My dad used to say you could tell a lot about a man by playing a game of Monopoly with him, hanging Christmas lights together and watching a man fish.
Hanging Christmas lights as a couple is a subject for a whole other blog, and if you’ve ever played a game of Monopoly with your significant other and are still together, then you’ve figured that one out.
But I was never quite sure what my dad meant about watching a man fish. After all, as a young girl, I found fishing to be utterly boring. I was certain he was trying to tell me that all fishermen were boring!
Flash forward several years (ok, maybe a few decades) and my husband and I do a lot of fishing; in fact, he’s the one that helped instill in me a deep love of the sport. And it’s during one of our great fishing adventures this summer that I pondered my dad’s advice. Watching a man (or woman!) fish tells you a lot about how they approach their work, relationships and life.
Know Your Fish
I have only one rule when I go fishing: If I’m not casting, I’m not fishing. Of course, it doesn’t help that I have the patience of a gnat. And let’s face it, I’m as bad as Dory in Finding Nemo when it comes to pretty distractions. The more colorful the lure, the more likely I am to want to fish with it. But I’ve also learned you can’t fish for trout using a grub, and flies are best left to fly fishermen.
The same is true when marketing your book. You need to have a deep understanding of who your target audience is before you go to market. If you’re a romance writer, like me, then you know you can’t market your epic sci-fi romance book in the latest issue of Field and Stream. You’ve got to know where your readers are, and even more importantly, you need to know what they are looking for when purchasing their next curl-up-on-the-sofa, feel-good romantic read. In other words, grub or fly?
Do Your Homework
My husband carefully reads the rules and regulations before we begin fishing in any body of water. He asks questions of the locals, researches what bait is catching fish and what types of hooks are permitted. The man is meticulous, careful and always has the right bait and equipment. As he often quotes, “To cut down a tree in five minutes, spend the first three minutes sharpening the axe.”
I tend to go with what I’ve got. After all, every minute spent researching is another minute not on the water fishing. And if I’m not casting, I’m not fishing!
But there’s a lot to be said for my husband’s tenacity and careful research as it relates to marketing a novel; it’s important to scan the environment, research the market, set clear goals and know how your novel solves a reader’s pain point or delivers a story they can’t put down. Knowing who your competitors are, what restrictions there might be in your market, and a methodical, strategic approach to achieving your goals can prevent months of wasted effort on useless marketing tactics that don’t work.
Any good fisherman will tell you, there are no shortcuts when it comes to fishing. The same is true in marketing. There simply are no shortcuts. Building a tribe of readers takes time, fortitude and constant work. Despite claims to the contrary, you cannot ‘farm’ your way to followers, or pay thousands for an expensive system that is ‘guaranteed’ to bring you sales. It takes work, patience, tenacity and grit. Lots and lots of grit.
Know When to Find a New Fishing Hole
Even in marketing there are times to call it quits. Continuing to try and force results will only lead to wasted time and wasted marketing dollars. Set clear goals and if you’re not achieving them, don’t be afraid to move on and try something else.
As a fisherman, this is something my husband has dialed in and perfected. He will patiently cast for several minutes in a particular fishing hole, but if he doesn’t get any bites, he will walk a few more feet downstream until he finds a new spot. Not me, I plop myself in my lawn chair, crack open a beer and generally go home empty handed.
Learn from the Pros
Whether you’re a novice or a pro fisherman, a first-time author or a seasoned vet, one thing’s for sure, there’s always something to be learned by paying attention to others in the field. Whether it’s a new way to tie a fishing knot, or a method of developing more believable villains, there’s always something to be learned.
What advice did your parents give you that has served you well in business or as writer? Drop me a line below in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Maybe I’ll even run into you at my favorite fishing hole!
August 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm
A lot of truth here! Much I haven’t been following 🙁
I love research in so many things, yet, I have as yet to be able to really research the romance reader. I know women dominate this market. They tend to be highly educated. They tend to read a lot, usually several books a month.
Where to look for more info baffles me. So much of it is proprietary!
August 18, 2017 at 8:40 pm
Thanks for weighing in! As a marketer, the challenge of trying to deeply understand one’s target audience can be quite perplexing and time consuming at best! While a marketer can certainly find (and purchase!) lists with the attributes you mentioned, the real question — or value — comes in understanding the target’s behavior: where they are hanging out, how they like to consume information, how often they purchase, etc.? While this information is certainly available in our data-rich environment, this generally comes at an expense, something most romance novelists are in short supply of!
Facebook does a pretty decent job of providing fairly granular segmentation, but again, there’s generally a cost involved (to execute) and it still doesn’t identify behavior or purchasing patterns.