Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Want More Eyes on Your Work? Try Sideways Marketing

In order to clearly define who you are, and to make yourself easy to find for readers who are looking to buy what you're selling, authors tend to do our very best to carve out a niche for ourselves. Usually that niche is built around the genre we write in (or at least the genre we're best known for), and all the keywords we try to associate our names with. And sometimes you can get so invested in that label, and the niche that you're aiming for, that you forget your work might appeal to more than just that specific, target audience.

The question, of course, is how do you broaden your impact zone to include more readers?

Well, I've changed the sign. Was sort of hoping the rest would just come.
If you've been wracking your brain over this particular question, then might I suggest something I call sideways marketing?

What Is Sideways Marketing? How Does It Work?

To understand sideways marketing, you need to understand sideways thinking. Also called lateral thinking, it's a type of problem-solving where you tend to examine preconceptions, sift through wishful thinking for potential solutions, and let your creative processes take over. It is most defined, though, by asking one, important question... why?

How does that help you sell books, exactly?
Since lateral thinking is sort of hard to wrap your head around, I'll provide a concrete example that I just had some small success with.

About a month ago, I wrote an article titled What Is The Monster in "The Ritual"? For those not familiar with the film, "The Ritual" is a horror movie with an extremely unique monster in it. A group of friends go hiking in Sweden, they wander off the path, and find themselves in the territory of a primordial creature... a god that was all but forgotten from the old days. One of its worshipers tells us that it is a jotun, a bastard child of Loki, but we never hear its name spoken. So I laid out my theory as to which of the god of mischief's children the monster was, and how its identity might be reflected in the film's creature design.

Now, when I completed this article, I did my best to boost its signal through channels that focused on horror... because, after all, it was about a horror movie. And while I got some positive results from Facebook, Reddit, and several other places where I lurk, the overall numbers were not that great. And, since the earnings for that article depended directly on the number of readers I attracted, I had to figure out some way to get more people to read it... but how?

That was when I asked myself why? Specifically, I asked why I was restricting myself to horror-specific avenues. Because while there were definitely folks interested in my viewpoint who were horror film fans, the discussion was about a modern piece of art depicting a Norse god and Norse mythology. Once I realized that I'd been the one choking my potential audience, I expanded my marketing efforts to include pages dedicated to mythology, to history, and to the lore and religion of the Norsemen.

What I found was that horror fans were passingly interested in what I had to say. But that mythology fans were quite interested in my interpretation of the monster, and the choices the creature design team had made to realize the bastard child of a shapeshifter onscreen. And that interest led to comments, discussions, and a much more sustained effort by readers to pick up my work, and see what I'd had to say.

I more than doubled the exposure, clicks, and reads in less than a day, just by including a niche I hadn't actually considered when I'd first written the piece.

It Takes Some Getting Used To

Lateral thinking is not something you just start doing one day. It takes practice, time, and effort. However, in terms of your marketing, every successful application of a sideways strategy helps create a kind of mental muscle memory. And, even better, it often helps you see future places you could expand your work into.

Sometimes it's obvious what you can do to get your work in front of more people. However, if you take a moment, and examine your strategy, you might find there are some really simple adjustments you're not making that might open the floodgates.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing topic! If you've had any great successes by applying lateral thinking to your marketing efforts, feel free to boast about it in the comments below. For more of my work (from discussions of the effects cannibalism has on the human body, to how you can make parchment paper using tea) check out my Vocal archive. To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to help support me in my work, you can drop a tip in my jar by Buying Me A Ko-Fi, or you can become a regular patron by going to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page and signing up. Free stuff, and my eternal thanks, await you!

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