Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ask PZM: April 2011

Q:  Many authors say they're blank when it comes to convincing readers to buy their books. Is there a cure for this?
First, let me say that we don’t want to “convince” readers to buy our books.  We want to enter into online or offline relationships with potential readers in order to encourage these readers to want to buy our books.
Second, we have to realize that not everyone who is a book reader is our potential fan.  Some people only read fiction and some people only read nonfiction.  Some read only specific genres in each area.
Third, this means that we can’t take it personally if someone isn’t interested in buying our book.  And we can’t take it personally even if, in our eyes, the person does fit the profile of who would enjoy our book.
For example, you might have written a diet book and have an overweight friend for whom the book would be very helpful.  But your overweight friend may not be ready to deal with her weight issues, so she doesn’t want your helpful book.
Or you may have written a very thrilling horror fiction book.  You friend may go to lots of horror films, but she may not read horror books because, when she reads these, she puts too much of herself into the story.
Fourth, book lovers may not have the funds these days to buy more books, the room to store more books, or the time to read more books.  (You should see my pile of “to be read” books that I’ve bought.)
Fifth, is your book available on Kindle?  Many people now only want to read books on Kindle.  It provides immediate gratification and takes up no room on overloaded book shelves.  Plus it is very light to carry when traveling.
Sixth, there are thousands and thousands of good books (traditionally published and self-published) jockeying for our attention along with YouTube videos, social media sites, TV, films, etc. 
Seventh, people may have an emotional reaction to your book that has nothing to do with you.  When my Vietnam-era novel MRS. LIEUTENANT was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist, I thought a baby boomer who at the time owned a baby boomer site would be very interested in the novel.
Instead I got the strangest runaround, and when I pressed for why the book hadn’t been accepted for review on the site, I was sent an email that reprimanded me for using partial sentence structure.
(Now for my rant:  I am very well aware of correct sentence structure.  But novels deal with interior thoughts of people.  We don’t always think in full sentences, nor do we always speak that way.)
When I calmed down, I realized that something in the book upset her – something that had nothing to do with me.  Perhaps her father, brother or husband died in Vietnam.  Perhaps she was arrested as a war protestor.  Whatever it was, her hostility had nothing to do with the actual book.
Getting people interested in your book
From my perspective as a social media marketer, a good way to have people become interested in your book is to form relationships with these people online.  You can start making connections by commenting on blogs such as this one and by participating in book groups on social media sites.
Yes, this takes consistent effort over time and doesn’t promise any results.  But at the least you will get to interact with some very interesting people.
And I’ve also been asked about how book authors can use Twitter to connect with potential fans.
Twitter is something that truly takes consistent time and effort to learn how to do effectively.  There’s no short answer to this question. 
So here’s my offer to you:
My business partner Yael K. Miller and I are conducting a series of three social media webinars, all with the recordings available afterwards.  And we are showing click-by-click the basic steps for getting set up effectively on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The series is $75, and if you use the coupon code JOYLENE, you’ll get the three-part series for $50. 
Although the first webinar is over and the second is today, you’ll have access to the recordings for all three webinars when the recordings are ready. 
Plus next week is the Twitter webinar.  If you are on the webinar live, you can type in questions during the webinar.
You can sign up by going to www.millermosaicllc.com/3-part-series and click through to the shopping cart and put JOYLENE in the coupon code box and click APPLY and watch the price go from $75 to $50.
Hope to see you on the Twitter webinar.
© 2011 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic.  You can learn about her fiction and nonfiction books at her Amazon author page at http://budurl.com/PZMAmazonpage

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is going to be interviewed via Twitter (a twitterview) on Wednesday, April 6, at 4 pm Eastern about her novel "Mrs. Lieutenant."

You can participate even if you are not on Twitter:  At the start of the interview go to twitter.com and put #emlyn in the search box.  You will then see all the real-time tweets associated with this interview.


