The Art of Seducing a Reader

Part 3 of the marketing for Authors Series with Khalid Muhammad
Check out part 2 and part 1

I was challenged one day by some of my soon to be fraternity brothers to pick up a woman in a bar one night. I was a headstrong, full of confidence nineteen year old that couldn’t lose. I had the charm to be able to smooth my way into any relationship I wanted, but my brothers knew that, so they added one condition.

“Put a bag over your head and find her,” they said to me laughing. Well, that made things a bit harder…

That night, after being liquefied at the fraternity house, we all left for the bar and found our way inside. I was allowed to take one long look around the bar before the bag was placed over my head and pushed into the crowds of drunken students. Over the course of the next few hours, I stumbled into many people, making apologies, trying to explain why I was wearing a bag in a bar, but nothing seemed to guide me towards a woman that I could even talk to much less get a phone number from.

Sadly, this is also how many authors go about marketing their books to potential readers. They are not looking for the audience that would be interested, rather they are looking for anyone who reads a book. And when they find that reader, they spend the rest of their time talking about… well… the book and why they should read it. Most of us walk away from these encounters with the same thing that I got at the bar… nothing to show for it and nothing gained in terms of interest. The mistake that we are all making is forgetting how to seduce someone.

Marketing is truly the art of seduction. We have to take someone who may not be interested in our product, and catch their attention. Then, draw them in with flirtatious glances, only to bring them to the table to offer them the proposition that they have been dreaming about. It’s about touching readers where they need to be touched, how they want to be caressed and coaxing them with that voice that makes them obey every word we say. 

Someone, a few years back, when social media was just getting started, said that social media marketing was all about presence - just be there and people will find you. But that isn’t completely true. You can’t sell steaks to vegans, so just being there isn’t going to work anymore. If we look at social media as a 24-hour pickup bar for authors to find readers, we have to learn how to work the room in the right bars.

Let’s get started.

We don’t go to biker bars and expect to talk about our feelings, well not unless we expect to get beaten up pretty badly. Finding our crowd is the first part of the seduction. As authors, we need to understand that every book has a specific audience. Sure, we would like to believe that our books will be read far and wide, by people from all walks of life, but that must start somewhere and that’s the target audience. If you go and create a profile on every social media platform and book marketing website, you’ll find two things to be true. First, you won’t have time for anything other than posting and waiting for people to reply. Second, you’ll be screaming along with thousands of other authors for the same group of readers… all of them, which will never work.

When we pick the right bar, we already have people that are interested in what we have to offer so making a connection to them is easier. That flirtatious glance, as I like to call it. Once we get the target to respond to our glance, we need to speak the language of the bar to be able to communicate with them.

Language, as anyone who as traveled knows, is the hardest part of getting people to understand and the same is true of social media. Go to China and speak English, no joy. Go to America and speak French, no joy. Try to use Facebook lingo on twitter, no joy. We can’t use tumblr lingo on Facebook, nor can we use Facebook lingo on twitter. Each platform has their own language that we must be well versed in other people will call us noobs or interlopers, which is never good for trying to seduce someone. You can’t just walk up to everyone, open our trench coats and say… wanna buy a book? We’re not drug dealers ;)

The last thing that we need to learn in this art of seduction is the closing touch. When we are in a bar, we know when we have sealed the deal. We get the gentle touch from the person we have been trying to seduce, the caress that tells us “mission accomplished.” How do you know on social media? You don’t. That’s the hard part. People will tell you, promise you, that they will buy your book, but you won’t know until they actually have read it. We can only lead them to the oasis, we can’t force them to drink. They might have been looking for a free copy, playing their own game of seduction with you. So we can never know until they take the drink. Think about the morning after the seduction at the bar - one person wants to get out as quickly as possible, the other wants to share their intimate secrets. Either way, no one is getting called for a date. Don’t be that guy!

So how do we know if the seduction worked? It’s not from sales reports, no those are just numbers. It’s not from reviews that they write, no those are just words. No, it’s what they say about the book and the author. If they recommend you to other people, the seduction worked. The game is not getting one person to buy, but getting tens, hundreds and thousands to buy, which only happens when people talk about the experience. The experience will get you from the single sale a day to the bestseller list.

So the next time you decide to go out and market your book, think back to your days in the pickup bar, remember how you seduced your mark and focus on giving them the best experience both in their interaction with you and when they read your book, so that they go out and tell the world how awesome you are. That’s the art of marketing for authors wrapped up in the art of seduction.

Now, if you’ll excuse me.. I see someone I know over there…

Khalid Muhammad recently published his first novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office, a spy thriller based in Pakistan, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. In his professional life, he owns and manages a marketing services company that specializes in digital and social media marketing. Find out more about him at, Facebook or @AgencyRulesPK.


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