5 Marketing Tips For Success From A Best Selling Author

Not only do you have to improve your writing, but you’re going to have to wear the hat of a marketer. This is why.

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Although the internet age has allowed anyone to find an audience for their work, the noise can sometimes be overwhelming. That’s why you need to keep marketing at the top of your mind before you even start writing. I just read a great article by Dr. John Yoeman on what some of the best selling authors do to give them a marketing edge. He outlines the novelist Kathy Reichs and some of her techniques. Here are 5 that I feel are the most important:

1. Have a memorable author name

Kathy Reichs is the author’s own name.

It’s short. It’s distinctive.

It’s legible on a Kindle.

If your real name is terse and memorable, use it.

But suppose you were born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski or Rodney William Whitaker?

Best use a pseudonym. The first became Joseph Conrad and the other, Trevanian.

2. Keep your title short

Choose a brief emotive title. Pack it with meaning, menace and drama.

Why short? Your cover will shrink to a fingernail on Kindle and other mobile devices. So make it legible!

James Patterson typically uses terse or one word titles: Fang, Game Over, Private, The Fire

So does Lee Child: Make Me, Personal, Never Go Back, The Affair, 61 Hours.

So does Kathy Reichs: Cross Bones, Devil Bones, Bare Bones, Bones To Ashes

3. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short

Note Reichs’ sentences in the extract above. They average just six words. Her paragraphs are typically no longer than five lines and often just one line.

That’s the style of modern tabloid journalism. If you’re writing commercial i.e. popular fiction, study media like The Huffington Post.

Short units of meaning. Simple words.

If you aspire to Literature you can ramble on forever. Insert poetry, obscure words, semi-colons, lots of commas,  and even—yes, I’ll let you do it—dependent clauses (like the one you’ve just read). 

It will kill your sales. But no matter.

You might win the Booker Prize and gain bestseller status that way.

4. Create a main character that mirrors your target reader

Reichs’s heroine is Prof. Temperance (Tempe) Brennan.

Tempe is lovable, scatty, attractive—and flawed. She’s a recovering alcoholic in early middle age. Her IQ is supposed to be off the radar, but she often acts like a child.

She’s a ‘heroine’ in the classic sense—perpetually getting into perils of her own making but saved at the 11th hour by her own virtues.

She’s what every female reader of Reichs’ thrillers wants to be.

Reichs also offers us Ryan, Tempe’s off/on boyfriend. He’s a handsome street-wise macho cop. He’s deeply flawed. In his teens, he ran with gangs. He has a drug-addict daughter and bad memories. He lives with demons.

In her two protagonists, Reichs presents idealized versions of her own target readers, female and male. Do the same.

5. Use a ‘series’ title

Since 2005, when Kathy Reichs’ adult thrillers were dramatized in the TV seriesBones, they have all contained the word ‘Bones’ in their titles.

A series title builds a ‘brand’. Readers who like one novel will confidently buy the next.

They know that the novels will probably have the same familiar characters, settings or themes, as Reichs’ do. Certainly, they’ll be in the same genre.

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