Marketing Principles: Part 2 of 3
by Jim Rubart
Marketing Principle #2:
If You’re Not First, Forget It
• First person to fly across the Atlantic in an airplane?
• First President of the United States?
• First person to break the four minute mile?
• First person to walk on the moon?
Most of you probably came up with, Lindbergh, Washington, Banister, and Armstrong without much effort. Want to take a shot at naming the second person in each category? What? Hinkler, Adams, Landy, and Aldrin don’t easily roll off the end of your brain?
Trying to be the next Grisham, Dekker, Kingsberry, etc. is futile. Be the next you.
In other words, don’t imitate anyone else. The absolute best you’ll achieve is becoming an incredible copy. Why would anyone buy a Gucci knock-off if they can have the original for the same price?
Editors and agents are looking for unique stories and unique voices.
So give ’em Charles Lindberg, ’cause they’re never going to remember Bert Hinkler.
Marketing Principle #3:
Website Blunders to Avoid
We know the opening lines of our books have to be compelling. Then why do so many writers open their Web sites with clichéd, boring, generalities?
• “Welcome to my Web site! I’m so glad to see that you’ve taken the time to stop by. Explore! Take your time to look around. On my Web site I hope to share with you some things ….”
• “Welcome! What a treat to have you drop by my cyber-world. What I’d like to do here is tell you about my love for writing, how I became a writer, my love for …”
(In September I taught a workshop at a writing conference where writers submitted their Web sites to me before the class. Over sixty-five percent of the sites opened with “Welcome.” This did not shock BROCA. This was not Lindbergh. This wasn’t even Bert.)
Think of your Web site’s visuals as the cover of your book. Think of the first words people read on your site as your back cover copy. Those words need to surprise, intrigue and entice your reader into exploring further.
How long do you have to hook someone visiting your site? Agent Steve Laube says the typical reader in a bookstore will spend twenty seconds deciding to buy your book. Studies say you have seven seconds to interest them in your Web site. Make your copy compelling.
Another Blunder: Making it all about YOU.
Marketing 101 says everyone has a stamp across their forehead: W.I.I.F.M.? (What’s in it for me?)
It would be wonderful if readers cared about us, but they don’t. They care about what we can do for them. They care about being inspired, encouraged, challenged, and entertained. Consequently the majority of your content needs to be about them, not you.
The first line of copy on my own Web site says, “Do you live with freedom?” I’ve yet to meet someone who says, “Yep, I’m totally free, don’t need any more freedom,” or “Nope, wrapped up in chains, but have no interest in getting rid of them.” I try to draw people in by having a first line that brings up a universal need.
What do most successful books do? Address a need of the masses. Which one does your Web site copy address?
Last blunder to avoid: Settling. Authors often settle for a Web site that is okay. Okay isn’t good enough.
I know your brother’s Aunt’s cousin’s best friend from Jr. High loves doing Web sites and he’ll do yours for $100. Resist the temptation. If your site looks amateurish, people will assume your writing is the same.
Can you design your own site and write your own Web site copy? Sure! You can also learn to play Bach if you have the time, talent, and commitment.
Your site is competing against the best author Web sites on the internet. And the internet isn’t the future. It’s the present. Your Web site and/or blog, is often the primary way you’ll introduce yourself to readers (and often editors and agents as well).
There’s a reason the good pub houses give meticulous attention to their covers. Right or wrong, people do judge books by what is on the front. Same with the look of a Web site and the copy it contains. It’s worth taking the time and money to make it outstanding.
Jim Rubart is the owner of Barefoot Marketing (www.barefootmarketing.com) a marketing & consulting firm in the Pacific Northwest, and his first novel ROOMS comes out in April from B&H Fiction (www.jimrubart.com). He is represented by Chip MacGregor at MacGregor Literary. (www.chipmacgregor.com)