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I’d stay up all night chatting with my ideal reader…

Day 21 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge gives participants the opportunity to identify something every author needs to know: his/her ideal reader. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 21 writing prompt:

Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail (e.g., childless divorced women past age 50 who want to remarry). Why that demographic? Describe their psychographics. How do you connect with them to market to them?

I am continually amazed, as a book marketing consultant, how many authors fail to consider – or often even have a clue – who the audience for their books is. They just decide they’re going to write a book – and figure they’ll get to the marketing stuff later. Then the book is done, they’ve got a palette of them sitting in their garages, and they wish they’d given some thought to their audiences earlier.

As I have mentioned at considerable length in many prior posts, knowing your reader is crucial to getting your books in his/her hands. This includes really fine-point details:

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you must know everything you can about your reader. This includes two components: demographics and psychographics. Demographics means measurable things like age, education, and marital/parenting status. Psychographics, on the other hand, are the things that make your reader unique, such as their personality traits, values, and attitudes.

When it comes to reading, here are some interesting statistics to consider:

  • In a 2013 survey of 1,005 people in the U.S. conducted in English and Spanish via landlines and cell phones, some 76 percent of adults ages 18 and older said that they read at least one book in the past year. (I am very skeptical of this statistic.)
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/16/a-snapshot-of-reading-in-america-in-2013/
  • Women are more likely than men to have read a book in the previous 12 months, and those with higher levels of income and education are more likely to have done so as well.
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/16/a-snapshot-of-reading-in-america-in-2013/
  • The average college freshman reads at a seventh-grade level.
http://campusreform.org/?ID=6174
  • The average reading level for American adults is about seventh to eighth grade.
http://www.clearlanguagegroup.com/readability/
  • The reading skills of American adults are significantly lower than those of adults in most other developed countries, according to a new international survey.
http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-american-adults-have-low-and-declining-reading-proficiency-20131008-story.html
  • There are almost half-a-million words in the English Language – the largest language on earth, incidentally – but one-third of all our writing is made up of only 22 words. (Scary!)
http://www.readfaster.com/education_stats.asp#
  • According to the Literacy Project Foundation, 50 percent of American adults cannot read a book at the eighth-grade level.
http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/

Some of these stats conflict a bit, and overall the news is not good for reading and literacy in America. However, I’m not here to dwell on these issues today. My point is that my reader is not the average American reader.

Meg Cabot

If you’re thinking this image looks familiar, it’s because I used it for my Sept. 24th post, “If ‘Stan’ were nonfiction, it’d still be a travelogue… just drier.

While I don’t think I deliberately set out to do this, looking back on my novel writing process, it seems inevitable that I would write something I wanted to read. I mean, who doesn’t? Children’s authors, maybe. But don’t you think you’d HAVE to write a book that you, personally, would like? Otherwise, it would feel forced and fraudulent.

To that end, my reader is smart – more than likely college educated. He or she likes to travel, or at least enjoys learning about other cultures, and is probably better traveled than Stan, at least at the start of his trip. He or she will tend to lean politically liberal (a Bernie Sanders fan, to be sure) – or will wind up chucking the book across the room at various points in the reading of it. He/she maymillennials or may not have a religious tradition. More than likely, they are exploring and open to various spiritual teachings. I’m surmising this reader is younger – a Millennial or Gen-Xer. I’m having to keep this in mind as I write – to make an effort to be more socially current than I personally may have an interest in. This is one place where I am not exactly my reader.

My reader wants needs to make a difference. He/she is wired and connected to a handful of the most useful social media platforms – which is, in large part, where I will go to meet him or her. He or she reads the news online. Thinks Trevor Noah is doing a better job than they expected. Still likes and shops at bookstores. Loves indie coffee houses. Shops thrift stores. Recycles. Has done volunteer work and attended several Meetups in the last year. He or she is urban, as opposed to suburban or rural. He or she embraces public transportation, has a bicycle and rides unashamedly and unironically. He or she is fairly health conscious, eats organic at least sometimes, is assuredly opposed to Monsanto, and has called/emailed his or her legislator on at least one issue of importance. Is amused by PeopleOfWalmart.com but prefers DailyCurrant.com.

