What Is Your Value?
Over the past year or so, I’ve had the good fortune of working closely with Rob Eagar, a professional book marketer and the author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire. I recommend the book to every writer I meet. It’s densely packed with all sorts of great advice for authors to help them build and platform, get noticed, and sell their books.
Rob boils down the entire concept of “platform” and self-marketing” into an incredibly simple series of questions that you can use to start thinking about, building and/or improving your platform today.
The first question is this: What is your value?
In other words, what does your work provide to the reader that they desire? Think about that and don’t be too quick to come up with an answer. If you said, I give them valuable information, then go one step further and ask why it’s valuable. How can it be more valuable? Why are you the right person to provide this information? Are you an expert on a particular topic? Perhaps you’re not simply providing information – maybe you’re providing entertainment. The important thing is to take a minute to define exactly what your value is. Doing so will help you express why people should buy your book. It’s also the sort of information that should be in your dust jacket or catalog copy.
The second question is this: Who needs your value the most?
The people who need your value the most are the ones who will pay good money for it. So your next assignment is to write a list of the people who need your value. Do it right now. For example, are they readers who are looking for information on how to find a good college? Readers who want to know the history behind a particular battle that took place in Vietnam? Readers who desperately want to experience an adventure that they wouldn’t dare attempt in real life? Pinpoint exactly who these people are. They are the best audience for your book.
Finally, determine where the people who need your value congregate.
Is it on a particular website, or collection of related websites? Message boards or chat rooms? What about specific association members? Social media circles? Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James began as Twilight fan fiction. James built her audience on fan fiction sites with a particular interest in the subject matter of her book. When she revised the book so that it was no longer fan fiction, she’s already developed a following, the members of whom helped spread word of mouth about the new revision. I’m pretty sure you know how it all turned out.
The point is, know where your audience congregates, shares ideas, talks about the subject matter they’re interested in and start building your audience there. Dependable book sales only follow when the customer is already in place.