The Rule of Seven in Selling MM Romances

This is the third post in a series I’m doing on marketing and selling MM romances, so make sure to read the other posts as well. In the first post, we talked about four core principles for selling MM romances, and in the second post, we discussed the concept of cold sales. Today, we’ll talk a bit more about the Rule of Seven in selling MM romances.

How the Rule of Seven Works

Now, the Rule of Seven says that on average, people need to “see” a product seven times before they buy it. This is a highly generalized marketing principle, so not book-specific, let alone tailored toward gay romances, but let’s go with it for a second.

I think we can all “feel” the truth behind the idea that we don’t usually buy a new to us author the first time we see their book. If we do, it’s usually because of a combination of factors, like a recommendation from someone we trust, a blurb that appeals to us, others mentioning it, lots of positive reviews, etc. It’s more common that we see a book mentioned a few times before deciding to take a chance on it.

As an author and someone who wants to sell gay romances, this means we need repeated exposure. We need to build that chain of seven, so to speak, though in reality, it will only be three exposures to our book for some readers and twenty for others. The bottomline is that we need to confront readers with our book or our author name/brand many times.

Where Are Our Readers?

How do we do that? Well, we find as many ways as we can to reach readers and communicate about our book. This is called building an author platform. The starting point is to ask yourself this: “Where are my readers already and how can I communicate with them abut my books?”

The question of where readers are should be easy to answer, but this is where a lot of authors mess up for various reasons. But let’s list some places our readers are (this list is not exhaustive, FYI):

Facebook (page/profile/groups)
Tumblr (maybe not anymore, but let’s go with it for now)
Email (newsletters)

Remember another core principle? Find readers and pitch your book. If these are the paces readers are hanging out, these are the places you should be pitching your book. That doesn’t mean you should be everywhere. The smart thing is to focus on a few where you know you’ll be effective.

But…and here’s a big but…you do have to actually go there and pitch your book. It’s not enough to be in the same place as readers. You have to sell that book.

This is where many authors struggle, because they love writing but hate marketing. Or they dislike social media. And I get it, even though I don’t have that problem. I understand that marketing and connecting with people is scary and that it can cause a lot of anxiety. But if you want to sell books, that’s what you’ll have to do.

Relational Marketing

The good news is that selling books isn’t so much about selling as it is about building relationships and connecting with potential readers. This may seem to contradict what I said before, about having to pitch and not merely hang out, but let me explain.

If you go to these places and only sell your book, you won’t get much response. I see this in Twitter especially, authors who tweet little else but variations of “buy my book”. That won’t work.

But if you’re only being social and hanging out and never mention your book, that won’t work either. Somewhere, there’s a balance to be struck. I call that relational marketing: build the relationship, but be clear that you’re selling books as well.

The Rule of One in Ten

For me, that balance can best be described as the Rule of One in Ten: for every direct promotional post I do on social media, I do at least nine that aren’t. It’s not exact science, but if you follow the spirit of it, you’ll strike a good balance, usually.

On Twitter, I usually schedule about ten posts a day, but only one of these is a promo post. In my reader group on FB, I try to limit it to one direct promo post a day as well, though around release day, this is probably more. Instagram is a bit of an outlier, because I only post once a day, sometimes two, but I do try to post other things as well, and the same is true for my FB page.

Now, for some platforms, it’s harder to follow that rule, like in newsletters, on Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub. That’s fine. If that platform is specifically built to promote and readers kind of know that when they sign up, it’s different. Even then, I do try to mix it up as much as I can by promoting others as well for instance.

Building an Author Brand

If only one in ten posts can be direct promo, what about the other nine? The idea of relational marketing is that readers want to get to know you, since people prefer to buy from people they know and like. So the other nine things you post (and we’re not talking about nine things literally, but as a concept) should help readers to get to know you.

That means they can be about anything connected to you, really, ranging from personal posts to movies you love, places you visited, things you find funny, but…I’d really advise you to spend some time brainstorming on an author brand and make sure whatever you post is true to that brand.

An author brand is kind of like the image you want to project, the words you want people (readers) to associate with you, the feelings and emotions you want to evoke in them when they “meet” you online.

To give you an example, promoting and supporting other authors is a huge part of my brand. It’s what I want to be known for, what I strive for. So nothing I post will violate that core branding aspect. And I have a few more. It not only helps me find content to post, but also helps me decide what not to post.

Okay, another long-ass post, and we’re just getting started, but again. I hope this is useful. Let me know and hit me up with any questions!

(PS: I know this post was supposed to be published on a Wednesday, meaning yesterday, but I swear it was Tuesday yesterday, haha. I didn;t want to skip a week so I published it today. I’m totally messed up on days this week…)

4 thoughts on “The Rule of Seven in Selling MM Romances”

  1. I love following your direction I save these all to re-read when I have more than the time before bed. Thank you for doing this I am going to be using these Im on social media and post once or twice on most flatforms, I dont have a reader group and only because I wasn’t certain to or not as so many Authors do. Do you think I should and what about a website, my shifter series releases Jan.
    I love writing but think thats the easy part, especially when I see authors marketing I wonder will I ever learn all this.

    1. I’m so happy these posts are useful to you. I know marketing can be really overwhelming. My advice is to really tackle one thing at a time. Don’t try everything at once, but focus on learning one new marketing aspect and practice till that’s become a habit. Then add the next element. As for a reader group, it’s worked really well for me, but…it’s a lot of work. I post several times per day and I’ve spent a lot of time building my group. If you can’t put that time in, I’d focus on something else that will maybe get you better results in the short run.

      1. Thank you for this advice, I know some great authors have offered me takeovers and days in their groups to promote, they are really good.
        For this year Im still working my main job, then I plan to take a year out.
        I think Im lucky to be able to plan to do that, so many can’t.
        Good Luck with upcoming books I know they will do so well.

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