  1. Thanks for opening my eyes to why some people will never be interested in my books.

  2. The thing to remember, Kathy, is that as many of those who might not be interested, there are double the number who will. Thanks for stopping by. Hope your week is excellent.

  3. A very interesting post, PZM always has something useful to contribute.

  4. Hi Joylene .. always good to read Phyllis' posts .. and something to learn from .. and looking at the books out there - which have for some quirky reason become hugely successful .. could equally have bitten the dust! Or been in the middle .. there's nothing so queer as folk! Cheers Hilary

  5. Hi Carole. So glad you stopped by. Yes, Phyllis is a terrific asset to any writer. Hope you're having a marvelous Tuesday.

  6. You are so right, Hilary. We all have our little idiosyncrasies. Even I love books that my friends think are less than wonderful. Phyllis helps me to remember that.

  7. Ric -- thanks! It's nice seeing you. Hope life's being good. Enjoy your week.

  8. Thanks for the insight. I'm used to seeing books from a reviewer's viewpoint, being a reviewer. However, soon I'll be looking at this from a published author's view.

    Thanks, again.


  9. Hi Chris. Glad you could stop by. Hope your week's going well.

  10. Very interesting post.

  11. Thanks, Susanne. Hope your day's going well.

  12. Thank you to everyone who has left such nice comments about this post.

    And here's something interesting for ChrisChat:

    A screenwriter told me he works for a company that gets people to attend (free) screenings of upcoming movies. He says about 100 reviewers are invited and about 200 regular people.

    He says this is because the movie reviewers are jaded. Having regular people in the audience who actually respond to the laughs or tears can influence what the reviewers think about a film.

    Food for thought for all of us.

    P.S. I'm going to have a twitterview at 4 pm Eastern on April 6 on Twitter. At that time put #emlyn in the search box at http://twitter.com to follow the live interview about my novel "Mrs. Lieutenant."

    And, yes, I'm somewhat nervous about coming up with intelligent-sounding answers on the fly.

  13. Thanks Joylene for this common sense approach to book selling. I learnt a lot.


    L'Aussies Travel Blog A - Z Challenge - D is for Darfur

  14. Best of luck tomorrow, Phyllis. I have to go to the city, so I'm not sure if I'll be back in time. I'll catch what I can. Thanks again for being such a great source of information and help.

  15. Thank you, Phyllis, for helping to understand the mystery of selling books to readers. Lots to think about here. Thanks, Joylene for posting this informative article.

  16. The Twitterview will be posted afterwards on http://www.novelpublicity.com -- and I'm limbering up my fingers to type quickly.

    Plus I've just learned that, if you're not using tweetdeck to follow the interview, you'll need to refresh to see the newest tweets.

  17. Here's the link to the twitterview transcript -- http://bit.ly/gtoVYf

    And I meant to type "Entered" where I typed "Enter." Risk of typing too quickly.

  18. What good advice, as always! Thank you!

  19. Hi JQ. I'm so glad you stopped by. I love sharing Phyllis with everyone. She's my lucky charm. I've learned more from her than I could have ever imagined.

  20. @Karen, you're very welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week.

    @Phyllis, I wasn't home in time to listen to Twitter, but I'll check it out today. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for making marketing doable.

    @Carol, hi! Thanks for stopping by. Hope your weekend is fabulous! You go, girl!

  21. Great insight into the who and why of reader appeal. Thanks, Phyllis and Joylene.

    I haven't become a fan of LinkedIn, but between blogging, Facebook and Twitter have expanded my online relationships far beyond what I expected. I appreciate your point that specifically trying to convince people to buy something isn't nearly as effective as simply building a relationship with them. I get turned off by all the FB posts and tweets that literally shout, "You should read/buy my book." I even block some of those people now because the frequency of their 'in your face' posts have become little more than spam.

    I wasn't available for your Twitter chat but will be checking out the transcript today.

  22. Thanks for stopping by, Carol. I always appreciate your opinions. And I'm smacking myself because it never occurred to me to block those FB posts.


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