In today's world, it has become increasingly easier (and cheaper) to self market your own novel. We owe most of this ease to the Internet— it has opened up a whole new world of connections and sales and people to sell to. In the past, most marketing strategies came from handing out posters, fliers, and even copies of your novel and hoping that it would spread through word of mouth. Since the Internet has changed the world of marketing, new ideas and tactics have also emerged. A big tactic is the idea of aesthetic.
Aesthetic is "a particular individual’s set of ideas about style and taste, along with its expression" (Aesthetic). The idea of aesthetic has grown and really taken off in popular culture in the last few years, which has led to its introduction to marketing, and the creation of "mood boards" (which are commonly used on Pinterest, but we'll get into that later). Pinterest has, in fact, become one of the top places to create the aesthetic for your novel or series outside of your own website. But how do you begin to create an aesthetic?
There are a variety of ways to begin creating an aesthetic. Most authors want the aesthetic of their novel to stand out from everyone else, which can be hard to do when you spend so long looking at everyone else's examples. You should start with deciding on a mood that you want to portray. This will set up the rest of your aesthetic, because from here everything you chose you will chose to match the mood. Next step is limiting yourself. This might seem backwards, but most aesthetics, at their base, are very simple. A simple collection of colors, feelings, and thoughts that join together to form an essence. When you limit yourself to, per say, only a few colors, it forces you to be more creative with these colors (Sweeny, 2014). The final step is just to start. When you're scrolling through Pinterest, re-Pin things that remind you of your novel. It's important to remember that you don't have to build your aesthetic in one day. It is an ongoing thing that you can create, and modify, as long as you wish to.
All of this might seem overwhelming at first, but, thankfully, many people before you have gone through the same thing. One blogger even went so far as to create a list of Do's and Don't's:
"Do get the right people on the bus; Your staff can make or break an aesthetic practice.
Do stay vigilant about monitoring your online reputation.
Do invest your budget into marketing tactics that will reach your key target audiences.
Do be selective about the companies and vendors you deal with; Choose your technology and product selection wisely.
Don’t spend money on marketing programs without carefully tracking results; Don’t just guess if it is working.
Don’t respond to negative reviews online directly to avoid escalating a conflict.
Don’t assume that because you have a website, patients will find you; You need to market your domain name.
Don’t jump on every social media platform all at once; Choose ones where your patients are most active first.
Don’t overlook traditional clinic marketing tactics, such as email marketing and open house seminars."
Using these Do's and Don't's can be a great place to start when using aesthetics to market a book. The next step in marketing your novel using aesthetics is to apply your aesthetic of choice to your webpage. This makes it the first thing someone sees when they google your novel, and gives them a taste of what the novel is like without having to read anything about it. Important things to consider when applying aesthetic to your website are color, images, textual content, navigation, alignment, consistency and continuity, and white space. (Pluff, 2011)
Color and white space are important to consider when designing your novel's website because they are the most powerful subliminal messages. Dark colors will evoke dark emotions, whereas colors like hot pink and bright blue will lead to happier emotions. White space provides a sense of calm in the midst of the color— breathing space, if you will. It provides a moments pause that ensures the reader doesn't become overwhelmed by your website.
Images and textual content are one of the easiest ways to portray your aesthetic, because they allow you to show exact examples.You can use specific words and phrases when writing on your site, and use certain images to back it up. This is much more obvious than the color scheme— it's where you really drive the message home.
Navigation and alignment are lesser known elements for building your aesthetic on your website. The main thing to keep in mind with these two categories is that, as your site grows in popularity, visitors might not begin on your home page. They might click in from an add or another post, so it is important to make sure that it is easy to find all parts of your site from all different pages (Pluff, 2011).
Lastly, it is important to keep everything the same throughout your site. Building an aesthetic means it needs to be the same across the board. If you start mixing ideas, thoughts, and moods, your aesthetic won't be clear and the followers of your novel won't understand what's going on.
Since the creation of Pinterest, it has grown and spread to become a marketing whiz. It has images of clothes, people, cats, places... the list goes on and on. Many people have chosen to make it the main source of their marketing, because of the idea of "mood boards." But how do you set up your Pinterest account to be a successful marketing tool, instead of just a click hole?
- Prepare your website for pinning. Add a "Pin me" or a "follow me on Pinterest" feature to your website, so that people know the two of them are linked. Also link your website on your Pinterest portfolio.
- Follow a wide range of boards. You might think that that 12 year old girl's travel board is useless, but it might turn out to have pins that your future self could be interested in. Dare I say... pinterested?
- When repinning things and adding pins to Pinterest, try to space them out throughout the day. When you dump all of your pins at one point in the day, followers are more apt to scroll through them without paying any real attention.
- Share interesting content on your blog and website. If you attach cool photos to articles you write, people will be more likely to share them onto Pinterest and then have them spread throughout the web.
- CHECK RECENT FOLLOWER ACTIVITY. See what content of yours they like and dislike. This will allow you to better curate your content, so that it has higher chances of being spread around the web. (Vaughan).
Now comes the challenge of "mood boards." What is a mood board, you may ask? A mood board is "a collection of photos that represent your desired aesthetic" (Hollatz). On Pinterest, this would be a board where you specifically pin pictures that relate to a certain book. These would change between books. Think in terms of Harry Potter. In the Philosopher's Stone, the board might include pictures of trains, London, owls, magic, and castles. Fast forward to The Deathly Hallows, and the board would include pictures of darkness, ruins, fighting, and hope. Since the books themselves have different moods, the boards would change to reflect that.
Many book lovers enjoy checking out the mood boards of their favorite books (I know I do!). It gives them more of an insight into what the author thinks of the book, and how the author wants you to see the book. Some book lovers look at different mood boards to decide if that's a book they would even be interested in, which is why it's important to only pin things to the mood board that are relevant to the book. Save your other boards for food recipes and cat pictures!
In the end, aesthetic can be a very helpful marketing tool when used correctly. It can draw in readers and give them insight into a book to see if they would enjoy it, or allow them to further explore a book they already love. Aesthetic is a way to make a great first impression on a potential reader, which is why it's so important for self-promoting authors to incorporate it into their marketing strategy.