors who have inspired Crafty Carol Benedict, these are authors to whom you, the writer, refer again and again. Crafty Carol would also refer her readers to these authors, because of the knowledge and inspiration she gained from them. This concentric circle would be “Similar Authors”.

In the world of business marketing, these people would generally be called competitors—though, in the world of books, entertainment, education and knowledge, I see these people more as a source of inspiration, rather than competition.

Identify at least three authors who inspired your work. Now, picture your book standing next to theirs on the bookstore shelves. Find out the main categories (bookshelves) on which these authors’ works are found.

Under each Inspiring Author’s name, jot down notes with some of the below questions in mind. Of course, use these questions only as a means towards guiding your note-taking, and not as a must-respond for each:

  • What’s the title of their book that’s most similar to yours? Why?
  • What problem of yours did they address?
  • Is the Creator (i.e., Crafty Carol Benedict) their primary audience? — As a side note, answering “no” to this question can be a very powerful indication as to the need your book is filling. For example you might say that the Inspiring Author’s work was a protein diet book, written by a male triathlete for other young, athletic males. Crafty Carol speaks to and for moms who are looking for health solutions for parents and kids (growing bodies).
  • Are you their primary audience? Continuing with the example above, you might have expertise in food and nutrition, but you didn’t write your book for fellow nutritionists, so “you” as the expert are not your primary audience for this book.
  • How did you discover your Inspiring Author?
  • What is a primary frustration for the Inspiring Author’s audience?
  • What does your book offer that theirs don’t?

Your Inspiring Authors occupy the space immediately surrounding the Creator’s (your) inner-most circle. A lot of what they do will inform your marketing decisions—but not everything. You will quickly see what will work for you, and what won’t, because in this next, last step, you’ll be identifying your primary reader’s persona.

Your readers are looking for you

Your readers (or “customers” in marketing speak) occupy the circle surrounding your competitors. By this stage, we have drawn a three-ringed dartboard with the “Creator” character in the center, Inspiring Authors in the middle circle, and “readers” in the outermost circle.

Now, I’m not a very good darts player, but I’m good enough that most of the time, I’ll at least hit the board—even if I don’t come close to the bull’s eye. That’s sort of the principle here.

What if we put a powerful magnet behind the bull’s eye on the dart board? The iron-tipped darts would be almost magically drawn to the bull’s eye! So far, in defining your target audience you have already identified the bull’s eye, we’ve also widened the board by identifying the Inspiring Authors. And because of these two rings, we have a pretty good idea of the kinds of readers would be drawn by both rings.

Understanding your reader

Now, you’re going to define your readers. You’ll note that the process for defining this target is upside down.

We’ll tap into the creative writer in you, and delve right into the psychographics of your primary reader.

Start with a one-sentence response to the following question:

  • What does a typical day look like for your reader?

Don’t read more into this question than you need to. Basically, why does he get out of bed every morning and what’s the first thing he does? Some readers drive to work every day, while others take public transportation. Some are female and some are male. Some have kids. Some stay at home and don’t wake up at the same time ever. Some go to college or high school. This one sentence snapshot applies whether you’re working on fiction or non-fiction.

  • Now, think about this reader’s primary frustration or problem, and what your book does to address it. (You can write one, two or three sentences. But keep it simple.)

For those fiction writers among you, rolling your eyes, this question applies to you too.

Write a letter form the heart. Gather emotional intelligence on your reader.

REader Character file: Gathering emotional intelligence on your readers

Put yourself in your readers’ shoes, and imagine them at the moment that their frustration presented itself. Where are they? Are they sitting at their desks? Back at home? Do they need to learn something quickly?

Or maybe they’re already home—and the children have heard all the story books that are on the shelf. Your readers need another age-appropriate book to read to their children by writers they can trust. Something that’s not too scary, too distressing, or keeps their imagination going.

In fact, for fiction and non-fiction writers, this should be a piece of cake!

  • Now, compose your final sentence, based on this model: “If only [reader] knew, he wouldn’t have to worry about [frustration] anymore.”

Towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see that you can also complete their vital stats there. Your imagination—the images that flitted through your mind, will clue you in on these elements.

