Sunday, October 16, 2011

Part II: Marketing--More Secrets of John Locke's Success

Back in July I posted Marketing: The Secret of John Locke's Success by Randy Ingermanson but never followed up with Part 2. Here it is for those who have contacted me. And for the record, How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months is now 2.99 on Amazon.

Marketing: More Secrets of John Locke's Success

Last month I began an analysis of John Locke's lastest book on marketing fiction, HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS IN 5 MONTHS, which you can get on Amazon for $4.99.

Locke has some great ideas, and my goal here is to organize them into something we can all can use -- a set of steps to follow when marketing a novel.

As I noted last month, there are six main tasks you need to accomplish in creating and marketing your
fiction. Locke doesn't list these anywhere in so many words, nor does he give you time estimates for how long they ought to take. So here's my list:

* Define your General Target Audience (days of work)
* Create your book (months of work)
* Create your platform (weeks of work)
* Launch your book (one day of work)
* Grow your platform (ongoing effort for years)
* Market your book (ongoing effort for months)

Let's look at these elements in turn:

Defining Your General Target Audience

I talked about the first of these, defining your General Target Audience, in  last month's marketing
column. If you haven't done this task yet, there's just no time like the present, so go have a look now. All back issues of this e-zine are archived here:

Creating your book

Creating your book is of course a topic I've been teaching in this e-zine for years. Most of what I teach
is summarized and organized in my best-selling book WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES.

The one main point that John Locke makes which I believe is different from most authors is that he very consciously writes a novel that he believes will delight his General Target Audience -- and nobody else. He really doesn't care if he offends everybody else.

There is real freedom in writing just for a chosen few readers. Make them incredibly happy and don't worry about anyone else. That's the Locke strategy, and I think it's exactly right.

As a matter of fact, you might write a book for some subset of your General Target Audience. This would be the Specific Target Audience for that particular book.

Locke has done that with his western novels, which aren't for all of his fans -- they're only for those of
his fans who love westerns.

Creating your platform

There are certain standard elements of any writer's platform, and John Locke has nothing new to say here. His platform uses the same basic parts as anyone else's.

Here are the basic elements of a platform. Again, I'm giving time estimates for how long each of these
elements should take:

* Create a web site (weeks of work)
* Create an e-mail list for your fans (one day)
* Create a blog (about a week)
* Create a Facebook page (less than one day)
* Create a Twitter account (less than one hour)

All of these are standard parts of your platform. You don't have to have all of them, but most writers have several of these elements. I've listed them in the order which I'd suggest doing them, although there's nothing sacred about this order.

Since we're trying to understand in this article what John Locke is doing differently from everybody else, I'm not going to go into details about how to do any of the above. I've written tons of material in the past in this column on web sites, e-mail lists, and blogging.

You can find excellent books on all of these topics.
Launching your book
You can launch your book in one day, simply by announcing it to your platform. Add a page to your web site with all the details about your book, including an excerpt and directions on where to buy it.
Send an announcement to your e-mail list, giving them a good reason to buy the book right now.

Post a blog entry announcing your book. Ditto for Facebook. Tweet your book.

There, your book is launched. Again. John Locke does this the same way everybody else does.

Grow your platform
It's not that hard to grow your platform. You do this by adding good content to your web site, answering your e-mail, and posting on your blog and Twitter and Facebook.

Your goals are to increase the amount of traffic to your web site, the number of fans on your e-mail list, the number of people who read your blog, the number of fans you have on Facebook, and the number of people who follow you on Twitter.

This takes time and happens slowly. It pays off whenever you launch a new book, because over time
you'll build an increasing number of people in your General Target Audience who now know about you.

By definition, your General Target Audience is the set of people who LOVE your work, so each book launch should get better as the years go by and your platform grows and grows.

Locke really doesn't say much about the mechanics of growing your platform. He does say that he answers all his e-mail himself, and he encourages fans to sign up for his e-mail announcement list. And he tweets a lot, building what he calls his Friendship Circle.

So what is it exactly, that John Locke is doing differently than everybody else? From our analysis
above, it's clear that he's doing most things the same as most authors.

The answer is that he tackles the final main task differently. Let's look at that now.
Market your book

Marketing is an ongoing effort that begins the day you launch your book and ends when your book goes out of print.

Locke does some blog interviews, just like most authors. He considers this to be mainly an exercise in
building name recognition, and he's probably right.

He also listens to his readers, and this is key. What is he listening for? He's listening to what it is they
like (and don't like) about his books.

By listening to readers, Locke is continually refining his understanding of his General Target Audience.

If a reader likes his book, Locke asks himself what it is in that particular reader that makes her like the

If a reader hates it, Locke asks what it is about that particular reader that makes him hate the book.

Where does Locke listen to his readers? He reads the Amazon reviews. He reads his e-mail. He reads the comments on his blog. He reads what people say about his books on Facebook and Twitter.

I think this is where Locke differs from most of us.

Most authors read a glowing Amazon review or a fawning e-mail and think, "Wow, I'm amazing!"

Locke thinks, "Wow, I understand my General Target Audience better now!"

Most authors read a scathing Amazon review or an angry e-mail and think, "Gack, either I must be awful or this reader is a jerk."
Locke thinks, "Well, that person sure isn't in my General Target Audience! I guess I understand who I'm NOT writing for a little better now. So how can I revise the marketing copy for the book to attract more of my General Target Audience and scare off those who aren't in it?"

Locke does two other things for his marketing, and these seem to me to be unique. Certainly, these are the things he considers to be different from what everyone else is doing:

* He writes "Loyalty Transfer Blogs."
* He taps into the "Viral Circle" on Twitter.

These are going to take some time to analyze, so I'll talk about them next month. They're related, so it
makes sense to treat them as two parts of the same basic idea. If you're in a hurry to learn about them
right now, go ahead and grab a copy of his book, HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS.

Here's a quick link to his book on Amazon, and of course this link includes my Amazon affiliate code,
because I think the book is darned good and therefore I highly recommend it:

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 26,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.


KarenG said...

Great post! I read his book and did much the same thing as you did here, applying his ideas to my own work and platform and interests. The mistake people are making is trying to copy what he did. Better to take his ideas and adapt them to oneself rather than slavishly copying his methods. What I like most about his approach is how business-like and focused it is. Most of us writers are artsy people with poor business brains, preferring instead to let our agents or publishers or the lucky break handle that end of it. But that approach doesn't work in today's climate.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great food for thought. I try to do some of these things, but not all for sure.