Story structure helps us make sense not just of our writing, but of our lives, and that includes our book marketing. A classic story like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey shows observations about the world that can serve as book marketing tips for authors. Here are five I found when I went to see the new Hobbit movie.
1. Be Ready for Adventure
Bilbo Baggins starts out as a comfortable hobbit who likes his dinner and his fire. But when Gandalf and the dwarves call him out of his comfy hobbit hole, he becomes something bigger than he could have imagined.
You probably won’t meet Smaug in your book marketing, unless metaphors count, but you will find challenges and opportunities aplenty. By getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things, you become capable of more than you dreamed of. Make a video? Learn to run a website? Figure out how to make the most of Twitter? Learning, failing, and trying again are all part of your journey as a writer, and fortunately, the orcs are mostly in our imagination.
2. Collect Friends and Associates
Bilbo wouldn’t have been able to go it alone. In fact, he wouldn’t have even tried. And the history of Middle Earth (not to mention the publishing landscape of the real world) would have turned out very differently if he — or J.R.R. Tolkien — had made a different choice.
Find ways to connect with other authors who are traveling your direction on the journey. It might be through live writers’ workshops or critique groups. It might be by following book marketing experts on Twitter and Facebook. It might be by reading books, articles, and blogs by authors who teach about the new publishing landscape. Your friends and allies will help you stay on the path and will be able to give you advice and direction if you have a problem you don’t know how to solve.
3. Have a Map
When Bilbo and the company began their journey, they knew only that they wanted to go to a Lonely Mountain with a dragon inside it. They didn’t know how they would get in or what they would do once they got there. But it was enough to get started.
Likewise, you need a book marketing plan, so that you know where you’re going. You don’t need to be bound by it. Plans may change. You may find that one practice works better than you thought and another doesn’t work at all. Life may throw you surprises. But only by starting with a plan, do you have any chance of reaching your destination.
4. Understand Your Reader’s Motivation
For Bilbo, it was a revelation to understand that the dwarves were motivated on their quest by the same love of home that he felt. When he knew why their quest was so important to them, he felt more committed to helping them achieve their goal.
For any author, to understand the deepest wants of a reader is to know how to serve that reader, whether the topic is fiction or nonfiction. That’s why target audience is so important. Yes, they’ll buy your books, if your books give them what they want and need. Knowing your target audience puts you in a position to make that happen.
5. Get Expert Help
The dwarves really didn’t want to get help from the elves, but circumstances pushed them into the elves’ sanctuary. But by asking for help, the dwarves found a back door into their destination that made the difference between success and failure for their quest.
You also can find expert help with making your book a success: from editing and publishing to building a platform to managing social media. Whether you want to learn how or have it done for you, you can find qualified, competent help.
The flip side of that (and the lesson of the wizard Saruman) is to be careful whom you listen to. Do your research. Get references. Find out if the expert really is one. Know whether the advice makes sense. If you find someone who seems good, you can invest in a small purchase before you splurge on a big one. Then, if you make a mistake, you haven’t lost much. You can count it as part of the learning process and move on.
For example, Dana Lynn Smith has worked more than 17 years in the publishing business and now helps authors build successful publishing careers. She’s about to offer three book marketing webinars over the next couple of weeks, each one dedicated to the unique needs of a discrete group of authors. Here is the information:
- How to Sell More Novels, January 3
- How to Sell More Nonfiction Books, January 8
- How to Sell More Children’s Books, January 10
The webinars are very modestly priced, and she offers abundant resources, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You really can’t afford not to check out the information at her website.