I am delighted to share my blog this week with fellow Oak tree Press author, Ann K. Howley. Her first book is Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad. Her post certainly made me examine what I can do to promote my work and help others along the way Let's give a good "Write Away" welcome to this new author on the publishing scene.
“Solve, don’t sell.”
That’s what Beth Caldwell, a local businesswoman, who is a powerhouse leader amongst women entrepreneurs, said in one of her live webinars a year ago.
“Nobody wants you to sell them something to them. They want you to solve their problems.”
I was skeptical. After all, I was the brand new, baby author of my first book, a humorous memoir about growing up in Southern California during the Sixties and Seventies. How on earth were my funny stories going to solve anyone’s problems?
But I understood her point. I know enough about marketing to know that consumers essentially buy things that they think will make their lives easier, more organized, convenient, less painful and, of course, sexier. Everyone has certain pain points in their lives… wrinkles, a closet full of clothes that no longer fit, or an overgrown lawn. That’s why we buy cosmetics that make us look younger, clothing that make us look slimmer, and self-propelling lawn mowers we barely have to push to cut the grass.
People buy things that solve their problems. So the key, Beth claimed, is to know where the pain is.
It all made perfect sense if I wanted to sell kitchen gadgets or snake oil, but I still didn’t know how this applied to a small-press author who was trying to figure out how to promote her first book.
“It doesn’t matter what your product or service is,” Beth explained. “You still have to find the pain points in people’s lives. And you do that by listening to what people say. What questions do people ask you the most? What do they want to know?”
I wracked my brain thinking about this, but I still didn’t think it made a lot of sense for me. I just couldn’t see how my book was going to be anything other than an entertaining and enjoyable read. But I took Beth’s advice to heart and I started to listen to people. As I told my friends, family, friends-of-friends and friends-of-family about writing a memoir, I began to hear the same thing over and over.
“I always wanted to write a memoir,” people wistfully told me. “How did you do it?”
Then I realized something important. THAT was the pain point. People kept telling me they always wanted to write stories about their lives and they just didn’t know how or they needed a little guidance to start.
How could I have missed it? That had been MY pain point. For decades, I wanted to write. I had stories practically bursting out of me. And when I finally started to write, it wasn’t because I knew what I was doing, but I believed I had a story to tell and I was determined to write it. I was elated when Oak Tree Press published my book in 2014.
Small press and indie authors know that book marketing is never as much about selling as it is about connecting with people. And if Beth Caldwell was right, then maybe I could connect with people who were just like me - people who wanted to write a memoir and needed the encouragement to try.
I had previously called several libraries to ask if I could come in to talk about my book, but more than one librarian warned me that sometimes nobody comes to author talks. This time I asked a local librarian if she thought her patrons might appreciate a presentation on how to write a memoir. She immediately scheduled a date. Since my first presentation in January 2015, I have been invited to speak to many library groups and organizations. The local community college asked if I would do two intensive 4-week workshops on writing and publishing a memoir. Later this year, I will be speaking at a writer’s conference and at another book event where I am, by far, the least well-known author amongst all the other speakers.
I’m not a bestselling author and I don’t pretend to be a literary genius. I still have much to learn. But I’m a proud, published author and I have learned many things about writing and publishing in my own writer’s journey over the last few years, and I am eager to share my experience. When people who attend my workshops buy my book, I feel like it’s an added bonus.
I love when people read my book. I genuinely appreciate every Amazon reader who has honored my book with a 5-star review. But the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment I have experienced as an author is to offer advice to people who want to write and to help, in some small way, to solve someone’s problem.
Beth Caldwell was indeed right when she said “solve, don’t sell.”
It was the best book promotion advice I ever got.
Ann K. Howley, who is a regular contributor to Pittsburgh Parent Magazine, was thrilled when her humorous memoir, Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad, won an Author Zone Book Award in October 2014.
Do-Gooder Gone Bad Blog http://annkhowley.com/blog/