It's disappointing when nobody buys your book. After putting in hundreds of hours of work researching and writing a project you dreamed about, an entire week or month without sales can be downright depressing. Meanwhile, you hear stories of self-published and published authors who are making their full-time living off of their work. They are respected and loved and their names are the first to come up in writing community conversations.
You consider advertising your books to get them out far and wide. You think about Google or Facebook ads, or perhaps you try to get listed on the coveted author mailing lists like BookBub. If one or all of those ideas fail to generate any interest, the you chalk up your book as a failure and start writing the next one.
Like many people, I spent this past Sunday watching the Super Bowl. Advertisers during the big game can spend millions of dollars on a 30-second spot that will be seen by close to 100 million viewers. Some ads are quite memorable (I enjoyed the Bruce Willis/Fred Armisen Honda ad myself) while others fail to register. What is it about the awesome ads that stick? The best ads have a compelling image or story that the viewer will remember and associate with a product.
Let's take a look at ads with puppies for example. People love ads with dogs, and there were several ads this Super Bowl that tried to take advantage of this canine affection. The car commercial with the chihuahua/doberman mix was creepy and I can't even remember offhand which brand it was advertising. The Doritos commercial with the cowboy kid riding the dog was cute but it too relied a bit heavily on CGI. The winning puppy commercial was the Budweiser spot with the puppy befriending one of the brand's classic Clydesdale horses.
It had two things people love: puppies and horses. It also made sure to connect back to a symbol associated with the brand. You don't just remember the cute commercial, you remember the cute "Budweiser" commercial.
How does this connect back to authors? Authors don't always think this deeply about how they market their books. They want to promote their work, but they have no idea what they want their promotion to say about the book. How will your marketing campaign connect with readers? How will readers associate that campaign with your book or you as an author?
Most of us don't have millions of dollars to throw at a Super Bowl ad. That being said, I know many authors who wouldn't even know how to fill the 30 seconds necessary to advertise their book.
Start with the 30 second pitch. Why should people care about your book? What about this advertising campaign is unique to you and your book? Once you've got that figured out, come up with a new way to promote your work. Even these small steps will put you far ahead of most self-published authors. It's time for people to find out about your books. Just do it.
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.