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Sell_Your_Book_Like_Wildfire_coverToday, we’re fortunate to have Rob Eagar, founder of Wildfire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell books like wildfire. He has trained over 400 authors and worked with numerous New York Times bestselling authors. Rob’s new book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, is considered the bible of book marketing. I’m currently reading his book, and already I’ve taken away a list of “must-do’s” to be incorporated into my own marketing plan.

Thanks for joining us today, Rob! I know one topic on all of our authors’ minds is platform. What one thing should every author know about building a platform?
As a novelist, you must become an object of interest who can make people feel deep emotions. For example, Stephen King is the master of horror. John Grisham is the master of legal-based thrillers. Wanda Brunstetter is the master of simple living Amish stories. All three are multiple New York Times bestsellers, because they’re adept at making the reader feel. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. And, this principle is especially true for fiction readers. If you want to sell more fiction, you must attract people from an emotional standpoint and build that emotion into your marketing (website, media hooks, free resources, social media, etc.)

That makes sense. As writers, we’re used to building an emotional connection through our fiction, but often it doesn’t translate into our marketing efforts. With so many marketing activities pulling us in different directions, where should we place our focus?
First, define your kindling readers (see Chapter 2 in “Sell Your Book Like Wildfire” for details) and then concentrate your marketing on where the largest groups of those kindling readers congregate, whether that’s online or offline. For example, Garth Stein, bestselling author “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” found that getting in front of readers at racing events was a great strategy. Bestselling novelist, Wanda Brunstetter, goes on regular tours to conduct book signings in Amish areas around America. Other writers might stay home and find that writing articles for popular blogs connects with their kindling readers. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for all authors. You have to customize your approach to your own audience.
 
What one tool or activity do you think is underutilized for fiction and why?
Probably email newsletters and contests. I’ve seen those tools work well for several of my fiction clients. But, I don’t see other authors sending good newsletters on a consistent and professional basis. And, I don’t see many novelists having fun with their readers through fun contests that spread word of mouth. You can’t just give away a free copy of your book and expect people to get excited…that’s boring. Be creative and make the contest something that readers would want to share with friends.
I know I enjoy contests and activities that allow me to interact with my favorite authors in a fun way. On the other side of the coin, what one activity do you think is overrated?
Probably social media. Everybody talks about Facebook and Twitter, and I’m fine with those tools. But, they haven’t proven to bring that much more value than a great author website, newsletters, speaking tour, and media interviews. In fact, I find that social media gives novelists a poor excuse to sit in their office and think they’re marketing. When, in reality, they’re hiding from conducting more effective promotional tactics. Marketing is work, just like writing.
Marketing is definitely work, and sometimes it requires a specialized set of skills. When should an author hire outside help rather than oversee her marketing herself?
If you don’t know what you’re doing, you should get outside help. I hired an editor when I wrote my books, because I don’t pretend to know everything about writing. If you want to be a professional author who makes a living from your novels, you’d be wise to get instruction from a marketing expert who can help you take your platform to a higher level. However, be sure to take instruction from an expert who has actually succeeded in what you’re trying to accomplish. There are too many so-called “coaches” out there who have never written a book or never sold many copies. As the old adage says, “Don’t take financial advice from a broke person.” The same idea applies to marketing.

What’s the difference between a marketing firm like WildFire and a publicist? I’m not a publicist. Instead, I’m a consultant and coach. For example, I don’t line up radio and TV interviews for my author clients. Instead, I teach authors how to get radio and TV interviews on their own for free. More importantly, I teach my clients how to master a media interview so that it turns into lots of book sales.

Thank you for your wonderful insights today, Rob. I think we’ve all taken away some surprising information… and some of us are breathing a sigh of relief that we don’t need to be spending every waking hour on Facebook.
You can find out more about Rob’s free advice, instructional resources, and coaching services for authors at: www.startawildfire.com.
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