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Language
  • Religion. Again, complete what applies to your book.
  • Hometown/Region. (If applicable.)
  • Education
  • Civil Status (Parents?)
  • Career track
  • Anything else that seems pertinent to your reader.

Now, go up to the top of the page and provide a code name for this Primary Reader (P.C. Polly, Daddy Worrywart, or Kash-strapped Kelly)—again, whatever it is that reminds you of their first frustration and reminds you of who your target audience is.

You may have thought of two types of readers for your books. If so, go ahead and develop another Character File on that reader type, but I strongly recommend, you limit your main readers to the two. Also, make sure you clearly identify which one of the two audiences is your primary audience.

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Marketing Strategy, by Cynthia T. Luna - BLOG COVER

Dear Aspiring Author, Defining your audience is the third step to developing your marketing strategy… And You’ve Just Taken It!

Congratulations! You’ve just done something a lot of people neglect, and wish (later on down the marketing road) they had done earlier. You took stock of your situationset your goals in reading the previous blog posts, and now you’ve defined your voice and your audience! All these steps give you clarity Both of these steps are necessary, because they not only give you clarity on how you will take the next step in promoting your book when it’s out.

You’re just beginning your book marketing journey — while you’re writing your novel or non-fiction book. You don’t have loads of time. So, you want to be smart while you start building an author platform, because every minute of your spare time counts!

You might be wondering why all this is helpful.

Setting a marketing strategy helps you set your priorities, so you’re free to move on. No more tinkering, reacting and spending ages barking up the wrong tree. Now you know whom you will be developing messages for and whose voice will be delivering that message.

Also, if you plan to outsource any of your marketing, promotional or design work, you’ll save yourself and your consultants a world of grief by preparing this for those people you talk to. If you’ve already defined the characteristics of your dartboard, then you can present these file notes to your book cover designer, website designer—or, in another example, you can see if it’s worth the time and expense to interview with Lance Armstrong on a radio show, or if it makes more sense for Crafty Carol to contribute a column for Martha Stewart Magazine.

Now you know who is looking for the itch you’re out to scratch, where they’re most likely to look, and you’re even keyed into what influences their decision to pick your itch-scratcher over that of another.

I am cataloguing and sharing my process for setting a Marketing Strategy with you in (almost) real time

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Marketing Strategy, by Cynthia T. Luna - BLOG COVERAt the time of writing this blog post, I do not have a published work for sale on the market. In fact, I am currently editing my first draft of a novel that I know I want to launch as an eBook in the Spring of 2016. Besides getting to the finish line with my novel, my goal is to start with laying the groundwork on my marketing plan and even implementing those parts of the marketing plan that I know I can.

Feel free to join me on my book-writing and marketing journey. If you have any thoughts, tips or comments in general, please let me know via comment, Twitter @cynthiatluna or email at cynthia[at]livingincyn[dot]com!

Bloggers Commenting BackIf you are already a published author, any comments you have to impart on your experience(s) will be gobbled up and appreciated by the rest of us. Please comment, and certainly let me know if you think a “karmic exchange” from aspiring author to another aspiring author, or aspiring author to accomplished author might be worthwhile! 🙂

 

Marketing 101: Aspiring Authors! Where do you see yourself? Set Your Marketing Goals

This blog post is part of a series for aspiring authors who are in the process of writing a book, know they will have a book in the near-ish future, and are wondering how they can get their author platform started. While you may simply begin here to develop a strategic approach, you might find it helpful to read my earlier blog post about taking stock of your digital assets first.

I’ve designed this post so you can set your goals in an hour. (Add some of the blog post reading time to walk through the steps, and you’ll have carved out about 1.5 hours of your day.) 🙂

Without further ado, let’s move onward with setting strategic goals for building an author platform before your novel is out!

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Marketing Strategy, by Cynthia T. Luna - BLOG COVER

This moment is all about you, baby!

In this step, I strongly suggest stepping away from the content of your novel and its story. This is not the time to be thinking about your characters, potential readers, your competition, your friends and family. We’ll get to all those audiences (and more, probably) later.

