Written by Carissa Magras
Published: June 10, 2019 | Last Updated: June 17, 2019
When Katie came to me, she had all the “right” pieces in place. A website. Six different social media platforms. An active blog. Regular giveaways. Podcast interviews. A Facebook group she created and managed. A network of authors who traded ‘shoutouts’ and liked each other’s pages. But she only had 2,177 fans to show for it all – and it was taking around 20 hours a week to manage!
Now, just a year and a half later, she spends less than 3 hours a week on marketing and spends the rest of her time writing her award-winning novel series, running a six-figure ghostwriting agency for multi-millionaires, and raising her two kids in the mountains of Colorado.
And believe it or not – she has more fans than ever before (21,881, to be exact – with over 18,000 of those active and engaged!)
This probably sounds like a pipe dream. But there’s only one difference between her “before” and “after.” — She stopped trying to force anyone and everyone through a sales funnel and turned her entire marketing process into a ‘virtual bookstore’ instead.
Here’s what I mean…
Instead of implementing traditional online marketing strategies (and fighting uphill to grow your platform and sell your books), mimic the path that readers are already psychologically conditioned to follow when buying a book.
When you walk into a brick-and-mortar bookstore to browse for a new book or two, you immediately head to your favorite genre. Once there, you begin skimming the spines and front-covers, looking for a book that catches your eye and speaks to you. Grabbing it off the shelf, what do you do next? Flip it over to the back, of course. If the book still has you interested, you open it up (usually to the first page of the first chapter) and give it a quick skim to ensure you like the writer’s style and what they have to say.
During this process, you’re subconsciously analyzing the book to see if it passes specific checkpoints before giving it the stamp of approval and taking it to the checkout counter for purchase.
Most people know the steps they take in a bookstore when directly asked, but very few are aware that the steps exist before I bring it to their attention. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of it until one day in a Barnes & Nobles, my friend JJ and I were discussing book marketing while she looked for a new book in the “Christian Life” section. She was doing her best not to pull her hair out while I tried explaining different online marketing strategies (most of which she was already doing in one way or another, with little results to show for it all).
It was that moment when I looked down at JJ analyzing a book in her hand and it hit me:
There is a predictable path that we all follow as book buyers, that traditional online marketing techniques don’t take people through.
No wonder she had marketing migraines and was ready to give up her writing career! Everything she was doing – at the advice of the “gurus” who made their living on Content Creation – was designed to sell courses, coaching, and blenders. Not books!
At the time I was the Marketing Director for a multi-million dollar company doing work for the White House, Smithsonian, and Ford Estate, so the potential of this brand new (and yet, completely timeless) light-bulb-moment idea fascinated me.
I immediately went home and mapped out an entire marketing system that took people through, what I call, The Book Buyer’s Path. In other words, a path online that follows the same path in bookstores – and passes the same psychological checkpoints so readers are excited to become your fans (instead of being pushed manipulatively into getting something they really don’t want or need, like most online marketing tactics perpetuate).
After putting this method through rigorous testing with multiple author friends, it was clear I had discovered the missing piece that allowed authors’ marketing to work FOR them instead of against them.
Now I want to be clear:
This is a nuanced process. It’s not quite as simple as duplicating Katie’s website, sitting back, and watching readers roll in.
There are things going on “behind the scenes” that turn this virtual bookstore into a platform-building sales machine that gets your work into all the right people’s homes and hearts.
It’s more than I can cover in a single article.
But I can give you the first step…