This episode originally aired in December 2013.
One of the most well-known imitated fictional characters in the world has a gift, especially for authors this year.
It turns out jolly old Saint Nicholas does a really good job at marketing, and he’s given us some principles from his centuries on the job.
As a marketer, what does Santa do that you can you copy and apply to your marketing?
Here are seven pro-tips, to authors, from Santa.
1. Santa persists.
Giving presents to the whole world is a tough job. It’s a lot of work, and the weather isn’t always agreeable.
As an author, one of the hardest things you’ll have to do is get up and write when you don’t feel like it. It’s very easy to fall prey to making excuses. And that’s one thing Santa doesn’t do. If he’s got a snowy day, he and Rudolph still get those presents delivered.
Seinfeld had a great story about persistence in writing. He writes a lot of his comic material that he uses on stage. One cold and rainy day when he didn’t feel like writing, he looked out the window and saw construction workers walking to their job site. It occurred to him that those guys probably didn’t want to do their job either, but they went to work and got the job done anyway. Seinfeld thought, “Why should I be any different?” And then he got to work.
One of the reasons Seinfeld is such an effective comic is because he writes a lot of material. When he’s trying to choose material for his next show, he has the liberty of choosing a few of the very best pieces from all he’s written.
When we started thinking of writing as our job we learn to persist.
2. Santa is easy to contact.
There are only two lines to Santa’s address, and everyone knows them.
Your email and web address should be just as easy to remember and use. Obscure email and web addresses such as slingingoutthewords.com does not tell a reader who you are. Even though it might be a clever address, it’s hard to remember.
In the prime real estate of your website, usually in the upper right-hand corner, provide a clear way for people to contact you. Make a list of all the platforms you use to communicate with your readers. Consider adding linked icons for the following:
Some readers will come to your site looking for the word, “contact.” You’ll want to provide a “contact” page where people can easily send you a message.
And on every page of your website, provide a clear way for visitors to enter their email address to receive your newsletter or your featured reader magnet. Make yourself available to readers in as many places as possible.
Many authors are hesitant to give out their contact information on the internet because they are afraid “the boogeyman” will get their information. But before you withhold contact information from your readers out of fear of the boogeyman, remember this: if somebody wants to find you, it’s not very hard.
If you have a magazine subscription or a credit card, your information is publicly available for about two or three dollars to anyone who will buy it. That’s one of the ways magazines and credit card companies make money. Since the boogeyman already has your address, you might as well let your fans have it as well.
Santa is not afraid of providing his contact information.
People love Santa because they’re able to communicate with him easily. Folks can visit him at the mall. They can send him letters. Physical connection along with back-and-forth communication builds a relationship that lasts for generations.
3. Santa focuses on giving to others.
Santa visits millions of houses around the globe giving gifts to people. Can you imagine how differently Santa would be viewed if he visited all those houses looking for what he could take?
If that were Santa’s method, we’d call him the Grinch.
We love Santa because he’s a giver and not a taker.
This is a key element of your marketing.
- How can you bless people with your marketing?
- How can you bless people on Twitter or Facebook or with your email newsletter?
- How can you give gifts to other people?
It’s a hard, cold reality for authors, but we must learn and remember that people don’t care about us. Your readers and fans care about what you can give them.
We’re all pretty selfish. But as an author with a story and message to share, you must be the first to transcend selfishness.
You’ve been put in this position to bless others. You’re inspiring people. You’re encouraging people. You’re making people laugh, and it’s a great privilege. Continue to do it.
Santa is a good role model for transcending selfishness.
4. Santa assembles a team.
To be an effective writer, realize you can’t do everything yourself.
A classic beginner mistake is to try to be your own printer, publisher, editor, webmaster, marketer, and writer. It doesn’t work.
No single person has all those skills.
Santa realizes this, and he has a family of elves who are making his gifts. He has Mrs. Claus preparing his food. He’s got a team of reindeer who transport him around the world.
Santa’s teammates make him successful.
An author needs a team too. Consider adding a few folks to your team.
- Book Mentor: You need someone who is further along the path who can field questions. A book mentor can kick you in the pants if necessary or give you a hug when you need it. At Novel Marketing, we try to provide answers, motivation and encouragement through articles and podcasts, but you need a real-life mentor as well.
- Critique Group: Fellow readers and writers brave and kind enough to tell you the truth about your plot, characters, pacing and writing will be a great addition to your team.