1. Dream a Little Dream

Take out your trusty dollar-store notebook (or Moleskin) or any book you want to dedicate to your marketing strategy–and turn to the next fresh page.

 

Aspiring authors goal setting notebook

My baby is born!

Aspiring Authors goal setting on a timerAt this stage, I would like for you to write where you see yourself the moment you know your book is live. Approach this moment as if it were fiction in first-person narrative. Set your timer to 15 minutes and start free-writing! These are things you might write about:

  • How you know your book is done. Do you receive an email telling you the link in Amazon is live? Do you receive printed advance copies in the mail? Be descriptive.
  • Time period that you’re holding the first, finished product in your hands. I was pretty non-specific with this. I wrote “Spring 2016”. Other people might even know a month, a week or a day. (And if you’re one of those “other people” you’re probably an extremely driven A-type person, and more power to you!) If you’re like me and still actively writing your novel, don’t get too specific — a season, or a year is fine.
  • The appearance of your book. Have you designed the book cover/interior yourself? Have you outsourced it? If so, who did it? Again, be descriptive–if you can.
  • How seeing your book in “print” (digital or print) for the first time makes you feel. Why do you feel this way? (This part of my goal-setting was the longest because I found I had a lot of feelings ranging from excitement and enthusiasm to anxiety and a little angst.)

Maybe you’ll write 50 words, maybe you’ll write a full page. Anywhere in between is fine. Don’t reread your work, when your time is up! Just continue to the next exercise! (You’ll reread later, I promise.)

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Even now, a year later…

Turn the page, and on this next blank sheet, begin to write where you see yourself and that book, one year later. Again, do this in first-person narrative. Write whatever comes to mind. Obviously, some things, like the appearance of the book, will have lost its “new” feeling to you, but there will be other impressions or feelings you have.

black-and-white-hand-vintage-numbers-CC0Set your timer to 10 minutes. I’m including a couple writing prompts to get you started–you don’t need to use any or every one, just those that inspire you to express your vision!

  • Never in my wildest dreams would I have known that …
  • These last 12 months have been a journey that I can only describe as…
  • So much has changed, and so much has remained the same, since I published this book…
  • If I hadn’t published this book, I would not have been able to…
  • [Go ahead and fill in the blank here, or add your “year later” prompts in the comments below!]

Anticipate the Highlights!

Turn your page back one sheet, and at the top, write “Launch Goal”. (This title tops your page where you free-wrote about your new book going live.)

Aspiring Author goal setting Set your timer for eight (8) minutes. Then, reach for your trusty highlighter and highlight those “facts” that clue you in to what would make that goal feel real. In fact, you are basically story boarding your moment of success, pulling out the main elements that will clue you in to the fact that you have, indeed, made it to where you wanted to be.

This is it! The moment I’ve been waiting for…!

You may have drawn some elements out of your narrative that will probably fall under these categories: time, manner, place, style. And you can basically jot down in one sentence all those elements. Here’s your prompt:

  • “My goal is to have my book [manner: published/ represented/ printed/ designed] by [time] through [this place/ distribution channel: a traditional publishing house/ online platform/ paper print-out/ email newsletter/ whatever] and released on to the market with the [style: brand image — add words: ‘overall look and feel of a [fill in the blank]’ novel/book.”

The formal marketer in me always hesitates when I get to the part of “style” (brand image) because I want to start defining that right away. But, don’t worry, we’ll get to brand image in a couple courses as we define our strategic approach. For now, content yourself with the “overall look and feel of a proper suspense/ romance/ fantasy/ novel” if it’s fiction and if it’s non-fiction: “overall look and feel of a proper how-to/ self-help/ finance book”.

Besides, your timer should have rung by now.

My! How you’ve grown!

Now, turn your sheet one page forward. At the top of this page, write the header, “Long-term Goal”. This title is at the head of the page where you free-wrote about where you see your book a year later.

fashion-man-wristwatch-model-time-watch-CC0Set your timer for eight (8) minutes. Then, reach for your trusty highlighter and highlight those “facts” that clue you in to that goal being accomplished. This is another story board for your moment of success.

