Now that I have officially introduce Mr. Eagar, the following are some of my notes from his workshop at the conference entitled "Book Marketing for the Promotionally Challenged" that relate to answering the question "What's your book about?":
Everything we buy is based on what is in it for us - we don't buy things unless we believe that we will be getting something out of it. Whether that's enjoyment, education, enrichment, encouragement, or even just the satisfaction of helping someone else out - we only spend money when we get something in return. It's a fact of life. So when marketing our books, it's important to identify what people will get out of it, and to do that, we need to make sure we appeal to their logic as well as their emotions.
~Logic makes people think.Both are essential in getting them to purchase our books. If they don't think they need it, they won't buy it. But even if they know they need it, they won't buy it unless they want it.
~Emotions make them act.
Therefore, when describing your book, you want to appeal to both their logic and their emotions. Here's how:
~Fiction: When describing your fiction book, describe what they will feel or experience through your book.The best way to accomplish the above is to find out what your readers want. You can do this through surveys or focus groups. Personally, I have had success just by following my readers on Facebook and/or Twitter and engaging in conversation with them. But I can't imagine how much more successful it would be to sit down in a focus group with them as Rob suggested. It could make the difference between Amazon bestseller and N.Y. bestseller...
~Nonfiction: For nonfiction, describe what the positive outcome will be, or how it will benefit them.
The next thing Rob discussed was how to talk about our books. When people ask us what we write about, they aren't asking "What's your book about?" They are asking, "What's in it for me?" The sooner we realize this, the better our marketing endeavors will be. Rob gave three steps to figuring out how to effectively answer that question:
- What drove you to write the book in the first place?
- Sample a test audience and ask them what result they experienced.
- Read the reviews that your book is generating.
The more effectively you can answer people when they ask what your book is about, the more likely they are to turn into "word of mouth warriors." For example - I have never read Rob's book, but I'm willing to recommend it to you because when he described it, he made it sound worth while.
Here's a personal example of how to answer (and not answer) the question: "What's your book about?" in reference to my "Teen Devotionals... for Girls!"series:
What I use to say:
"I write devotions for teen girls."
Are you dying to go out and buy a copy? No? Hmmm...
I said this because the people who ask are never teen girls. However, I'm sure they all know at least one, and had I answered the question differently they might have been excited to recommend it. Let's look at a different way to answer the question when thinking of what's in it for them instead of just what I write:
"I write encouraging devotions that help today's teen girls find their true beauty in Christ by applying God's Word to every aspect of their daily lives."
Are you a bit more interested? It was still only one short sentence, but it leaves the listeners with so much more - and that means that they are more likely to remember it and tell others about it. I might just have created a "word of mouth warrior" - someone who tells others about my book, and we all know that people are more likely to purchase a book that someone they know and trust recommends.
The best way to create a "word of mouth warrior" is to give them something to talk about. Make sure that you involve their senses if possible. If you have a copy of your book on hand, show it to them. If not, try to leave them with a bookmark or flyer about your book. And make sure to repeat the title more than once so they are more likely to remember it. Let them know what your book is about, but also give them a reason as to why someone (even if it's not them) would want to buy it.