I think the biggest challenge with meeting my readers in person is that I’ll love them and want to hang out with them and chat into the wee hours (at which time they are most definitely up!), which would leave little time for anything else, seeing as meeting interesting new people is probably my most favorite activity in the entire world. A great problem to have, I suppose – meeting too many new people and having to cut conversations short. Ask me again in a year.

Well, that may not be every detail, but it’s a hell of a start. So tell us a bit about who your ideal reader is and how you plan to connect with him/her. Use the Comments section below…

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll reveal who I’d really, really like to have endorse my book…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Self publishing “Stan” for all the right reasons

Day 20 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks participants to discuss their publishing choices. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 20 writing prompt:

Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing, formatting, recording, editing, and distribution? How did you select them?

I think at some point, almost every beginning author fantasizes about a publishing contract with a large house, a fat advance, giant PR budget, and extensive book tour. And while some authors certainly have that fantasy come true, most of us may have one or the other of those things happen, but it’s unlikely that a fairy godmother will turn all of our ragtag dreams into a Cinderella reality.

raven author2market

Anymore, the biggest deal is not making a beautiful, professional book one can proudly display and sell and sign at author events. Even self-published authors with great skills, a solid supporting cast, and/or a decent budget can make one. The biggest deal is finding readers for said beautiful book. While there are many tools at an author’s disposal for marketing said beautiful book, they only work when:

(a) the author has a plan

(b) the author commits to the plan and executes it faithfully

(c) the author stays the course and is consistent about his/her marketing efforts

(d) the author monitors the plan so he/she knows what’s working and what isn’t

(e) the author tweaks the plan accordingly

My plan for Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is to self-publish as a print book, an ebook, and eventually an audiobook. I’m in conversation with an editor right now – preparing to send her a draft so she can see my work and provide a sample edit. As a professional editor, I’ve mentioned that I’m pretty fussy about who touches my work. She’s an excellent writer, though, and a good person with a wonderful sense of humor – so I’m thinking she may be a perfect fit. Mind you, not every good writer is an excellent editor, but I think it almost always happens that a good editor is a pretty decent writer. We met through the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup, where a fair amount of professional services are exchanged.

The print and ebooks are easy. I work with a great local (Phoenix) printer who came highly recommended and has never disappointed. I will likely use several ebook distribution services, including Amazon, at least for the short term. As for the audiobook…

I know, I know, I know that it’s highly discouraged for authors to read their own books, but I really want to try it. I also know it’s super-duper absolutely ultimately highly discouraged not to use a professional studio, but I have access to a couple semi-professional studios, and also may attempt that. What I won’t attempt is the editing. I’ve never done much audio editing, but I’ve rewound and rewound and rewound while doing transcription, so I can only imagine the tedium that accompanies eliminating every um, er, cough, or sniffle, not to mention adding appropriate stops for commas, dashes, periods, and ends of paragraphs. Fortunately, we also have a Stan @ Mt Olympusfantastic audiobook production company in the Valley. So regardless of the level of support I need, I’m sure I can get it reliably.

Other plans include a coloring book – probably initially reserved for a crowdfunding campaign – as well as a cookbook with food and drink recipes from all the places Stan visits. These will almost surely become ancillary products. Depending on the success of my musical venture with my husband, we may put together a CD and/or digital album as another ancillary offering. There will be no sequel to Stan, but the goal is to get my next novel done in less than half the time it’s taken Stan to hit the streets.

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll be describing who I see as the market for Stan

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Interview with a musician-reader-plumber type

You’re an author. Find a reader to interview! For Day 19 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, we were invited to interview a reader. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 19 writing prompt:

Find someone you know, either online or in the real world, who is a true bibliophile and interview them about their reading habits.

I met my husband on Craigslist. Yep – the same place you go to sell your old 45s or for game-day tickets because you waited till the last minute. Many people don’t even realize Craigslist has a Personals section. What I loved about it, as opposed to targeted john waters quotedating sites a la eHarmony and Match-dot-com, was the flexibility to write my own fully developed posts. I was able to weed out most of the riff-raff simply by being clever and funny. I liken it to the difference between a multiple choice exam and an essay test. The writer in me always kicked butt on essay tests. Not so much on multiple choice, because you actually had to memorize specific facts and details.

The best dating advice I ever got (from my relationship coach, Sunil Ahuja, and Laura Doyle, author of The Surrendered Single) was to let go of the list – the checklist of attributes that all those multiple-choice dating sites require you to complete. Granted, it took about five years of on-again/off-again posting on Craigslist to meet “the one,” but he was definitely worth the wait. And in the process, I learned some stuff, collected some side-splitting fodder for a book that may one day get written, and began some friendships that still survive to this day.

So, with my husband’s permission, I share with you the paragraph that stole my heart:

I know about your book habit, as well. Do you know about that annual book sale that is at the fairgrounds? You can get hardcover editions for about a dollar. I still have a backlog from the last one, and that was a w capfew months ago. So lately for me it’s been a lot of F. Scott, Hemingway, and Steinbeck. All great books – I can’t pick a favorite. It’s kind of like comparing The Beatles and The Stones, in that both are superior in different ways. Although Steinbeck would be more like Springsteen. He takes characters that F. Scott and Hemingway wouldn’t even think about and turns them into poetry. That, at least, is my literary analysis which serves me well in my vocation as a plumber.

A reader – thank god! There was exactly ONE question about reading on the 11-page eHarmony questionnaire. And the responses I received went about like this:

“I can’t remember the last book I read.”

“I only read gaming magazines.”

“I only read graphic novels.”

“I tried to read a book once…”

I am neither lying nor exaggerating. So meeting a smart plumber who could read me under the table – how could I resist?!

UPDATE: He’s given up the plumbing to dive into his music, full-time. Woo-hoo!

CONFESSION: “Musician” was one of the items on my checklist.

It’s no surprise, then, that musician biographies and autobiographies are one of my husband’s favorite things to read. From Steven Tyler to Andy Summers to Peter Criss to Clarence Clemons to Eric Clapton – he owns most of them and borrows the rest from the library. While I think Mickey would read the back of an oatmeal box if there were nothing else around, he understandably prefers reading the biographies of musicians he admires, like Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, and Pete Townshend. And while I’m noticing a certain trend toward books about male musicians, I’m sure if he came across the bios of Joan Jett or Ann and Nancy Wilson, he’d read those, too.

When he’s not reading music stories, he prefers the strange and scary make-believe worlds of authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Charlaine Harris. His favorite King book is The Shining.

Prior to our recent move, we purged a couple hundred books from our combined collection, and we VNSA salesbarely made a dent. Most of the ones we brought with us are still in boxes, waiting for new bookcases on which to live. Many were acquired at the aforementioned annual VNSA book sales. It’s hard not to go crazy at an event like that. While Mickey prefers the practicality of ebooks, he still very much enjoys wandering the aisles of new and used bookshops. “I love the VNSA sale because it’s a chance to find something interesting, a treasure I might never have happened on or searched for on purpose.” I’ve seen him devour a book in a day, though he tells me his reading has recently slowed to 15 or 20 books a year.

Though he’s more fluent in classic rock and 70s/80s singer-songwriter material, he dabbles at writing his own songs. His personal writing goal is to develop a blog with tips for aspiring guitarists.

His next reading goal is to try out the new (to him) genre of science fiction, which he’s never read much in the past.

Our joint goal is to collaborate on a multimedia presentation that features readings from Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, coupled with songs that represent and/or evoke the ethos/pathos/logos of some of the 23 countries Stan visits. Now that’s a joint venture I cannot wait to plan! In the meantime, we’ll keep reading, writing, and dancing.

So who is your favorite reader in the whole world? Tell us in the Comments section below!

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll be explaining why I chose to publish in paperback and ebook formats…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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Name that tune … the one that captures the essence of your book

If there were one song… For Day 18 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, we add music to the publishing mix. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 18 writing prompt:

If there were one song that captured the meaning, spirit, message, energy, and or substance of your book, what would it be? How can you use that song or piece of music to market your book or enhance your readers’ experience with your book?

book song

So the idea for this prompt came as I was scratching my head to think of an icebreaker for a networking-only meeting of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. A novel (ha – pun intended?!) way to introduce their books that would help others remember them. It was a fun exchange that actually resulted in an earlier post right here on the Marcie Brock blog. Click the link to see some of the books and songs members of our group introduced that night.

My song choice to introduce Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World was the rather on-the-nose “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Perhaps more famously played by Peter Paul and Mary, it was John Denver who wrote the song, and the artist I think about when I hear – or look for – it.

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

songs - leaving on a jet plane

However, in giving the topic slightly more thought for this blog post, I came up with several other songs that also speak to, hint at, or generally describe the reasons, feelings, and decisions Stan makes throughout his travels. There are dozens of lists of travel songs out there – this one is mine.

When I think of this song, I’m reminded of my musician husband’s recent off-the-cuff quip: “Have you noticed that no one really writes songs about rambling anymore?” Of course, this quintessential Zeppelin song is hardly your average ballad, now is it?

Ramble on and now’s the time, the time is now, to sing my song
I’m going around the world, I got to find my girl, on my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day ramble on
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams

songs - ramble on

Of course, it’s the postcards, message, and I Nine’s clear, beautiful voice that captured my attention with “Same in Any Language.”

Those postcards I sent to Birmingham,
All the way from those windows of Amsterdam,
I copped a gram from Dappersan
Just to fall at her man in another jam,
Oh yeah,
Oh oh yeah.

It’s the same in any language,
A brother is a brother if there’s one thing I know,
It’s the same in any language,
Wherever you go.

songs - same in any language

And regardless of the topic, I’d probably never, ever make a song list (or an MP3 playlist, for that matter) that didn’t include a U2 song. Fortunately, “Where the Streets Have No Name” is a perfect fit for this list.

I want to run
I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

songs - where the streets have no name

Coincidentally perhaps, as I was driving East, leaving the quiet desert of Tucson for the bright lights of NYC and the Tri-State area, Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway” was getting near-constant airplay. Today, I prefer the Rascal Flatts’ version…

Through all these cities and all these towns
It’s in my blood and it’s all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands
From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber Pass to Vancouver’s lights

Knock me down get back up again
You’re in my blood
I’m not a lonely man

songs - life is a highway

And although Stan’s travels would hardly be described as a mere vacation, as a child of the 80s, I’d be utterly remiss if I neglected to include The Go-Go’s on this list, now wouldn’t I?

A week without you
Thought I’d forget
Two weeks without you and I
Still haven’t gotten over you yet

songs - vacation

Travel songs. None of these is mentioned in the book – and a number of songs do make it into the story at various places. But songs that bring to mind the theme of the book. Traveling, rambling, learning, growing, grieving, relating…

What song(s) would you use to promote your book or enhance your book signing? Tell us in the Comments section below!

Please be check in again tomorrow, when I’ll be sharing an interview with one of my favorite readers in the whole world…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

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Which song best introduces or accompanies your book?

I am blessed to be married to a guitar player, and a pretty talented one, at that. If you’ve never had live music to accompany the workday in your home office, you don’t know what you’re missing. Recently, Mickey was hired to write a jingle for a sales coach and trainer friend of mine. Just 18 words and a pretty simple sound, it was a lot more work than one might expect.

w capFor Christmas 2013, I wrote a post about the idea of creating a jingle to market your book. Now that I’ve seen the jingle-creation process up close and personal, I might revisit that post to tweak things just a bit.

Nevertheless, Mickey’s jingle gave me an idea for an icebreaker for a networking event I hosted for members of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup. While our Meetups typically have prepared programs with handouts, the networking-only events are just that – the chance to ask questions, share ideas, and get to know each other socially. Since there are always at least a couple new people and the networking group is generally much smaller, I search for engaging ways to have the authors introduce themselves.

Last night, I asked each author to choose a song they feel represents their book. This is kind of an interesting idea, if you think about it. Why not have that song playing at the start – or during – your book signing events? Of course, you’d need licensing permission if you were going to record the event for any sort of distribution. Just reading or signing, though? Music that relates specifically to you book might add something very special.

I broke the group into partners and gave them 10 minutes to come up with the song they’d each use to introduce their books. Here are their choices:

  • Cristina Whitehawk chose the Beatles’ perfectly titled “Ticket to Ride” to introduce her book in progress, A Ticket to Ride, about overcoming cancer by embracing it, rather than fighting it.
  • Tim Kelly selected Three Doors Down’s “Kryptonite” to tell us about his book in progress, Brothers in Blood, which features characters with superhuman powers.
  • Tim Benson chose “It’s Easy,” by JJ Cale and Eric Clapton, to introduce his forthcoming political novel, King of the Trailer Park.
  • Lesley Sudders, who writes under the pen name L.S. Brierfield, gave us Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me” as an intro to her fantasy novel with the working title of Posie, because many of the characters are not who they seem to be.
  • Eduardo Cerviño, whose pseudonym is E.C. Brierfield, chose “In Cuba,” by renowned Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, to introduce his forthcoming book, Alligator Island, based on the last years he lived in Cuba during the Castro revolution.3d cover
  • David Waid chose “Adagio for Strings” to tell us about Conjurers, his forthcoming historical fantasy novel, because he believes it captures the mood and feel of the novel.
  • And I gave the group John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” What better song to introduce the story of a man who leaves life as he knows it to travel the world for two years? Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is a little bit love story, a little bit travelogue, a little bit social consciousness, and a lot about a guy who’s just trying to figure out what he wants out of life.

So if you had to choose a song to introduce, explain, or accompany your book, what would it be? Tell us in the comments. And feel free to give us a link to the song and/or your blog or website.

Here’s to letting the music flow!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

We’re six weeks into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

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The Art of Captivation: What makes us LOVE that book, movie, song…?

You probably have one of your own. That CD or MP3 you’ve listened to 1,000 times. For me, it’s the first 3 songs from U2’s Joshua Tree (Side A for you old-school vinyl enthusiasts). I’m not sure what it is about The Edge’s primal guitar beat that is so captivating, but it is as intoxicating to me as any drink. I hear the intro to “The Streets Have No Name” and I want to climb inside the music. Add an open car window on the freeway at midnight, and I’m in heaven.

Right now, you might be relating, or thinking I have terrible taste in that overblown Irish quartet. The point isn’t that you agree with my taste, but that you can relate to the concept of music you absolutely love.

 

These passionate responses are not exclusive to music. What about that movie you’ve watched dozens of times? The painting that mesmerizes you? The book that’s falling apart, you’ve read it so many times?

What makes them so special? Although there are general success indicators, the answer to that question is personal to each of us.

For example, the music industry has distilled the prediction of hit records (primarily from new artists) down to a science. Ever wondered why so many hits have such a similar sound? It might be related to the fact that music researchers in labs hook up test subjects to electrodes and measure their responses to numbers of beats, rhythms, and tones. The studios then generally take risks only on those artists whose music meets the standards predicted by the research.

Similarly, a guy decided to research what makes an Academy Award-winning movie. He got copies of 25 years’ worth of Oscar winners, watched them, and dissected and recorded the similarities between them. Then, he turned his research into a screenwriting class for which he charges thousands of dollars. Not surprisingly, many of his students sell their scripts and see them made into films.

Even with these behind-the-scenes “manipulations,” not every song the studios release becomes a hit, nor does every screenplay from this man’s class become a movie. They are indicators, though.

One thing I’ve observed about most popular art forms is that they’re usually of decent quality. Of course, every now and then a lousy book or movie finds a cult following, but more often than not, the things we like as a culture are pretty good. However, even the most popular books, movies, and music will never appeal to everyone.

As a personal example, it’s just in the last 15 years that I’ve begun to like the Beatles. And to this day, I’m still not a fan of one of the most popular bands of all time, The Rolling Stones. Both inarguably quality artists, but one appeals to me much more than the other, and even that one took some time to grow on me.

What does all of this have to do with you and marketing your book? A few quick reminders:

  • If you want to sell books, make the best book you can.
  • There are success formulas; one of them may work for you.
  • When it comes right down to it, taste is individual. Some readers will resonate with you; those are the ones you want to find and cultivate.
  • Even if you hit a home run with your book, there will be some people who don’t like it.

Study the movies, music, and books you love; pay attention to what about them captivates you. Are there hints you can glean about developing and capturing a similar passion in your readers?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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