Differentiation is one of the most important elements in a marketing plan. It is a versatile tool and has many uses. It is also a key element in converting potential readers to book buyers and it’s a start on building your brand.
Differentiation is a three-part statement about your book. These statements tell the world why your book matters and why readers should buy it. These issues are a vital aspect of all book marketing and is especially important in self-marketing. When developing the differentiation statements, make sure you slant them towards the customers for your book. Your statements will be less potent if they are aimed at the general population.
Essentially, what differentiation development entails is creating three sentences or short paragraphs that can be used to help sell your book. Here are descriptions of each of the three elements.
This is the first statement and it is the hook to grab the readers’ attention. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to keep reading the other two statements. It should be simple, one or two sentences at most, and it must make a clear statement about your book.
What’s in it for the buyer?
Is a statement that explains what the reader (i.e. a book buyer) will get in exchange for money. This must be explicit. This statement is not the place to get cute. Don’t come across like the legendary used-car salesman. Tell the readers what benefit they’ll get from buying the book. Think of this statement in this way; if your book is surrounded by hundreds of similar-sized books on a shelf in a bookstore, what would persuade the buyer to choose your book instead of one of the others?
What’s different about this book?
With all the books published every month, what makes your book stand out from the others?
These dry descriptions are difficult to grasp so I’ll use examples from my published books: one non-fiction and one fiction.
Another book in my Self-publishing Guides series is Manage Your Self-publishing Project. Here is the differentiation statements for that book.
Pitch Line: This book un-complicates the self-publishing and marketing processes by laying it out in a visual format.
What’s different about this book? Self-publishing is a complicated process and this book breaks up the work involved into a series of flow charts and mind-maps that present a visual approach to the self-publishing and marketing projects.
What’s in it for the buyer? The book’s graphics allow the self-publishing author to control and manage the project and to ‘see’ his progress and to identify what still has to be worked on.
Here is the fiction example. For my novel, Falstaff’s Big Gamble, I developed these differentiation statements.
What’s in it for the buyers? It takes two of the Bard’s most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them in Gundarland. There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf
What’s different about your book? If that isn’t bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.
When you use your differentiation statements, don’t use the term “pitch line” or the questions. Just have the statement flow into a short paragraph like this: This novel is Shakespeare’s Worst Nightmare. It takes two of the Bard’s most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them in Gundarland. There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf. If that isn’t bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.
So what are the differentiation statements good for? How are they used? You stick them anywhere they’ll fit. If you can’t fit the entire statement someplace (such as on Twitter), use the pitch line by itself.
Here are some common uses.
On a website: On your book-buying web page, make the pitch line the opening statement followed by the rest of your differentiation message. Why? On the internet, attention spans are too minuscule to measure. When visitors land on your web page, you have a second or two to persuade them to read beyond the first line of text they see. That is the job of your pitch line: to get the visitors to read further. The next statement (what’s in it for the buyer) has to tell them there is something of value here, something they can use or enjoy. Finally, you tell them what is different about your book, what is in it that they can’t get elsewhere. If this works, the visitors will read even further where they can learn how to get a copy and how much it’ll cost. Directly after the differentiation statements, add links to book seller sites so the reader can immediately go to one of them to buy the book. If you get a sale, you have accomplished the difficult process of converting a visitor to a customer. Give your Marketing Manager and Sales Manager a pat on the back.
Trailers: Make sure your differentiation statements are clearly visible and emphasized in the trailer. Get the message in the beginning and the end of the trailer. Innumerable people from all over the world may view the trailer and you want them to understand your message.
Internet Announcements: Log onto social media sites and post an announcement that your book will be available. Include the differentiation message in the announcement. Use it on book sites like Goodreads, Librarything and other web sites. After the message, add information about your book. You can upload the cover and add descriptive text about it.
Press Releases: Display your differentiation messages prominently. Make them the opening statement in the body of the release. Rephrase the message and place it a second time further down in the body.
Sig Files: Use the signature capability in your email program to build a unique signature using the pitch line by itself. Link that pitch line to your book-selling website. Now, every time you send an email, you’ll also be pitching your book.
Back Cover Text: If you have print edition planned, put your differentiation statements on the back page to tempt folks who happen to pick up your book in a bookstore or at a book event.
EBook Front Page: With an eBook, place the differentiation statement before the title page. That way, anyone who samples the eBook will see it as the first thing they read about you book.
Once the differentiation statements are completed, you’ve taken a big step toward getting people to buy your book. These statements will also start to build your brand.
Keep going. You can do this!