Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Use Storytelling in Your Marketing (Not Just in Your Product)

If you've ever been to a showing at an art gallery, then you probably know it isn't the art that people buy. Or not just the art, at any rate. It's the story behind the painting, the sculpture, the carvings that they take home with them. The tale of how the artist was inspired by an insane fever dream of a demon trying to devour them, or how the sculptor wanted to honor all of the men who set good examples for how he should comport himself. Those are the things that get people's attention, and which set fire to their imaginations. These stories lend importance to the art, and they act as a bridge between someone admiring it from afar, and becoming a part of its story.

And that is marketing at its finest.

A good story can put an extra zero or two on your price tag.
If you've been wondering how to get people to invest in your art, then you should remember that people don't just buy a product; they buy the story of that product.

What Story Are You Telling?

Every piece of art has a story behind it, and that includes your book. What inspired you to write it? What were some of the bizarre insights you gained while writing it? What is something that drove you to put this particular tale out there, and to add your voice to the world? Those are the things that can help you stand out, and which will get people's attention.

And since we're looking for examples, I'll start.
So, if you've seen my novel Crier's Knife, you probably know it's a fantasy novel based more in the pre-Tolkien era of Weird Tales, and similar fiction. When a member of the witch-bred Crier clan goes missing, the family matriarch summons Dirk Crier up the mountain and tasks him with bringing back his wayward cousin. Alive if he can, but with plenty of company on the dead man's cart if that isn't possible. Though a simple man with a simple, brutal skill, Dirk quickly finds himself surrounded by enemies on all sides, with a hinterlands cult led by a bizarre sorceress calling upon the forgotten magics of an ancient people.

And that's solid enough, as books go. But that's not the story of my book, if you see what I mean?

My book's story goes back to my grandfather. He was an avid reader himself, but his genres of choice were Westerns and detective stories. And because I would unfailingly read all the books I brought with on any family outing, he always had one or two laying around. So I developed a healthy appreciation for these stories, recognizing how they set the mold for other pieces that came later, and how many of the archetypes of the fiction still persist throughout other genres one would never associate with cowboys and outlaws.

When I got older, and told my grandfather I was going to be an author, he didn't laugh at the notion. And unlike a lot of other adults he didn't tell me to focus on college, a degree, and a career, because that sort of thing just isn't going to pay my bills. Instead, he took a sip of his coffee, nodded his head, and told me that I should write Westerns. There were a lot of older folks around who loved them, it was okay if the books were short, and the stories were never going to change with the times the way sci-fi or fantasy books tended to.

That always stuck with me, and when it came time to write a fantasy novel of my own I wanted to make it something he would recognize, and that he'd appreciate. So I drew on the setup of classic stories like The Sacketts, and made an unusual mountain clan to act as the backbone of the story. They had their Talents, and their strange ways, but at the end of the day I like to think my grandfather would have recognized Dirk Crier, and seen that in a little way he helped shape this story I'd made.

Even Being Story Adjacent is Sometimes Good Enough

I can hear a few folks out there right now protesting that they don't have a story like that backing their book. They just wrote it because they thought it was a cool story, and they wanted to make some money to pay their bills.

Nothing wrong with that. But if that's the case, then you need to at least put your work in a story adjacent position to get it some notice.

You're boring. Stand next to someone interesting, and catch the run-off.
Being story adjacent is, essentially, telling a related story in a way that draws attention to your work, but isn't directly promoting your work.

For example, I wrote a series of posts on gaming subreddits a while ago asking my fellow players who the worst paladins they'd ever played with were. I told a story about a terrible game of my own, and got the conversation started. While I was there, though, I worked in a mention that I had recently edited and re-homed my article 5 Tips For Playing Better Paladins, and that it got me thinking about some of the horrible examples out there in the gaming community.

Those posts led to a lot of upvotes, a lot of comments, and a lot of attention. And even though the link to my work was just sort of there in the text, unnecessary for those who were telling their own stories and leaving comments, it still received run-off attention because it was in proximity to the story I was telling. Not everyone clicked that link and read through it, but a lot of people did. Some people may have bookmarked the page, keeping it ready for when they need it. Others probably forwarded it to their friends, and shared it on social media. Point is, by telling a story that had only a tertiary connection to my artistic work, I drew attention to that work, and increased my earnings.

That is the power of storytelling.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing! If you'd like to see more of my work, take a look at my Vocal archive, or at My Amazon Author Page where you can find books like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife!

If you'd like to help support my work, then consider Buying Me A Ko-Fi, or heading over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page! Lastly, to keep up with my latest, follow me on FacebookTumblrTwitter, and now on Pinterest as well!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on this topic. This is really helpful and informative, as this gave me more insight to create more ideas and solutions for my plan. I would love to see more updates from you.

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