I met Z R Southcombe recently at an indie author meet up in Auckland. She’s published one book which fits somewhere between a picture book and a coffee table book, so she found it helpful meeting with authors who have been in the game a bit (or a lot) longer than herself!
Amongst the general chit-chat about writing publishing and marketing the ‘rule of seven’ concept cropped up, and I asked her to write a post about this for my blog . Over to you, Zee.
The rule of seven states that a consumer (or in our case, a reader) needs to have contact with a brand (in our case, our book) seven times in an 18-month period to make ’significant penetration’ – a theory instigated by Dr Jeffrey Lant.
What do we mean by ‘significant penetration’? In marketing terms, penetration refers to the number of people who buy your goods in relation to the number of people in that market. In order to penetrate the market, and to build that significant number of readers, we need to build our readership one by one.
In marketing, we talk about ‘know, like, trust’. In order for a sale to happen, readers first have to know we exist they need to like us, and then we need to gain their trust. This is how ‘the rule of seven’ works.
Before I get into ways to make contact with readers, I want to break the rule down a little bit. By ‘contact’ we mean a place where the reader is aware you exist. For example, if you’re on Twitter and you tweet regularly, then you can count your activity on Twitter as one point of contact. If you have a book in a brick & mortar store, this could count as another point of contact. But the same person who sees your product in the bookstore, may never see you on Twitter so you’ve only made one point of contact in each case.
The way I see it, you want to gain exposure – or ‘make contact’ – with your readers and potential readers in as many ways as possible and I think of this as an opportunity to be creative. Making contact with readers – or potential readers – from 7+ different angles can sound like hard work, but seeing it as a creative challenge makes it more doable, and more fun. Below, I’ve outlined some possible ways of making contact.
For example, I have a book launch coming up in late March, and this is one point of contact I am making with my readers. I also have a couple of school visits lined up, and will be attending the NZ Indie Book Festival in October this year. One great thing about events is that it doesn’t feel like blatant self-promo – you’re inviting someone to an event, not ramming your book down their throat.
Yeah, you can’t avoid it. Well, you can, but I find it one of the easier ways to connect with readers (and with other writers). Once you grow your readership, it’s a great way for fans to have access to you. The key is to finding the platforms you enjoy, and tweaking your way around until you find a way of using it that suits you.
I think it’s important to at least have a website, as it gives you a bit of cyber-cred. It’s also a good place to keep all your info and links. Blogging is useful because it keeps your site current, which search engines such as Google like. It also means that people can get to know you on a more intimate level and interact with you through the comments – if that’s what you want. Guest blogging is a wonderful opportunity, and one I have used over the years to gain exposure and network with the blogging community.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been told by several authors who have had print media articles or interviews that ‘articles don’t sell books’. Well, that’s not really the point! At least not immediately. The point is that you and your books reach a new audience, and remind your existing audience about your books. It’s another point of contact, and a legit one at that. Over time, it will help sell books.
By ‘advertising’ I mean things like posters in shop windows, banner ads on other people’s websites, car magnets, and other traditional signage. This is a tried and true way of making your book known. From people I’ve talked to, it tends to work best if your products are available widely.
A final note – I’m in my first year of publishing, and my main aim this year is publicity – I’m trying to make real contact with my readers in as many different ways as possible over the course of the year. I have done or am planning to cover all the areas I discussed above, and I’m really interested to see what comes out of it by this time next year. Watch this space!
If you found this post helpful and want to read more of my ideas and experiences with writing and publishing, visit my blog at zeesouthcombe.com.
And of course, if you’ve got some ideas or experiences to add to this post, leave a comment below
Z.R. Southcombe is a children’s fantasy writer and artist / illustrator. She is the author of recently released picture book ‘What Stars Are Made Of’ and upcoming chapter book ‘The Caretaker of Imagination’. No matter what project she is currently working on, Z. R. is usually accompanied by a cup of tea.