I had a really good conversation with top music industry veteran, Rodney Alejandro, this week about music and books, and how the art of the hustle is completely different for recording artists vs. authors. The mindset is polar opposite. If an artist wants to make it, there’s none of the entitlement and complacency we often see in publishing. No, ‘if I write it, they will come,’ attitude.
What if a recording artist (in this case, Jamie Scallion, who has created a project with the help of the international bestselling band The Script) is also an author? This is now increasingly common (and is the case here, which is why we were having the conversation).
With Rodney’s permission, as I usually do not discuss my clients, ever, I’m talking about The Rock n Roll Diaries, the YA novel series Jamie has written based on his experiences as a singer in a band and touring with The Script, and the work we’re doing together to market it.
All artists in any kind of medium — whether you are a musician, artist, author, designer, whatever — have to hustle to connect with our consumers, right? Yet, as you well know, not every artist does so, particularly I find to my dismay, authors.
In talking with Rodney, he says that singers and bands start hustling when they are young, young young. They grab every single opportunity: singing in local talent shows, latching on to any local opps they can find (big and small), and now of course, YouTube, which has exploded opportunities for young artists. But, that’s still not enough.
They have to connect with fans, managers, record companies, agents etc., on social media, too! That fanbase, and early growth of their fanbase (pre-marketing), is essential to an artists’ success.
How does this translate to authors and books?
My experience has been this: most authors come to me, rather begrudgingly, after their book has failed to sell, after the book has been out for six months, disappointed and full of excuses:
They have no author platform, think social media is for kids, and still have a free blog on Blogger. In other words, no hustle.
This is decidedly not the case with me, as many of you know. I started hustling long before my own first two humor books came out in 2011 — I started building my author platform in 2008! Yes, I had a marketing and sales background, but it was also my own instinct regarding building relationships that came into play — I simply didn’t feel comfortable with the ‘hard sell.” I had spent seventeen years in Big Pharma, and had seen first-hand the benefits of building relationships with physicians, administrators, and even receptionists (aka, gatekeepers).
Books would be a different product, but the marketing and selling process is no different — connecting to the end-user is still critical. I didn’t know who I would be talking with — and with is the key word here — so I started there. Connecting with readers.
You build relationships with people; it’s not a one-way broadcast.
As for working with Jamie and the books, our approach is to focus on building relationships with fans, sharing fan art as you can see here, encouraging sales via the fan base. It’s all about the relationship building! Additionally, visuals are a huge part of the campaign and for good reason:
The good news for you is, it’s not too late. You can start now, identifying who you readers are, and building relationships with your demographic. And, in all likelihood, you’ll write more than one book, so building your base will also help with pre-marketing your next book.
Jamie and his team are everywhere: Twitter, FB, G+, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, and I think most importantly, they have a street team who is truly part of their team, whom they actively involve in promotion, creation of graphics, helping to get the word out about events, sales opps (signings, readings), and even charitable opportunities.
Connecting with their YA demo is crucial to sales, so the street team is helpful in this regard. With over 100 million daily users on Snapchat, over half of all users on Pinterest are women under the age of 35, and Instagram — well, if your reader base is YA, there’s no question you need to be on there! (You can find all the stats on Hubspot here).
Recording artists realize early on that music is a business, ergo, ‘the music business.’ They have a manager (even if it’s their mom or dad — hopefully, someone brimming with ideas like Rodney), a tax accountant, a street team, wardrobe, all of it, because they understand that making an impression with fans is crucial. Fans buy records (or in 21st century speak, download tracks).
While an author doesn’t need all the optics, we still need to understand writing is a business. Publishing is a business. It’s almost cute when an author says, ‘I just want to write,’ because it’s so naive and childlike. I’m sure most singers just want to sing, but that’s not the reality, is it? Unless you have the money to hire a team to handle the business side of things for you (and even then, you’ll still be the one connecting with readers), you — the author — are the brand. Step up.
Book marketing is not a choice if you want people to read your book, to even know about it, if you want to make writing your career. Own that marketing is part of publishing, and that you are now the owner of that business!
Hustle, authors. Perfect the art of the hustle as Jamie, Rodney, recording artists, and successful authors have done for years. Or don’t.
The choice is yours.
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.