- Literary Agent: An agent will function as your advocate and representative and sometimes your translator in a foreign land called, publishing.
- Professional Editor. You need a professional editor whether you’re self-published or traditionally published. If you’re traditionally published, the first person you’ll meet is your editor. Publishers know that no one writes a good book alone. People only write bad books that need to be professionally edited.
- Publicist: If you can afford one, or if your publisher is paying for one, a publicist will assist you with media contacts, securing podcast interviews, and finding opportunities for you to write for print and online publications.
- Webmaster: For all things technical and web related, a webmaster will save you time, headaches, and heartaches.
- Communications or Social Media Assistant: This team member can keep abreast of the ongoing changes in email marketing and social media platforms while you write your next book.
- Mastermind: Gather a group of people who can brainstorm with you. A mastermind group can help flesh out your ideas or come up with something you wouldn’t think of on your own. You might toss around ideas about your novel, your marketing, or your branding. A mastermind group can be a powerful part of your team.
5. Santa focuses on one thing.
Many authors don’t like this advice of focusing on one thing. Authors, and especially novelists, are creative people. They come up with zillions of ideas to implement, and such a lack of focus is not the path to success.
John Grisham is a prolific novelist, and he has a huge following of readers who love his legal thrillers. Because he’s so well-loved, his publisher allowed him to publish A Painted House which, as a historical mystery, deviated from his brand. A Painted House did not sell nearly as well as his other novels because it was not what his readers had come to expect from him.
Focus on one thing and deliver it to your readers in an excellent way.
Of course, it’s possible to do more than one thing with your life. For example, Benjamin Franklin was a bestselling author, publisher, diplomat, and politician. He was a scientist and an inventor. But a close look at his life reveals he did one thing at a time.
When he was an author, he devoted himself to writing books. When he was a publisher, he only published. When he retired from his publishing business, he focused on science. Focus led to his success.
Santa is successful because he’s focused. Santa doesn’t deliver valentines in February. On July 4th, Santa is nowhere to be seen. But in December, he is on stage, fully present, and thinking about just one thing.
6. Santa works hard.
Making and delivering gifts for the children of the world is a lot of hard work.
And this is the dirty little secret of writing: it’s hard work. You’ve got to sit down and write or edit every single day. Everyone will promise you shortcuts. They’ll beg you to buy their guide on how to write the world’s best novel in a weekend. They might say self-publishing isn’t as much work, but it just isn’t true.
Writing is hard work. Do the work. Work hard. Be diligent. There is no secret formula or magic bullet to success. The term “overnight success” is a misnomer.
We tend to think that people like the Rolling Stones, Richard Branson, and Kelly Clarkson were just discovered and became instant celebrities.
All of them busted their tails and were rejected over and over.
Authors who are willing to put their heads down to do the work are the ones who succeed. If you’re looking for shortcuts and searching for the least amount of work that will yield good results, you won’t succeed.
That mindset will sabotage all your efforts.
7. Santa enjoys the journey.
Santa is known as a jolly fellow. You always see him with a smile, twinkling eyes, and merry dimples. Santa loves his job even though some of it is drudgery.
It’s’ a delight for him to talk with the first child at the mall. But after hearing the heart’s desires of 1,000 children, Santa is a little exhausted.
The first toy he makes is a fun and creative endeavor. But after he’s assembled a thousand toy cars, it’s a bit monotonous.
The key to becoming a successful author is to enjoy the journey. If you’re always looking for the next thrill, just enduring your current stage, you’re going to be miserable your whole life.
Once you get an agent, you’ll pine for a publisher. Once you’re published, you ache for bestseller status. If you become a bestseller, you’ll long for a movie deal with a good movie company. And if you find yourself at the top, you’re likely to want to do it all again to prove to the world it wasn’t a fluke the first time around.
But if you can enjoy the journey—the writing, editing, pitching to agents and editors, marketing, and selling—then you’ll be happy and more successful. That attitude will provide the strength, energy, focus, and passion needed to do well in every phase.
To become a bestselling author, you must be faithful in the little things. You must learn to write well, edit carefully, pitch ideas in a clever way, and create good proposals. Ultimately, your faithful little investments will yield a great return
Santa realizes the journey is it’s not about him. It’s about the kids. He focuses on the people he serves. He enjoys being Santa because he knows is more blessed to give than receive.
As you look toward the next year, grab a pen or a keyboard, and in the spirit Christmas, do as Santa does.