From the Pen of Dr. Tim Morrison, President and Writing Coach of Write Choice Services, Inc.
Every once-in-awhile, I come across the statement: writing is the easy part; marketing is hard. The first time I encountered the statement, I laughed. I was writing my first book. Considering the task of research, writing, responding to my editor’s comments, revising and repeating it all and finally realizing there would always be one more book or article or magazine or reference to research, I figured marketing would be a lot less painful, certainly easier than writing.
My manuscript underwent a final edit. My son agreed to do the cover design and I sent the work off to the publisher. As the publishing process proceeded, I received a letter from the publisher. The company asked me to provide a list of names and addresses of family members, friends, colleagues, associates. The publisher would send a first class letter to each name on the list. The letter would promote my forth coming book and offer each recipient the opportunity to purchase a copy of the book at a pre-publication price – a significant discount from the published price.
I jumped all over that offer. I generated a list of seventy-five names: family, friends, members of congregations I had served as pastor, classmates. What an opportunity! As I recall, ten people from that list of seventy-five “close” connections purchased a copy.
The anticipated rate of return on a direct mail campaign (or its modern equivalent) is between 1 – 2%. The rate of return – response to the pre-publication book offer – came in at 13%. From a marketing perspective this was outstanding. From a personal perspective, it certainly was not what I anticipated. The list contained the names of people with whom I had a good, even strong, relationship. I assumed that they would jump at the chance to have a book written by someone they knew (me)! I was wrong.
I learned three valuable lessons from that experience, which were confirmed in two subsequent books I wrote and were published by the same company (sometimes I am a slow learner):
1) Being a relative, close friend, colleague, classmate is not sufficient reason for an individual to feel moved to buy one’s book;
2) Many assumed that the publisher provided me with a limitless supply of free copies of my book so they awaited their free, autographed copy. This took a while for me to learn because people were initially reluctant to act upon their assumption but most eventually did. When they learned the reality the authors have to buy their own books albeit at a reduced price even when offered a discounted price, few purchased my book;
3) There is so much more to marketing one’s book than a first class pre-publication price letter, distributing bookmarks which feature the book, having a web page presence, networking and word of mouth.
I became a believer in the simple yet paradoxical comment: writing is the easy part; marketing is hard. I share this with my clients. It is vital knowledge. I also provide recommendations to my clients to individuals I know who have solid backgrounds in marketing and publicity.
Write Choice Services focuses on walking along side our clients to coach them in the writing process and editing their manuscripts to produce a top quality product. We are not marketing specialists but we do know the challenge of writing and marketing. Let us help you generate the best book you can so you can confidently approach a publisher and a marketing specialist. Contact us today.
Urs Milz and his wife Fanny Ritter Milz were each clients several years ago. I asked Urs to share his experience since then. His reflections follow as our guest columnist.