Book marketing is a trial and error sort of business, but in my experience, most marketing is. You have to find what works for not only you, but for your target market–for your novel and your goals. The whole idea can be daunting, especially for those authors who claim hermacy is a huge benefit of being a writer. I’m not a hermit–I’m pretty sure all of you know that by now. Marketing is all about being bold, taking necessary risks, falling on your butt and getting back up again. It’s about determination and drive, and it’s anything but simple. There are some ‘essentials’ that I think can work for most every author, and that should/will be essential to every author if they wish to be successful. Yes, you need a marketing plan (PART 2 coming this Saturday), but we can be even more simple than that. A marketing plan can be overwhelming for a new author just entering the business, and while I implore that it’s very important–there are more basic things you should do. Just four simple steps:
- Readers come first- Yes, I know you write for yourself, but you’re staring at this page for a reason. You want to be successful! In the business world the client should always come first–word of mouth marketing is priceless in so many ways. Word of mouth is literally priceless, you don’t have to pay anything for it and not only that, it’s also the best, most profitable way that you can get your book out there. Why? I can sit here and tell you my book is amazing , it really is–I promise. Do you believe me? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The thing is the person who is the author will, of course, believe their novel is good–that’s why authors shouldn’t review their own novels. I’m going to be blunt, I see an author has reviewed their own novel and I roll my eyes. The reason word of mouth is the best is because consumers trust their friends, family, and even reviews more than they trust you. That they should, those opinions are more likely to be honest and unbiased. Your review of your novel cannot and will never be unbiased. Thus, your reader must come first. Happy readers tell their friends and family about you and promote you whenever they can. They paid to buy your book and they become your own promotion party (or lynch mob). Yes, you wrote the novel for yourself, but when you publish it you’re publishing it for your readers. You need to keep them in mind–especially on things like Goodreads, Facebook, your website and your blog. By interacting with your readers in a genuine way you show you care. This will make them far more apt to tell all their friends about you. It will become “I got to read this great book, and not only that–she/he is a great person!”. You can accomplish this by actively interacting on Goodreads, and when you are large enough starting Q&A groups where you interact with directly with the readers. No matter how big or small you are, your readers have the opportunity to take your career to new heights, so respect them and genuinely care about them. Go the extra mile.
- Sponsor Events– I can imagine that reading that probably made your head go into a tail spin. I don’t mean anything huge–I’m talking something like customer appreciation. It doesn’t need to be anything complex–it’s just going the extra mile to show you care. A great “event” is throwing a week long free promotion, or when you reach so many “likes” a signed paperback to a winner. You should find something that your readers enjoy and run with that. I’ve discovered that signed paperbacks are very popular, but to you they may be costly. Things that can be very cost effective are hand made swag items–I’ve used a variety of things, but I am very excited for the swag I’ve developed for my new novel, Just One Cup and the great part is, my readers are too. I’ve learned readers love swag.
- Don’t always talk about you– It is hard to read other books when you are trying to pound out a handful or more a year, but I cannot stress the importance of this. Read other authors, review them, support other authors and host them on your blog or website. This not only shows that you aren’t completely self-absorbed, it’s word of mouth for another author, and you show a bit of your personality with what you read. I would advise to not slander another author. It’s a tricky line when you are reading another person’s book, whether or not you know them. I often post updates of my thoughts on Goodreads–and I’ll be honest, they aren’t always shining. The thing I do make sure I do when I write a not so favorable review is to make sure it’s clear that it’s my opinion, and I’m not right. The worst thing you can do is write a review like you are God’s gift to reviewing, because then it looks like you as an author are a complete @$$.
- Collaboration and networking are gold–You can very effectively tie in 2 and 4 together. If you are networking with other bloggers, specifically book bloggers who are helping you, give them incentive to help you. No, I don’t mean a bribe–I mean something to thank them. What you will do is create strong relationships with bloggers who will tell more bloggers about you. It’s word of mouth again. Another thing is to make sure that when they ask you to do something, you do your best to do it for them. If someone wants to interview you, jump at it, someone wants a guest post, do it. I must advise that these things do take up a massive amount of time, but they are fully worth it. A great way to network is to check out Goodreads and meet bloggers there. I don’t mean you go on there and start spamming people. I mean you go there and interact to form genuine relationships with the bloggers. Then when you need their help, they will be more than happy to oblige. Collaborating with other authors is another key to the situation–host other authors on your blog. I’ve done this a few times–I find an author that I love, read their book, review it and then contact them for a guest post or interview. The great part is that they might return the favor–if they don’t it is still rewarding to know you helped another author. A word of caution I put here is trading reviews. I don’t do it. Why? It’s kind of like blackmail. You can’t give an honest opinion without fear of retribution on their review of your novel. Thus, when I am contacted by authors asking me to review their novels I kindly decline and instead tell them that if I read their synopsis and find it interesting I might pick up the novel on my own time, with my own money. I tell them that they can do the same for mine if they would like. I then offer to host them on my blog either way.
Oh, and never ever respond to someone’s review of your book, or tell your friend to respond to a review of your book that wasn’t fully to your liking. You might want to, but what you might do is alienate a potential reader of your other novels–a potential word of mouth promoter. Some negative publicity is always good anyways–not every reader will love your style, or all of your books, but they might love some of them. They might even enjoy watching you grow as a writer, BUT if you respond to their thoughts you will never get that chance. You will line yourself up for some very bad promotion via word of mouth.
- Marketing Plan Creation (Part 1): Defining Objectives (cgiovanniwrites.wordpress.com)
- “Selling My Book – Where Do I Start?” by Debra L Hartmann (authorshelpingauthors.wordpress.com)
- March is the Month for … Marketing! (joannegphillips.wordpress.com)
- How to Market your Book Successfully (1st Phase) (howtobookpublish.wordpress.com)