You will probably find that your image of success takes on a different hue than in the earlier example. That’s because your long-term vision is a bit more general, more over-arching. If you’re writing a book, you’re in it for the long-haul, and your motivation has a more enduring hue to it.

Here are some prompts:

  • A year after launch, a number of readers have been contacting me to find out what happens to Mr. Protagonist next! I’m already wrapping up the sequel to…
  • A year after launch, I have not only entertained a large number of people, but I have also inspired them to take up writing too.
  • A year after launch, I have learned so much about the writing process that I am being asked to speak at public events.
  • A year after launch, I am committed to writing full time…
  • A year after launch, I have more clarity on how I can work for myself full-time as an author-preneur.

Everybody has a different motivation for writing a book. Your long-term goal needs to speak to that motive. You need to be able to recognize your success when you get there, because — well, a year down the road, you’ll have forgotten that where you are then (in the future) is where you wanted to be. (You may even surprise yourself and notice that it didn’t even take you a full year to achieve your wildest dreams!)

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2. Holding Yourself Accountable.

Goals and dreams are nice and all, but they don’t really mean much, if you don’t attain them — or don’t even come close — or don’t even know if you did. (We can be pretty forgetful.) In the remaining 20 minutes of your hour, we are going to set a couple objectives with you.

Now, that you have your two goals in mind (the first describes what a successful launch/announcement looks like, and the second is where you’d like to see yourself a year from that moment), you can establish clear milestones for getting to both.

  • The word “milestone” helps me define the difference between a goal and an objective. People tend to use the words interchangeably, but really they are different, because a milestone is a measure of distance.

So let’s get to it!

Measurement is key.

Remember how we brainstormed our digital assets last time? And we drew quadrants for each of those assets? You can get the PDF version here and print it out, or just doodle it into your notebook.

time-train-station-clock-deadline-bahnhof-CC0Let’s turn back to the very first page in our notebooks and take the top three digital assets in our notebooks and create milestones we would like to reach for each of those three. Set your timer for 10 minutes.

  1. Label the bottom-left quadrant, “Sociability Objectives”. Then write a few engagement objectives you’d like to see improve or change in that platform. We’re going for your gut feeling here. Things you think might need to change to begin promoting your book. You’ll find this exercise easy by refering to the quadrant immediately above it. I’ll dovetail on the Facebook example I included in my earlier post about Taking Inventory:
    • Establish a Facebook page where I can keep my private (friends and family) connections and public spaces separate.
    • I need to think about the tone of my social engagement messaging — after all, I don’t want to sabotage my current employment situation.
    • I should review what kind of posts seem to encourage positive feedback and mirror those posts on my (new) Facebook page.
    • Just like I find out about hurricanes affecting my friends and family, I think some of my page followers would like to learn about things I’m learning.
    • I might switch Facebook with Twitter in my engagement ranking. I end up wasting too much valuable time in Facebook. (I actually wrote this last one in my Sociability Objectives.)
  2. Label the bottom-right quadrant, “Statistical Objectives”. In this quadrant, write three measurable, time-bound objectives. At this stage, because you have a small platform (and no sellable inventory–yet!), keep it simple, and refer to the stats you mentioned in the quadrant immediately above it. Here’s what I wrote in some of mine.
    • Current Facebook Page status: Zero Likes. Grow this Facebook Page to 300 Likes by December 2016. (I started designing this in October, so all my objectives have a December 2016 end date.)
    • Current Twitter Followers (October 1, 2015) : 480. Grow my Twitter followers to 1,000 by December 31, 2015. And to 2,000 by end of December 2016. (As I write this now, I think I might have been a bit over conservative, but it is written… And, hey, if I surpass this earlier! Success!! You can also see that I had surpassed the 1,000 followers a couple weeks early from the blog post linked above.)
    • This one is a must: “Email list”. If you have a measure on a list of people who follow your other work (a blog or a podcast, etc.) then you can start with that number. If you don’t, you can leave it blank for now. Essentially, your goal is to develop a number of email followers who are likely to be a key audience to your literature by a certain end date. I think in this case, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll have three numbers:
      • 1. The number of email followers you currently have.
      • 2. The number of email followers you wish to have upon launch of your book.
      • 3. The number of email followers you wish to have 12 months after launch.

What jumps out at you?

As you go through this process, you’ll see two things happen.

  1. One of the digital assets you have outlined in the earlier exercise will rise to the top of your priority list, because you’ll see that it responds more closely to your over-arching goal(s).
    • In my case, it was Twitter. I have had a Twitter account since 2008, but I had a whopping (sarcasm here) 430 followers. So it was clear that I was going to have to switch gears in gaining followers on Twitter. (You can read about how I did that in this blog post.)
    • But maybe you have a lot more engagement on Facebook. I have one friend who always poses a question that results in so many comments and likes, that Facebook as a social engagement medium is a no-brainer.
    • I also didn’t have a realistic place for reaching out to folks on Facebook, so I’d be starting from scratch as far as a Facebook Page was concerned.
    • I did have a decent friends and family email list though. But I knew that it would be whittled down to maybe 1/10th of its size as far as attracting truly committed email followers.
  2. Establishing your marketing goals and objectives becomes a pretty personal experience, because it’s based on a blueprint of baseline information that is uniquely yours. One person might build their author platform by having a weekly podcast, and another might do so by posting to Wattpad once a week. In fact, from this point forward, your marketing strategy is developing its own appearance and establishing its uniqueness — and it will continue to do so through the next couple strategy-defining steps.

3. Now, for the final touch: Setting Your Goals & Objectives

red-wall-white-clock-CC0Remember that page where you wrote your Goal? Set your timer to 10 minutes. Go there and see if you need to tweak or adapt anything. Then, move on to add your three objectives further below:

  • “My goal is to have my book [manner: published/ represented/ printed/ designed] by [time] through [this place/ distribution channel: a traditional publishing house/ online platform/ paper print-out/ email newsletter/ whatever] and released on to the market with the [style: brand image — add words: ‘overall look and feel of a [fill in the blank]’ novel.”

Continue with the following language:

  • “My top three measures of a successful launch and first year of my book being on the market are” (You’ll have to use your language based on your brainstorms):
    • Grow X to this level by this date and this level by this date one year later.
    • Increase Y to this level by this date and this level by this date one year later.
    • Take my email list (dedicated author platform) from zero followers as of this date to this level by the launch date in (season or year, if you don’t have a date) and to this level one year later.

Wrap it up with the following language (or some version thereof) relating to your ultimate aspiration of dedicating yourself to writing literature:

  • “My ultimate goal is to …”.

If you enjoyed this, maybe you’d enjoy all the exercises in ONE PLACE…

The book is out now-get yours TODAY!
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Dear Aspiring Author, Setting your goals is the second step to developing your marketing strategy… And You’ve Just Taken It!

Congratulations! You’ve just done something a lot of people neglect, and wish (later on down the marketing road) they had done earlier. You took stock of your situation in reading the last blog post, and now you have set goals. Both of these steps are necessary, because they not only give you serious clarity about your current situation, but they also provide a clear view of where you want to be.

You’re just beginning your book marketing journey — while you’re writing your novel or non-fiction book. You don’t have loads of time. So, you want to be smart while you start building an author platform, because every minute of your spare time counts!

I am cataloguing and sharing my process for setting a Marketing Strategy with you in (almost) real time

At the time of writing this blog post, I do not have a published work for sale on the market. [Editor’s note: The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy is out and available on Amazon now!) In fact, I am currently editing my first draft of a novel that I know I want to launch as an eBook in the Spring of 2016. Besides getting to the finish line with my novel, my goal is to start with laying the groundwork on my marketing plan and even implementing those parts of the marketing plan that I know I can.

The Aspiring Author's Guide: Marketing Strategy, by Cynthia T. Luna - BLOG COVERFeel free to join me on my book-writing and marketing journey. If you have any thoughts, tips or comments in general, please let me know via comment, Twitter @cynthiatluna or email at cynthia[at]livingincyn[dot]com!

If you are already a published author, any comments you have to impart on your experience(s) will be gobbled up and appreciated by the rest of us. Please comment, and certainly let me know if you think a “karmic exchange” from aspiring author to another aspiring author, or aspiring author to accomplished author might be worthwhile! 🙂