We talk a lot about book publishing on this blog. We cover promotions, discounts, new publishing options. Sometimes marketing takes a backseat because, let’s face it, every book and every author is slightly different. It’s challenging to arrive upon hard and fast rules that will work for everyone (although 5 hours with a personal marketing assistant is pretty close, because of the personal nature of the marketing plan and 1-on-1 follow-up).
But given our nearly two decades of experience helping writers become published authors at Outskirts Press, we have been able to identify five top marketing tactics that can help authors find the success they are looking for. Here they are…
- Social Media – We know, we know. We mention this a lot. And you’re either already interested in social media marketing, or you aren’t. And by interested, we mean, you find yourself engaging in social media in your free time. If you naturally gravitate away from social media, you won’t have success marketing your book this way because, even though it is mostly free, it is also time consuming. And the only way time consuming things are profitable or “successful” is if you’re having fun doing it anyway. Fortunately, the term “social media” has become so broad nowadays that you have a pretty good chance finding something you like. You might find success on one platform but not another. Lots of people spend lots of their free time on Facebook when they can’t imagine anything more annnoying than Twitter. You’re usually either a Pinterest fan or a SnapChat fan. So instead of trying to cover all the social media platforms simultaneously, engage onlywith the platform(s) that you want to be on when you’re not promoting your book. Your fans or followers or friends will start to get to know the writer behind the book and before you know it, casually promoting your book from time to time won’t strike them as quite so gratuitous.
- Blogs – In some circles, blogging can fall into the more broad catch-all term of “social media” but blogging is a special kind of artform, and therefore a different opportunity, especially for writers. Since blogging already features the medium you are promoting (the written word), blogging is a natural promotional platform for many authors. Writers typically love to write, and most people are by defition of the “instant-gratification” variety. Well, blogs are the perfect combination of those elements. You can be writing at 9am and be “published” on your blog at 10am. And the more followers or subscribers you have, the more (and more immediate) the feedback is that will you receive. This, in turn, often fuels bloggers/writers to submit content to their blogs even more frequently, which, in turn, feeds the voracious appetites of their growing subscriber lists. Talk about a virtuous circle!
- Email – If you read any “cutting edge” marketing articles, or find yourself speaking with a marketing expert under 30, you might think email marketing is dead. Statistics show, however, that nothing can be further from the truth. For one, if your potential customer doesn’t use their email account anymore, they also aren’t going to read your book. If their attention span is only capable of 140 characters at a time, what chance do you have to attract them to your 700-page book? Those aren’t your buyers, so don’t try to pursue them. But your buyers probably WOULD be attracted to a newsletter or free ebook or whitepaper that you offer from your website or social media account in exchange for their email address. Just remember to always include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom, always give them valuable content, and always treat their time with respect. Building an email subscriber list takes time and is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but once you have one comprised of loyal and appreciative recipients, you’ll rarely feel disappointed by the results of sending them some valuable (and, yes, promotional) information.
- Online Reviews – If you’re a writer, you’re probably also a reader. So take a moment to write a book review on Amazon after finishing reading that latest page-turner. You can sign your review with your name, and add that you’re the author of such-and-such. Amazon gets so much traffic, often writing a valuable, thoughtful review for a very highly-ranked and popular book will lead to a noticeable uptick in the traffic to your book (just make sure your sales page turns browsers into buyers). You can also systematically (and respectfully) target the top 100 Amazon reviewers and offer to send them a free review copy. They get inundated with offers, so don’t press it or become belligerent; but if they like your query, and think they’ll like your book, they’ll almost certainly request a copy, read it and write a review for it. This is an actionable way to gather more online reviews for your book and you want as many reviews as you can get. Think about it. If you’re thinking about taking a new book to the beach, are you going to try the one with 100 reviews, or 2?
- Publish Another Book – Sure, coming from the A+ Rated and #1-Rated self-publishing company according to the Better Business Bureau and Top Consumer Reviews, respectfully, this tactic sounds a bit self-serving (remember that valuable and promotional tactic mentioned above?), but in addition to sounding self-serving it is also true. Our authors who publish a series of books have a built-in audience for every book after the first one. And when they take advantage of other opportunities (like mentioning their previous books and reviews and blurbs in the pages of their new ones), it’s like getting free advertising to a very select, very desirable market. This is leverage. It simply does not take three times as long to market 3 books as it takes to market one. And the more leverage you have, the faster and more successful your book marketing is going to be.