This is the second post in what I think will be quite a long series on selling and marketing MM romances, as I try to share what I’ve learned so far. In the previous post, I shared four core principles I use when marketing MM romances, and I think it’s good to reiterate them quickly:
1. Find possible readers and pitch your book
2. The rule of seven: a potential buyer needs to see something seven times on average before buying
3. Relational marketing
4. Make the right sale: not all sales are equal
In this post, we’re gonna talk about cold sales, meaning selling books to people who have never heard of you before.
What Are Cold Sales?
Cold sales still happen a lot. In fact, research shows that a significant number of readers find new books and authors through cold pitches. An excellent example of a cold sale might be on Amazon, where someone sees your book being recommended, advertised, or in the also boughts of another book they enjoyed. Another example is your book being recommended through social media by yourself or by readers. It’s possible the readers who buy it never heard of you or your book before and still buy it, simply because the cover and blurb appeal to them.
Other examples are ads, for instance through FB, Amazon, or BookBub.
How Can You Influence the Success of Cold Sales?
A cold sale might feel like a sale you have little influence over, but that would be far from the truth. You may not always be able to control who your book is being pitched to, for instance on Amazon’s also-boughts, but you can influence a buying decision with your cover and blurb, and even with editorial reviews and reviews from readers.
You cover and blurb especially are crucial tools in marketing MM romances, both in cold and warm sales, but so are reader reviews and editorial reviews. Everything needs to convey enough information to let the reader know if they will love your book or not. Information is a tricky term here, because it suggests the purpose of a blurb is to inform, which couldn’t be further from the truth. A blurb needs to sell, but in order to sell, it does need to convey what type of book it is, what genre, what trope. I can’t mention enough how important tropes are in selling your book.
Because of the weekly deals I curate every week, I read many, many blurbs every week from various authors. You’d be surprised how often even I, with all my experience and knowledge about MM romance, aren’t able to detect what trope is used in a romance. And if I can’t detect it, readers won’t either. And without a trope, the chances of your book doing well are less.
That’s because tropes sell. That may sound simplistic, but it’s the truth. We want to know what type of book this romance is, what kind of story it is. Because we all have our favorites. If you followed my weekly deals for a little while, you’ll know I’m a sucker for certain tropes: May December, for example, or the fake boyfriend one. I love being stuck in snow, sharing a bed, and hurt comfort is one I use a lot myself. If I can’t guess from the blurb what trope is being used, I’m not sure if I will like the book, because just as there are tropes I absolutely love, there are also storylines I’m not fond of. If I need to read through readers reviews to discover what your book is about, your blurb sucks, let me put it as simple as that.
I’m sure we’ll cover the importance of blurbs and how to write good blurbs in more detail in another post, but for now let me just say that there is a lot of information to be found online if you use Google. The short and sweet advice I can give you is that blurbs need to be short, to the point, need to sell the book without giving too much away, and need to be very light on detail. And for heaven’s sake, mention that trope.
Your cover is just as important for a cold sale. Imagine your book shows up in the also boughts of a really popular author’s book. It’s a golden opportunity, but only if your cover persuades the customers to click on the book and then to buy it. If your cover is below standards for the genre, or if it doesn’t convey a genre, you lose out on a lot of sales. The combination of cover and blurb needs to be absolutely spot on for the type and genre of book you’re trying to sell.
The Cold Sale and Our Core Principles
Now that we’ve explored about about how we can influence cold sales in marketing MM romances, I want to return to the core principles and how they apply here.
Find possible readers
If you’re doing the cold pitch, choose your audience wisely. You have to target readers who would logically be interested. Take targeting for Facebook ads for example, another example of what could very well be a cold sale. If you cast a wide net and target readers that may not even like gay romance, you could be in for an icy reception. Just because someone likes Will and Grace doesn’t mean they’ll like gay romance, for example. It’s not wrong to try and broaden your audience, but lower your expectations and maybe your budget.
The best targeting is by choosing readers that you know would be interested, even if they don’t know you yet. Take Amazon ads, another example of a possible cold sale. If you write dark MM, there’s little use in targeting Lucy Lennox-fans. I mean, maybe ten percent of them will like both her happy-go-lucky books and dark romance, but you’d be better off targeting fans of Jex Lane, do example.
The Rule of Seven
This is a crucial principle to remember when cold-targeting. You may not convince everyone who sees your FB or Amazon ad the first time, or who comes across you in a takeover for the first time, and that’s fine. Repetition is key here, and if you can slightly change up your message so it’s a little different every time, even better. Some readers will fall for the mention of “daddy kink” in your book, while other may be positively triggered by “May-December trope” (see, tropes again…told you!)
Make the Right Sale
This is maybe the most important one to keep in mind. Not all sales are equal. If you have a successful Amazon ad by targeting Lucy Lennox-fans but your books are nothing like hers, readers may buy your book…but will they like it? If not, you now have a big problem. You not only fucked up the Amazon algorithm for your book (Amazon will now start showing it to the wrong people, who won’t buy it or if they do, won’t like it), and you’re more likely to get a load of critical reviews. Remember: your goal is not to sell your book, but to sell your book to the right readers, meaning those who are most likely to love it.
So when you work on your blurb and your cover and marketing your book, remember that it needs to be true to what the book is like. Sell it to the right readers. If you can’t find readers who will love your book, then I hate to say it, but you have a much bigger problem than marketing. That means your book isn’t firmly planted in a genre or trope, and it’s gonna be really hard to sell it at all.
We’ll talk more about the role of ads in marketing MM romances in another post in this series. I’m trying to break things down as much as possible, because there’s a lot to share. My goal is that you understand the bigger picture and the principles first before we get into how-tos and details. But if you have any questions, hit me up!
PS: I usually dictate these posts, so if you spot a super weird typo, that’s my dictation software, haha. Have a good laugh on me, LOL.