Monica Leonelle is a best-selling author and entrepreneur empowering writers to take charge of their careers through efficient and inspired marketing. Her recent release, Prosperous Creation, focuses on making art and money while overcoming the mental blocks that hold us back from reaching our goals. Monica‘s expertise comes from authoring and marketing more than 20 books of fiction across multiple pen names. She writes about indie publishing at ProseOnFire.com.

Engineering Artistic Success

This interview yielded so many great insights for authors. We talked about the difference between fiction and nonfiction in the marketplace and dove deep into marketing.

Monica’s first career was as a software engineer. She published her first book on social media marketing back in 2009, before Amazon sold eBooks. She published that first book via print-on-demand and used it to change careers from software engineer to a social media marketer. The book established her as an authority and allowed her to get two marketing management positions. Monica has led digital marketing efforts at Inc. 100 companies like Hansen’s Natural and Braintree, written copy for A-list bloggers, and trained with some of the world’s foremost thought leaders on the topics of virality and word-of-mouth marketing.

Monica has always loved fiction. With the success of her first nonfiction book, she decided to write fiction shortly after Amazon made eBook publishing available.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Nonfiction is easier to market because you have an audience who is searching for a solution to their problem. That makes it really easy to reverse-engineer a product that meets their needs.

Nonfiction allows you to identify a niche of customers that you can really focus on quickly.

Focusing on nonfiction also allows you to create products and courses that you can sell to your audience on the back end, expanding on what you’ve built with your books.

Fiction is an exciting market because it’s a larger marketplace with readers who like to read more books. So it gives you the ability to build an audience based on a genre or a series of books.

Because the markets are so different, it’s good to have both types of books in your inventory.

Marketing Your Art

Good art always has a larger message behind it. Marketing your art is about finding the audience who wants or needs to hear that message.

Most people who create a work of art are trying to express something and connect with the world around them. Marketing is about getting that unique expression in front of the right people.

Three Categories of Buying Triggers

1. The X factors: These are things that position you above your audience as a thought leader in your industry.

Examples include:

  • Being a thought leader
  • Being consistent in anything you do
  • Having a celebrity factor (for example, being featured on respected mainstream news sites). Being featured in big-name magazines or on high-traffic blogs like Forbes, Inc., or Huffington Post can give you authority and position you as someone your audience should listen to.

2. Connection deepeners: These triggers put you on the same level as your audience.

Examples include:

  • Telling good stories (like the rags to riches story)
  • Reciprocity: if you give your audience something of value, they are going to want to reward you by giving you something in return
  • Interacting with customers and building a community
  • Demonstrating authenticity and vulnerability

3. The button pushers: These things help you connect with your audience on a subconscious level.

Examples include:

  • Scarcity
  • Social proof
  • Exclusivity
  • Having a deadline
  • Controversy
  • Common enemy
  • Mystery
  • Secret
  • Surprise

These triggers get people to take action more consistently. The more triggers you can stack in your marketing efforts, the more people you will get to take action.

Three Ways to Make Your Marketing Efforts More Manageable

1. If you don’t have a lot of money, Monica has found that it’s easier to have one promotion that you put a lot of energy into, rather than having smaller promotions throughout the year.

2. Another thing you can do to make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective is to focus on creating evergreen content that you can repurpose over many marketing channels.

3. Finally, if you want to simplify the marketing process, get as specific as possible about your audience and find one or two triggers that really move that audience to action.

Marketing for Fiction Authors

1. Use emotional language to get your audience invested in your story.

2. Give your viewpoint character a familiar arc that people can identify with and connect to (i.e. the rags to riches story)

3. Build a community around your stories. You can use Facebook, your personal blog, forum software, and wherever people gather online to build communities around the stories you’re telling.

Communities are powerful because when your fans connect with each other about something they like, it increases the value of the thing they connect with other people about.

Harry Potter has more value to its fan base because there is a large community of people who like Harry Potter. There are in-jokes that you can share with other Harry Potter fans; you can make friends because you like Harry Potter. The fan community adds a dimension of value to the series it wouldn’t have otherwise.

4. Another good marketing tactic is to create a list bribe that fills in extra details about the story that you’ve written. For instance, Monica has a free short story that answers questions about a mystery in her series. Readers of that series are going to want that freebie.

It adds value to her current customers and creates a reciprocity loop. They want to reward her with loyalty because she has given them something that makes them special and sets them apart from the larger audience.

They’re part of a select group of people who have more pieces to the mystery.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

Prosperous Creation: Make Art and Make Money at the Same Time (Growth Hacking For Storytellers #5) — Monica’s book on how to make money while creating art you’re passionate about.

http://proseonfire.com/ — Monica’s business site

http://proseonfire.com/breakout — Monica’s free audio course on how to be successful in a new author. It goes into much greater detail about the psychological triggers that help people take action to buy your books.

http://proseonfire.com/ghfs — Monica’s nonfiction series designed to help authors become more productive and sell more books

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