If you’ve read the title of this post, you will have realized this topic is not something I can tackle in one simple blog post. Hell, if it were that easy, all MM authors would be wildly successful. Still, on a blog series about writing and publishing MM romances, I have to talk about selling MM romances as well.
It’s not enough to merely talk about writing them or discuss marketing in general terms; we need to talk about how to sell what we’ve written. So, I’m going to attempt to share some of what I’ve learned over the last year of self-publishing gay romance.
A (Not So) Little Caveat
I want to start with a little caveat. Actually, it’s a pretty big one. A lot of people have asked me over the past year how I managed to build up my name and sales rather quickly. I’ve always tried to be honest, because I had two very important things going for me in writing and selling MM romances, maybe even three or four.
The first was that due to my personal situation, I was able to write full time from the start. Granted, I knew I only had a limited time to make this work, but for at least two years, I knew that I would be able to dedicate all my time to making this work. That’s a huge difference with authors who are starting their career while working a part-time or even a full-time job.
The next advantage I had was that I had some savings set apart that I could invest in my publishing journey. It’s easy to talk about how important things like good covers and quality editing are, but if you lack the initial funds to finance this, you’re at a disadvantage. I was lucky enough to be able to invest enough in my career to have a good start.
Then there’s the not insignificant matter of me already having experience in social media and marketing. That, combined with the fact I am by nature extravert and actually like connecting with people, made the marketing aspect of self-publishing not as daunting for me as it may be for others.
And last but not least, I’m white, writing about white characters. At least, so far. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that even in Indy publishing, white privilege is alive and well.
All of these factors have contributed to my success, so any advice I share on selling MM romances, I do so with the knowledge that it may have only worked because I had so much going for me from the start. Believe me, I’m well aware of that fact, as evidenced by my need to point this out. I would hate for people to think that it would be easy to copy my success, and then see them blame themselves when they fail to do so.
In short, there are some factors that you may not be able to control when it comes to your success in selling books. But there are plenty of elements you can influence, and I think it’s time to have a look at those.
The Four Core Principles of Selling MM Romances
The short and sweet strategy to selling MM romances is finding readers who already love or could potentially love MM romances and pitching them your book. In reality, of course, it’s not quite that simple, but the core concept stands. Find readers and pitch your book, that’s your first core principle.
Another major principle you need to be aware of is the Rule of Seven. This rule states that a potential buyer needs to see something seven times on average before buying. Now, this is not just about books, but about buying in general, but the principle holds. People don’t usually buy the first time they see a product if they’ve never seen it before, unless it’s exactly what they were looking for already. And factors like price and competition can make the sale even tougher. That means repeated exposure to your books is crucial.
You’ve heard me talk about the concept of relational marketing a few times, and I will mention it again, because it’s at the very heart of my strategy for selling MM romances. Relational marketing means that in order to sell the book, you sell them yourself first, as an author, a real person, someone they can and want to connect with.
In marketing, this is known as the difference between a cold and a warm pitch. A cold pitch means you’re trying to sell something to someone you don’t know and who doesn’t know you. Nine out of ten times, that’s a hard sell to make. A warm pitch means that the person you’re trying to sell something to knows you, or at least knows something about you. That already makes it easier, because now you can appeal to what you have in common. There’s your third principle: relational marketing.
Last but not least, there’s the matter of making the right sale. One thing you have to remember is that not every sale is a good sale. That may sound incredibly stupid, but hear me out. On Amazon, making sales to the right people is crucial. If I happen to sell an MM romance to a reader who is confused and thinks it’s an MF romance, that reader won’t be happy. They may even leave a nasty review because they feel duped.
And I won’t be happy either, even aside from that review, because Amazon has now false information about who may like my book. If Amazon now starts recommending my book to MF readers, both me and those readers are going to be unhappy with the results. You need to sell your books to the right people, meaning those readers who are highly likely to love your book.
This is enough information for a first post on selling MM romances. I promise we’ll dig much, much deeper next week(s).