Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Meet Nate Hardy!

You’re finally finished!  Your novel, memoir or book of essays is ready for readers.  How to market it?   Don’t miss Nate Hardy and our conference workshop, Marketing Made Easy For Writers.  Hardy is the founder of Plus Sign Business + Life Coaching, and a Pennwriters board member. A former journalist, Hardy has a writing and publishing background and is an experienced teacher and workshop leader.  His assists to writers include a book on strategic marketing and a website for writers to evaluate and optimize their own websites and blogs. 

Melba Tolliver: Tell me how you got into marketing for writers.

Nate Hardy: Marketing is my field and I’ve been a published writer for decades, so it was something that naturally evolved. I have seen so many writers struggle with marketing--especially with the increasing importance of online marketing--that I decided to devote more into helping them.

MT: Are there general marketing rules for writers?  Do the rules change depending on genres?

NH:  Yes, there are some general rules for marketing. I put some of these rules into simplified concepts to help writers better recall and follow them. The Promotion Pyramid (which is one of these concepts and featured on the cover of my book, Strategic Marketing Made Easy For Writers) shows how writers need to prioritize their marketing money and time based on how many people they can reach through each marketing tactic. Maximizing reach of one’s audience is a key rule. Planning a marketing strategy before implementing marketing tactics is another rule. Catering to an audience’s needs and not just the writer’s needs is yet another rule. Differentiating one’s work from the thousands of competing writers and books is a must, too. 

Traditional ads are not very effective for fiction authors, but can be for nonfiction authors. More niche genres like Romance (a large genre but predominantly women) require more niche marketing, otherwise an author will waste a lot of money and effort marketing where most of the audience doesn’t need the product.

MT: Tell me the difference between PR, Promotion and Marketing. Are they different?

NH: Yes, they are different. PR (aka Public Relations or publicity) is geared toward informing the public and is usually free. Because it’s often delivered by the media, it is also considered objective information. Examples include author interviews (TV, virtual/blog tours, etc.), press releases, and articles and reviews on the author or book.

Promotions are short term incentives, typically with expiration dates, to boost sales and lower hurdles for customers to buy a product. Promotions can also be free just like PR--the author is betting on an increase in sales that is large enough to offset whatever is given away in the promotion. Examples include freebies, contests, and coupons.

PR is not marketing, yet promotions are. For discussion convenience about writers and other small business sole proprietor matters, PR and promotions are lumped together with marketing, and marketing involves everything that generates product awareness and the customer’s desire and ability to buy.

MT: What is the biggest marketing mistake writers make?

NH: Jumping to marketing tactics without having a marketing strategy first. Another common mistake is putting too much effort in low-reach low-sales marketing tactics like book signings instead of putting more effort into high-reach high-sales efforts like publicity.

MT: What should writers consider when determining their marketing budget?

NH: More marketing money doesn’t always equal more sales. Neither does more reach if the media outlet does not serve the author’s audience. After putting together a marketing strategy, writers should estimate how many sales they can reasonably expect from each marketing tactic and compare those numbers to the cost. If the sales can’t cover the cost, it may be best to reduce the marketing budget until expected sales better meet costs, unless the writer is new to the market and thus has no awareness because there is market penetration and startup cost a “new business.”

MT: How does marketing differ for self-published writers and those who have traditional publishers?

NH: The biggest difference is in distribution. Traditionally-published books are in practically every book store, so authors only have to concentrate their marketing on readers. Self-published books are rarely found in book stores, so self-published authors not only have to concentrate their marketing on readers but also on convincing distributors and book stores to sell their books in order for readers to have a convenient place to buy them. Moreover, publishers handle some of the marketing of its own books, while self-published writers typically handle all of their own marketing.

MT: How can a writer determine the market for her book?

NH: Pick 3 representative competitors already in the same market and study them: the types of readers they have, media appearances, websites, other authors and organizations with which they collaborate, who they seem to cater to most, etc. Writers can learn a lot from seasoned competitors. And because competitors in the writing world tend to be helpful and aren’t dog-eat-dog secretive like the corporate world of Pepsi vs. Coke, writers can even ask competing writers directly for advice.

Another way to determine the market for a book is to think through the biggest themes and characters of the book. With what reader populations would these themes and characters resonate the most? What are the market sizes of these reader populations? Writers can contact federal, state, and local census and economic development offices for market demographics data or search the internet for pertinent articles and reports.

MT: How do ISBN numbers, bar codes, advance information sheets and other factors affect the sale-ability of a book?

NH: These things help booksellers, organizations, and other buyers purchase the book. It’s recommended that authors list their book’s ISBN number on marketing material and websites because one will never know what buyer--a casual reader, library, or special interest group--may be interested in ordering the book.

MT: How can a writer use a website to promote a book?  Should it be a website dedicated to the book?

NH: A website can cover every aspect of marketing strategy: awareness, customer needs, interest in the author and the book, and the ability to order the book. An author can have a website dedicated solely to the book. However, an author-dedicated website may be easier to maintain and take greater advantage of cross-sell opportunities with other books, products, and information. My book Strategic Marketing Made Easy For Writers includes a Website Scorecard to help writers objectively evaluate and optimize their websites or blogs, which is available at http://www.PlusSignProductions.org/2009/09/products.html.

MT: How does a writer go about soliciting blurbs for her book?

NH: This isn’t as hard as some writers may think. It can be less intimidating if writers think of how the blurb also helps the person solicited. Get a list of experts, authors, and media personalities that serve or may resonate with the author’s audience. Mail them a brief request, telling them how great they are for the blurb in the introduction. If they never read or don’t have the book, offer to send them a copy. Expect only X percent of the people contacted to respond because some will not.

MT: We have all heard about the author who sold her first book from the trunk of her car and made it a best seller.  Is this myth?

NH: Yes and no. People who are naturally good at sales can sell hundreds of books this way. Extroverts will do better at achieving such sales feats than introverts, and most writers are introverts. Virtually all writers who sold books out of the trunk of their car and reached the bestseller list got there after being discovered by a traditional publisher that had the store distribution volume to make their books bestsellers, not before. 

Journalist and writer, Melba Tolliver has been a tv news reporter and anchor. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Black Sports and other publications. She has served as writer-in-residence at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY and Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Melba blogs from her websitewww.melbatolliver.com and is completing Accidental Anchorwoman: Choice, Chance and Change.  She interviewed Nate Hardy.

No comments :

Post a Comment