Last year I viewed a webinar hosted by a leading professional advertising organization about the neuroscience of marketing. I’ve also spent some time reading up on studies by behavioral psychologist about what makes us do the things we do … and how to use this basic nature to guide marketing.
Over and over, the same messages emerged:
This should sound familiar. This is what writing and art instructors have been teaching since the beginnings of communication. Cave paintings draw your eyes from the charging warriors to the doomed buffalo; Juliet’s pain staggers us to her doomed fate with Romeo.
Communication is a journey. We take our readers from the beginning to the end. We plot the connections that draw their attention to our main characters faults that will eventually lead them to trouble. We use descriptions of color and setting to evoke emotions and focus what we want our readers to see and feel.
Take a moment to pick up a favorite book and read a paragraph or two. Do you see the intentional direction the author takes you?
As you write your first draft of fiction, you’re already layering in some of these subliminal impressions. It’s such an inherent part of our nature and how humans have evolved, we hardly notice we’re doing it. I think storytellers, writers like you, have a stronger ability to do this than most. By paying attention to these elements of emotion, description and creating the reader’s empathy with the character, you are enriching their experience and taking them exactly where you want them to go.
You see, if you control the story you control the perception.
The aforementioned study shared that 99% of brain processing happens below the conscious level of awareness. This is the reader’s sweet spot.
Details. Every bit of skill you use to engage readers with your novel you’ll also need to use to engage them with the promotional copy that sells it.
Prime the subconscious to help that 1% of their consciousness regard your book favorably and nudge the buying decision in your favor.
These are the guideposts you need to help readers navigate as they decide if they want to buy your book.
Book Cover: Quality matters. Books are judged by their cover, and this is not the place to skimp if you want to be taken seriously as a professional author. Book covers can range from $50 to several hundred depending on who you work with and their skill level as a graphic designer. If your budget is tight, try Canva.com where you can choose a well designed e-book cover template to customize. The layout should compliment viewing as a thumbnail with the title prominent and easy to read, and your name clear and easy to read. The composition should pull the eye from the title to your name either by the layout of the type or the color choices. There should be sufficient contrast so the type does not disappear into the background image. If you’re planning to do it yourself, there are dozens of great articles online that explain the basics of book cover design.
Short Product Description: Simply sum up your book in 5 sentences. Then tighten it up to one really solid line that has a hook, gives a sense of what the book is about (genre), and what experience the reader can expect. Memorize this line – you now have the perfect elevator pitch.
Long Product Description: Your full product description will begin with the sharply written short form and then add on to expand on what’s exciting about your story. Build a sense of what your main character will face (remember empathy – you want the reader to empathize with the protagonist), and add a few enticing details. Product descriptions are not plot summaries. Their job is to build anticipation. Just as you cut the short version down, do the same here. Extra words get in-between the reader and the message. Ad copy is concise. Watch a TV commercial and see how much the advertiser has to convey in 30-seconds. You bet there was a copywriter hacking words with the delete key to make it fit without sounding rushed.
Visibility: You’re being smart about how you market your book so of course you have it on your blog, maybe even have a separate page dedicated to your books. Your book cover images need to be on every page. Make them part of your template set up in the side bar so it’s visible on every page view. The image should be linked to your Amazon or B&N page for impulse buying, and give helpful suggestions like “Download Sample & Read Now”. Every so often, recheck that your links are valid. Changes you make to your point of purchase page may alter the link leading to the dreaded 404 Missing Page error.
Just like your book cover, the layout of your blog page should pull the reader’s eyes through the information you want them to notice. They may not buy, but at least they are aware of the opportunity. It’s also a great way to tell them you are an author without constantly telling them you’re an author.
See, marketing isn’t evil. It’s just connecting a need or desire (for books) with a solution or product (your book).
MORE TIPS ON ENGAGING BEHAVIOR
Now it’s time to “Doctor, heal thyself”. I recently tweaked my blog theme and layout, but I’m not done. I know my product descriptions could be better, so I’ll be working on those this week.
Thanks for hanging out with me, and if you found this information helpful, please consider sharing via the handy icons below:)