What Does Math Have to Do With Writing Fiction?
The other day I was on a group page on Facebook and one of the other members of the site put up this math problem: 3-3×6+2=??
Many of the writers on the site got the answer wrong because they did not follow the order of operations. Some even tried to argue like there were a variety of possible answers. The reason that many writers don’t get it is because math is often not the strong suit of a writer.
If I would have presented the problem as a story, more of the writers would have been correct. What if instead of using that mathematic sentence, I would have presented the same information this way. I had three dollars in the bank, I then bought three packages of pencils for six dollars each and then put two more dollars into the bank? How much money would I have in the bank?
The answer to both the mathematical sentence and word problem is the same -13.
So what does math have to do with fiction and nonfiction writing? It has everything to do with understanding methods involved in successful marketing.
How to Market Nonfiction
The way to market nonfiction is done the same way that we market anything. We find our target audience. We find a need and we show the buyer that we offer the best product at the best price. We then fill that need.
If we’re selling books about gardening, we go where the gardeners are. If we are selling books about writing, we go to where other writers hang out online. If we’re selling books about any kind of widget, we go online to the place where buyers of that widget are.
It’s a numbers game. We go where a large number of our audience hangs out and we educate them about what we have and we pitch our product. People buy or don’t buy based on the product on whether or not you are seen as an expert on that subject.
Finding ways to sell my nonfiction is easy. I write online articles. I have gone straight to stores that sold other things related to the books I wrote and most immediately bought at the store. Not so much that the store was out a lot, but enough to make it worth my time. I made potentially enough to make a living if I wanted to hustle that way.
Just as you don’t ask a group of writers to solve math problems, fiction cannot be marketed effectively using this method either. You don’t just take your books to other writers because those other writers are trying to sell their books too. You might exchange books for reviews, but these people are only part of your target market. You don’t want to take your book just to avid readers either. These people are only part of your market. If you want your book to go viral, you have to take your book to everyone who wants to buy your book.
The idea is to create buzz about your fiction book.
So far what works best for me in selling my fiction is to show up at a marketing event and talking with people and selling them—not e-books but paperback copies. But this means taking a whole day on the road and hauling heavy boxes of books around the country. Surely, there is a better way! Also it means that if I am selling my books in states other than my own, I have to get
So that brought me back to selling books at local festivals. Not only will I be selling my books at local festivals, here in Missouri, but I were be going for a class reunion in June and selling my books there.
Finding other ways to sell my fiction has been more of a challenge. Anything that I have done regarding PR has done little to nothing to sell my books. I have been to two book signings at two bookstores and at neither did I sell a single copy even though both were widely publicized.
So what do I do? According to Kristen Lamb, author of The Rise of the Machine, she said that what I need to do engage other writers and avid readers, but that I need to spend more time on social media with the goal of getting to know more people and letting them know about me and my characters.
Collecting names for my newsletter alone has helped me gain some sales. I connected with friends who said they had meant to buy my books but had not yet done it and then did after conversing with me on FB messenger. I talked at length with a number of people who agreed to join my newsletter to learn more about my books. I am building a list of readers who want to read not just any book, but a book that one of their friends wrote.
In the process of building my list someone interviewed me, two agreed to do reviews and another asked me to do an article for their website about an “authorly subject”. I wouldn’t have found these opportunities if I had not asked for their email addresses in the first place. More importantly, I reconnected with people that I had not spoken with for quite a while. That’s the best part of marketing fiction, getting to converse with people from not only all over the country, but the world as well. Marketing Fiction is no numbers game. It is all about building relationships.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga