Find A Need and Fill It
New books are continually entering the marketplace. It is one of those realities of the market which every author needs to know about and acknowledge. There were over 400,000 new books published in 2007 which is a lot of books when you consider the typical big box bookstore only has 10,000 to 15,000 titles.
I was amused to see Internet marketing expert Penny Sansevieri's tweet about an email from an author who proclaimed, "I don't need to market my book because people will just find it." Right. It's like throwing a party when you don't send any invitations then wondering why no one came to it. (As a complete aside, I encourage you to sign up for Penny's free newsletter. Why? To confirm your subscription, you receive a seven-page list of Top Author Marketing Experts Confidential Contacts. A free resource for every author or would-be author.)
With the volume of books coming into the market and places like magazines and newspapers cutting back on their review space, it is increasingly difficult to get readers--and reviews of your books. Here's where I'm going to with this post: that situation creates an opportunity or a need which you can fill--even if you've never been published or are much published. How are you supporting good books that you discover? Are you telling other people about these books (even if you don't get paid for that proclamation)? It can pay off for you.
Last week I pointed out the free and public section of the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter. besides great articles from professional writers, this section also reviews how-to write books for writers. I was reading this December newsletter (actually the printed version of my member copy) and noticed Sandra Dark's excellent review of a Writer's Digest book, Mastering Online Research (page 14).
For several months, I have had Mastering Online Research on my bookshelf and I had never opened the pages of it. From reading the review, I opened my copy and began to read it and quickly discovered a valuable resource which I was not using. I could have quit doing anything additional with this book yet I had invested the time to read the book and wondered if I could do anything additional with it. I looked at the Amazon page for this book. While it released in July 2007 and I assume promoted as a part of the Writer's Digest Book Club to thousands of writers, I was surprised to see that no one had written a customer review about the book on Amazon.
There are many reasons for no one writing a customer review for the book. Possibly no one reminded the author about the importance of these customer reviews. People make buying decisions constantly at the largest bookstore on the planet (Amazon) based on these customer reviews. It does not speak well of a book when there is nothing there and the book has been in the marketplace almost a year and a half. I discovered a need which I could easily fill so I wrote my brief, positive review of Mastering Online Research.
Besides posting that review on Amazon, since I'm the creator of those words, I'm going to repurpose my review here: "Effective research is one of the critical essentials for every writer or would-be writer. In MASTERING ONLINE RESEARCH, you can learn from a master researcher Maura Shaw. Whether you need some basics on using a bootlean operator to narrow your search (fully explained in the text) or need to learn advance search techniques, this comprehensive guide will give you the step-by-step insight."
"It's too easy to neglect the range of possibilities with millions of pages of information online. This up-to-date resource will expand your research skills and help you save time while making effective use of the Internet. I learned a great deal from this book and plan to refer to it often in my own research and writing efforts. I recommend this well-done title."
As someone who loves books and writing, I encourage you to follow a similar pattern for books that you read and love and want others to know about the value of that book. You can take a few minutes to write a positive customer review.
After your review appears, I recommend you take a couple of additional steps--to help yourself and the relationship building process in the marketplace. First, look for a means to contact that author about your review. For most authors, it's fairly easy to find their contact information. These authors will be appreciative and delighted to hear from you. Second, look for a way to tell the publisher about your review. Usually you will be contacting the publicity department for a particular publisher. Too often these publicity people are on information overload. They are promoting way too many titles and can't keep up with who is doing what to help their promotional efforts. They will be delighted to hear whatever you have done to promote their author and their book titles. This brief contact from you will build some good will for you in the future.
You can't imagine how it will pay off in the future. Just think, it came from finding a need and filling it.