I don’t love marketing. A lot of the marketing I see is either founded on lies or on subtle deception. I don’t like that kind of marketing. And I don’t create that kind of marketing. My marketing is honest and built on integrity. That’s what I teach my clients. That’s what I teach my readers here.
If you can’t be honest, then the problem is not your marketing—the problem is your product or service. Period. No exceptions. No equivocations. If I have to lie to market your product, then I’m not going to accept you as my client. If you have to lie to market your product, then you’re doing something wrong before you even start marketing.
It’s simple. Marketing is simple if you have something worth selling. There’s still room for cleverness and all the other fun things about marketing. Those tools can be used with integrity. You can be clever and still be honest. You can be attention-grabbing and still be honest. You can even SPAM and still be honest (though I don’t recommend it, because the response rates are understandably horrid).
I am currently working on a novel called The Coveted One. If I wanted to call my book a “Christian novel,” I would have to lie to say those words. It’s not a Christian novel, though expressions of the Christian faith do appear in the novel. It’s a fantasy book. The founding premise, the rules it follows, the plot points, they’re all based on the fantasy genre. If I wanted to, I could remove the Christian elements and I’d still have a story; it would be a poorer story, but it would still be a story. I couldn’t, however, remove the fantasy elements and still have a story. If I took all the magic from this book, there would be no book.
Now, I have no intention of doing either. That’s not the point. The point is that when you market your book, you owe it to your audience to be honest. If it’s a Christian book, fine. If it’s a fantasy book, fine. If it’s both, fine. But you need to assess your work honestly. A story that has a dash of fantasy and a dash of Christianity isn’t a fantasy book or a Christian book. A dash doesn’t define the book. What rules do you follow (or intentionally break) in telling your story? What can’t you take out without taking out your story? What is the founding premise of your story?
This is how you discern what genre(s) your story is and what genres it is not. If you lie to widen your audience, then you may gain a few extra readers for this book, but you’ll lose them before your next one comes out. Is it worth it? Only you can decide that, but the answer for me is always, “No.”