For business owners, field experts and thought leaders, writing a book as a tool to promote their business, bring in new clients, and build a speaking career is a growing trend. And they’re not the only ones. It seems everyone is writing a book, and that means that everyone has a book to promote. So, how do you stand out amongst the flood of new books being published every day?
Keep in mind that the hard work doesn’t end after you’ve finished writing the book; instead it shifts to promoting it. I know that seems daunting, but after working and speaking with thousands of authors, I have found that there are specific things that work every time – and others that don’t. Keep in mind, some of this may need to be adjusted to fit your genre and audience, but success leaves clues!
- Don’t set it and forget it: The most important thing to remember when planning your book promotion is that it is a dynamic process. With changes in technology, algorithms, and public preferences, what has been effective in the past will not always remain so in the future. When you implement a strategy you want to monitor and adapt it. Again, success leaves clues, so while you are monitoring what is working with your campaign, also monitor what is working for other authors in your market. I typically follow author blogs, marketing blogs, and publishing blogs, and compare and contrast what I find. When I hear about the same strategy, site, etc. from multiple sources, I pay attention. This signifies a beginning trend, and it’s something you need to put some weight in. There are several sources where you can look for new trends to implement: industry conferences, industry blogs, and fellow authors in your genre.
- Start a newsletter: There is a growing trend of paid exposure in social media, which is making it harder to get exposure. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and G+ already offer paid exposure, suggesting we can expect more paid exposure in the future. While none of these sites will go into a 100% paid format, you will see a sharp decline in engagement if you have a free account. Building a newsletter is a way to make sure that you have a consistent audience who will see your content – with no surprises.
- Offer something your followers want: To retain and attract followers, you need to offer something they cannot get anywhere else. In the past, offering a free chapter of your book was a great incentive, but now that is standard on Amazon. So what should you offer? Don’t give them something they can get elsewhere without having to give up their email: offer checklists, tool kits, the chance to gain a sneak peek at material not yet available to the public, a 15-minute free consultation, etc. If you’re a fiction author, consider a monthly drawing for a gift card or give away a couple Kindles throughout the year, they’re surprisingly affordable now and it’s simple, and an easy way to build a following.
- The power of short: In my business, authors with more than one book always do better than those with only one title to their name. I know that writing and promoting more than one book seems unmanageable, but keep in mind that full-length books aren’t always the secret to success. Sometimes 10,000 or 20,000 words are more than enough to get the message across. Shorter books give you more time to write and expand your library, and provide additional promotional opportunities. You can bundle these shorter books into sets for various promotions in the future.
- Audio books: Believe it or not, audio books are the new black with a strong, rising market to reach readers. And why not? In today’s on-the-go society, making books even more accessible makes sense. It’s pretty easy to convert your book into audio format. I recommend that you check out ACX via Amazon; you can find audio talent there as well. Typically a book will take about 8-10 hours to complete and cost you $300 per finished hour. Plus they’re becoming much more affordable for readers these days so we’re breaking down that hurdle as well.
- Understand the power of free: It’s important to always have one thing for free, as you can really benefit sales across the board by rotating free days across your books. This is more challenging when you do not have multiple books, but remember what I suggested before with the power of short. These are simple ways to grow your library.
- Be accessible: Sometimes authors ask me if they should really be on this retail site, or that one, to which I say: “Yes – be everywhere.” When it comes to marketing your book, be ubiquitous. Even bestselling authors subscribe to this philosophy, and it’s part of why they’re successful. But take this advice with a grain of salt, because your time is valuable. So, while I don’t advocate being on every social networking site, (because who has the time?) you can list your books on several retail sites that require nothing but the time it takes you to post the listing. Remember when we talked about the power of free? There are several sites that will list your free eBook, which is a great way to get your book in front of a lot of interested readers: http://amarketingexpert.com/ebook-deal-guide/. Besides free eBook sites, keep in mind blog appearances in general. Some authors will turn down offers to be featured on someone’s website, or reviewed by a blogger who isn’t “big enough.” I think this is a mistake. Now, sometimes a site may not be a good fit for topic or genre reasons, but for the most part, I would encourage you to accept invitations gracefully, no matter the size of a given blog following. Every blog appearance is another way of sharing your book with your target market.
- Unleash the power of your Super Fans: I can’t emphasize this point enough! Now, more than ever, it’s essential to engage your fans to help you sell books. You’d be surprised how quickly these reader/author bonds form, and most of your dedicated readers are willing to go the extra mile to help you! I call these fans “Super Fans.” How should you ask these Super Fans to help you? First, make them feel important; make them feel they matter a lot to the success of your book (because they do). You can do this by offering them incentives, deals and other exclusive content. Regularly remind them how important they are and offer them free “swag” to share with their friends (other readers). I know one author who sent one of her readers, a hair salon owner, some free books, bookmarks and other swag to put in her shop. The results were so positive, the reader keeps asking for more stuff for her salon. Get creative with your super fans, and if you need help with something, ask them. They are a great resource, and a key to your success.
The road to successful marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you put as much effort into marketing your book, as you did into writing it, the pathway to success is much more navigable. Simply implementing these suggestions and keeping up to date with industry trends will help you guide you along the way. While there are no guarantees, I have found these suggestions can lead to more exposure, more super fans, and more sales.
What more could an author want?