In 1972, two guys name Al Ries and Jack Trout collaborated on a series of articles for Advertising Age. The articles were about positioning: positioning a company or a brand in advertising. Now, 41 years later, the term “positioning” still holds true and is a buzzword among media creatives.
The question? How can we get a consumer to pay attention to us in this, as Ries and Trout call it, a highly “over-communicated society.”
Their question is even more viable today as it was in 1972. We are inundated by messages all day long. Think about it: We see ads on Facebook, Twitter, on television and radio, billboards, bus signs, magazine and newspaper ads, and the list goes on as these messages fill our minds with clutter. Have you ever stood in Times Square and just looked around in awe? How many messages are facing you? You as a single, solitary person must then interpret and process the information.
Sometimes you just want to shout STOP THE MADNESS!
Two nights ago when I was interviewed on ABC2’s show THE LIST, I talked about how to write your book, to take it step by step. But being an independent author means you have to tackle two sets of skills: writing the novel, which is creative, and then marketing the novel, which can be creative but requires some business finesse. The truth is, the most difficult part of the process is marketing that work once it’s completed, or, as Ries & Trout like to call it, POSITIONING IT to readers.
All of us independent authors must have a niche: What sets us apart from other writers? Why is our book special? And, as I work toward the completion of a second book, I am already asking myself a vital question: What is unique about this novel, and how will I position it in the very large, very vast book marketplace?
I’ve learned a few things along the way as an independent author, and I’ve taken to heart what Ries & Trout have to say about positioning myself—and my work. I’ve made a little, teeny-tiny dent in the publishing world, which is changing on us day by day. More and more people are turning to self-publishing. And to boot, e-books are on the rise. In fact, according to Digital Book World, e-book sales account for more than 50% of titles sold. And while many think digital book sales may have peaked, no one can predict how sales will fare in the future.
The good thing is that people are reading. And that begs the question: How do we get readers to pick up our book?
The answer lies in positioning yourself. Positioning your book and you. Do you have a blog or website? Can people get to know you and your writing that way? If they become interested in your blog, perhaps they will pick up a copy of your book. You can Tweet. You can get followers on Facebook. You can become a Goodreads author. You can pin on Pinterest. You can link in with people on LinkedIn. You can send out press releases and try to tackle traditional media. You can enter your book in contests and try to win awards. These are just a few ideas that independent authors use to launch and gain readers.
But truth be told, the position is what you want. You have to have a good product in order to position it well. For authors, our product is our work, our book. If someone likes what you’ve written, they will be more inclined to buy the next one you put out.
Being an independent author is all about positioning.
But it takes time, patience, and drive.
Not to mention, a good story, and lest we forget, some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals.