Start with Why, Not What

A professional artist recently shared the following statement on Facebook:

“People who are good at selling stuff tell me I need a story. That people buy the story, not the art. Well, here’s my story: I’m a guy who likes to paint. The end.”

He’s right. Marketing experts are pushing “the story” when it comes to selling things. While this artist isn’t ready to give his story, he does have one. He even has a separate story for each painting. His story can be as simple as what inspired him to paint a certain picture.

You, too, as an author have a story. It is why you wrote your book. This story should be part of your marketing pitch.

Most people selling a product—including authors selling books—start with the What. They tell people what they are selling. Marketing experts think that instead of starting with the What, you should start with the Why. Why did you create what you are selling?

Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe” shares that Dell and Microsoft market their products starting with What. “We make computers. Our computers have Intel processors. Buy one.” On the other hand, Apple markets its products starting with the Why. “Everything we do challenges the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. Our products are beautifully designed and user-friendly.”

Simon goes on to say that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
This statement is true for authors as well. You will hook more people into buying and reading your book if you start with your story—why you wrote the book.

Telling potential readers that they should read your book on forgiveness because it will help them be able to finally forgive and let go of the bitterness they have been holding is a good message. But, it is not as powerful as telling them that you held onto unforgiveness toward a parent for years until you suffered a heart attack. This was the wake up call you needed to learn to forgive. You are now sharing the six steps to forgiveness that you learned with others.

Notice that the Why does not exclude the What. In other words, in telling the Why, you will incorporate the What. People will know what you are offering, but now they will also understand why, which tugs at their emotions.

I wrote Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace because I wanted other new small publishers and authors to have the information I wished was available to me when I started out on my independent publishing journey. That’s my Why. What’s yours?

Related Posts:
It’s the Story
The Importance of Finding Your Niche
Is Your Message Distilled?

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Photo courtesy of Suhyeon Choi

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