Guest Expert: C. Patrick Schulze
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All other things equal, would you rather chow down on a fast food burger or one hot off your backyard grill? I’ll bet big money most of you say the one from your grill. Am I right? However, who sells more of their hamburgers, you or the fast food chain?
Okay, now, let’s noodle that one out, shall we? Why would lower quality food sell billions of times, while your mouthwatering masterpiece doesn’t sell at all? The simple secret, of course, is not quality but marketing. The restaurant does a great deal of it to inform the consuming public about their product, while you do none.
This silly illustration exemplifies two fundamental aspects about marketing every author should take to heart. First, marketing is the key to sales success. If you wish to sell your books, you must market them and market them well. It’s a pretty simple concept. The other important lesson found within our burger example is, are you ready for this, lesser quality content will outsell better quality, every time, if its marketing is superior.
Now, that’s not to say a burger made of actual cardboard will sell at all, regardless its marketing, but you understand the point. Though you must have a quality book, if you are not as accomplished as another writer, you can still far outsell him if you have the stronger marketing.
What this tells us is not only must we, as authors, learn the craft of writing, we must learn the craft of marketing if we are to sell our books. The good news is marketing is not as difficult to learn as writing. Without a doubt, there is a great amount to absorb, but once the fundamentals become entrenched in your mind, the rest falls in place with ease.
Now, let’s look at the first fundamental of marketing, shall we?
I sat in the audience at the James River Writers’ Conference last year where a panel of three well-known authors spoke on book marketing. They offered what I consider the secret to marketing your book.
After the authors held their discussion, they opened the floor for Q & A. An aspiring author asked a question which I’ll paraphrase. She asked, how much time did the authors spend on marketing their books and how much on their physical writing. The authors covered their microphones and whispered among themselves. They then nodded in unison. One of them leaned into his microphone and said, “seventy-five percent on marketing and twenty-five percent on writing.” The other two nodded their agreement.
A sudden hush fell over the audience. However, a hubbub soon rumbled around the room. I think everyone in attendance had the same question I did. “Really?”
The authors then went on to explain their collective comment, but each one agreed on the formula offered.
If that seems like a great deal of your productivity is placed on something other than writing, well, you’re correct. However, I liken that to the first business I started. I opened a retail store and at first thought I’d be on that sales floor 24/7 and just burning up the cash register keys with sales. The reality of it? Maybe five percent of my time I spent selling. The rest of the time I ordered merchandise, supervised people, did paperwork, paid bills, vacuumed the floors, managed my marketing and so on. The vast bulk of my time was not spent on my base function of sales. The great majority I spent on everything else in order to ensure that during the five percent of the time I sold, I had the correct product on the shelves to actually sell.
This same principle applies to your writing. Put as much energy into marketing as you do writing. Just put most of your time into the craft of marketing.
Now, what questions might you have about marketing your books?
Until we meet again, know I wish for you only best-sellers.
C. Patrick Schulze
He is married to his lovely wife Katy and they live in Richmond, VA (USA). He has two daughters, two step-children and six grandchildren. He is an avid photographer and life-long student of the American Civil War.