Equipping Writers for Success
The Writing Life
The Writing Life
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by Ann Brandt
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Begin with the three Ws: What, Who, Why. For example, a book on caregiving might look like this: ( Title of your book) offers information and encouragement for people caring for seriously ill patients. Notice the use of the active verb "offers." Prospective readers want to know what they will be getting for their money. Applying those three elements, you could say, "'A Caregiver's Story' is a how-to book that informs and encourages anyone caring for a seriously ill patient."
Another tool when creating your marketing statement involves playing with various sentences and scenes. For example: "_____(Your book)______what you have always wanted to know." This fill-in-the-blank exercise could translate into "'Raising Teenagers' shares secrets that you have always wanted to know."
Or, try "________explains how you can______." This exercise could read, "'Raising Teenagers' explains how you can cope with the emotional roller coasters of teenage emotions." Try filling in the blanks and perhaps creating new patterns to try. You will find yourself getting better with each example. This exercise serves two purposes: crafting an effective marketing statement, and pulling you more deeply into the purpose of your book and the needs of your readers. Write down all the exercises and practice saying them. Try various versions out on your family and friends, watching their reactions. The object is to catch the interest of prospective readers in 30 seconds.
Take your time forming your statement. First, brainstorm as many one- or two-sentence statements as you can. Set them aside for a while, and then look at them with a clear eye and mind. Pick out one statement to pare and improve. Try it out on friends, family, and whoever can give you valuable and honest feedback. If you participate in a writing group, members can help. Have your potential readers ask questions about the book's content. Nothing brings out your book's focus like hearing prospective readers ask questions about what they can learn from reading your work. Once you have settled on a useful statement, memorize it so it's as familiar as your own name.
To analyze your book a step further, ask yourself these types of questions. What approach do you take in your book? Is it your purpose to entertain? Amuse? Inform? Or do you strive for a combination of all three? It's helpful to know when you've made someone laugh or cry -- feel happy or sad. What are you giving your readers? How will reading your book change someone's life? This feedback lets you know you will be reaching readers and how you will affect them. You succeed when you take your reader to a deeper emotional and intellectual level.
Again using the example of a book on caregiving, think how you make that topic come alive in the mind of your reader. Will you talk about the pain and the joy of the experience? Or do you take a clinical approach with facts and figures about current research on caregiving? Imagine your readers and what you can teach them about your topic. What encouragement and inspiration will they take away from reading your book?
Endorsements are another important aspect of selling your book. Even with self-publishing, you can usually get at least several short endorsements for the back cover. Most self-publishers and all traditional publishers send you what is called a galley. A galley is an unbound copy of your book for you to proofread. If you are self-publishing, send back the corrected galley along with the endorsements you've collected to the design team for them to include on the back cover.
Most royalty houses take care of the endorsements, but it's a good idea to have a couple of endorsements ready in case editors want them. To prepare for this part of promoting your book, browse the section of the bookstore or library in which your book will appear. Check the back covers or front section for names of endorsers and what they say about a particular book. Make a list of those you might ask to write comments on your book. Try to include at least one name that is widely known to readers.
If you have endorsements or a foreword written by an expert on your topic, be sure to include them with your book proposal. If, for example, your book's topic is health care, you might approach a health care professional who specializes in the same field of medicine as the topic of your book. Of course, each of these individuals gets a complimentary copy of the book when it comes off the press.
Many times you will find that you have filled the needs of readers when you least expect it. You might get fan mail. Treasure these messages and return the correspondence, especially if you plan to publish another book on the same kind of topic. You will be building a readership, the most solid way to build a base for selling. One satisfied reader will tell others about your book, thereby triggering interest which will result in sales. Operating a successful business in any field involves satisfied customers recommending your service or product. Writing is no exception.
In writing a book, you are telling a story to one imaginary reader. In selling a book, you are reaching for a broad audience with a marketing statement containing universal appeal. Once you have mastered that tool you are ready to offer your book in any situation in which you are trying to attract readers.
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Ann Brandt's latest book, A Caregiver's Story: Coping with a Loved One's Life-Threatening Illness, is available in ebook format. Visit her website at http://www.annkbrandt.com.