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Saturday, July 19, 2014

A2R Marketing: The Push and Pull of Getting the Word Out

Doctor Dolittle's mythical beast of the pushmi-pullyu (push-me-pull-you) learned how not to work against itself. Learning the push and pull of effective author-to-reader (A2R) marketing has the same core lessons.

To get your book in front of readers, either you have lots of PR dollars to spend or are bootstrapping your way into bookstores and events. Being efficient with time and money counts for a lot. The concepts of push and pull aren't new. Pulling is frequently conceived as a figure hauling a massive or insurmountable task, via a little rope slung over her shoulder, up a very steep incline. Pushing is seen as getting behind something and using the person's strengths to move it forward, inch by inch. The two forces are usually understood as working separately and independently from one another. If used together, the forces cancel each other out and nothing happens, leaving the decision to be choosing one technique or another. This is exactly what won't work with book marketing.

(For you smart-alec types out there, I'm referring to the effort of a single source or person, not a team of pullers and pushers of the sort that helped build the pyramids. Read on.)

Lee Oden, CEO of @Toprank Online Marketing, talks about push and pull in terms of pushing your news out to end consumers, then being pulled along as others pick up your news and give it to their end consumers. The two forces compliment one another and is much more in line with how I suggest you focus your efforts. His blog, linked to above, is well worth a read.

For an author, I speak of push and pull in terms of energy and effort expended in order to reap the maximum amount of reward from that effort. It's all about building momentum and excitement. The more of those you have (think "buzz"), the more likely readers will talk about your book to new readers. Imagine the hard slog uphill on a bike followed by the wind whipping your hair and drying your sweat on the other side. You pushed against gravity only to use it to pull and speed your way along. 

The Key is this: To have an easier time making up the next hill, use momentum to gain speed. Don't just sit there like a lump. Push those pedals like the dickens while you have the pull working with you.

Here are examples for book marketing:

  • sending out a press release on the publication of your book,
  • cold calling bookstores and libraries and telling them about your book and trying to get in front of their patrons,
  • contacting local newspapers and magazines with a 'hook' into your book and/or personal story to tickle them into writing an article on you.
  • being invited to be a speaker or hold a signing (or do a blog tour) because someone heard about you or saw you at one of the events you pushed for,
  • having an excited reader tell their friends they met you and that they should read your book,
  • having a great review pop up.
The Push-and-Pull:
  • sending out a press release (or lighting up social media) that you were invited to appear and the date,
  • offering to attend a book club in the home of the excited reader (or do a Skype chat), 
  • putting the review out where people can see it via social media, marketing collateral or the good old grape vine.

In essence, push and pull simply means not letting each success of getting the word out about your book lie fallow. Use it as seed for the next step and the next push. You work against yourself by letting all of the reward gleaned from a good push go unused. Without effectively using your pull, you are constantly falling back to the starting line.

Face it, the reason we all dream of being "Best Selling Authors" is so we can enjoy the pull of momentum our past works generated to liberate us up from pushing. With all that free time, we want to work on our next book. After all, our first love is writing.

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.