There’s a lot of information out there for authors, and while some of it is great, the best book marketing strategies are fairly simple.
That’s right, I’ll say it — book marketing doesn’t have to be overly complex or confusing!
But I realize it can get that way, and quickly, when you’re lacking a clear roadmap and you start spinning your wheels.
So this week I was inspired by a post I saw on Inc.com because it hit all the high points that aren’t just important, but are often overlooked.
Plan Your Launch Around Your Goals
I think this is so smart. Too often authors jump headlong into publishing a book without identifying their specific goals and, more particularly, their marketing goals beyond their publication date.
The problem with a lot of launches is that authors hyper focus on the first week or so of publication, but beyond that they really don’t know what they want to achieve, besides sales.
And in case I haven’t said it enough, sales aren’t a goal because you don’t control how other people spend their money.
Goals need to be comprised of action items, which should drive your marketing plan, and well beyond publication day.
Yes, launch day is exciting, but trust me, it’s more exciting to see your book doing well 90 days after it releases.
So planning a launch that supports both long- and short-term goals is the best book marketing plan you can create.
Build Relationships Before You Need Them
I often tell authors the best kind of networking is when you have nothing to sell.
When we aren’t in sales mode we’re often more authentic (and certainly less pushy), and genuinely more curious about those we’re networking with, we’re not just seeing them as a means to an end.
The other reason I like this is because you can get to know influencers much better by actually supporting them.
So how do you do that?
Share their content, comment on their posts – engage with them!
Pre-Publication is a great opportunity to do this.
Then when you’re ready to launch, the influencers you’ve been networking with will already know you, they’ve likely interacted with you, so your pitch to them won’t come in cold, which makes it more natural for them to give you a yes.
Engage Your Audience
This is often hard for authors. I mean, I get it.
Being an author is isolating and the idea of doing tons of self-promotion probably makes you want to run and hide. But trust me, it’ll be worth it.
To those of you who feel like this isn’t your “thing” I would offer this: find ways to communicate about your book’s progress (and launch) in a way that’s exciting and engaging.
Tease that you’re up to something, share the cover and get input from potential readers. Ask them for feedback and opinions.
One thing that authors always underestimate is how interested people are in the fact that you wrote a book. Use that to your advantage.
Readers are your best book marketing tool every single time.
But engagement goes well beyond teasing a book that’s not out yet and that’s why (much like networking) it’s a really good idea to start this early, you’ll find other kinds of content that come naturally to you, and you’ll learn what your audience responds to positively.
The earlier you start, the sooner you’ll be able to figure out what works and what doesn’t because readers will tell you what they like by their reaction to what you’ve shared. That’s something to pay attention to.
Don’t Copy Blindly
You see something that someone is doing and marvel at how strategically clever it is, It’s the best book marketing idea you’ve ever seen, and you want to do it too!
But should you?
I say maybe, because remember, not everything belongs in your repertoire of sales tools.
For example, you may love that an author created all this cool swag and their readers are tagging them on social after buying it, but is designing and selling retail something you’re really ready to take on?
Another example is Facebook ads. Some authors swear by them, so other authors hear this and start pumping money into Facebook, but what the newbies don’t realize is that the authors who get conversions from Facebook have established platforms and lots of superfans and followers that make the ad targeting work.
So again, just because it works for one author, doesn’t mean it will work for you, no matter how good your intentions are.
All that being said, getting to know authors in your genre is still a super smart move.
Not only is it great networking, it’s a fun way to see what everyone else is doing and it may spark some creative ideas that are in your wheelhouse – it reminds you of what’s out there, and it’s a reminder that marketing does work when all the details come together!
Get Into Amazon’s Also-Boughts
I’m a fan of most of the points in this piece but this one is a bit tricker.
Yes, Also-Boughts matter and I talk a lot about this concept in my Amazon book and in the Amazon classes I teach, but one of the best ways to make sure your book is getting seen by the right people is through Amazon ads.
When good ads are started early in the life of your book (or ideally during pre-order) they can really help to train the Amazon machine to get your book sitting in the right category.
The same can be said for optimizing your book, which is equally, if not even more important than creating ads – the truth is your ads will fail if your book isn’t properly optimized.
Yes, Also-Boughts are important, but they’re just one piece of the Amazon optimization puzzle.
So to let them stand on their own as one of these 7 tips without addressing all the other Amazon elements is a bit misleading when it comes to pulling together the best book marketing strategies you should be adding to your list.
People like what other people like and reviews go a long way to helping you create a more “likable” product page on Amazon.
Your #1 goal and one of the top action items on the list of the best book marketing tips should be getting reviews.
And we often rely on our friends and family to review our books and therein lies a problem: most of them don’t post a review.
It’s not because they don’t want to support you, or they didn’t enjoy your book – a lot of times it’s just because they forgot, or they genuinely don’t realize what a big difference their one review can make.
Remind them, help them understand, they will appreciate it and they want to support you so this is a time where you have to set aside any hesitations you have about being pushy.
Go Beyond the Book
Most authors don’t like the drudge work of being a self-promoter, for this reason the New York Times reported that, “only a small fraction of self-published authors sell enough books to make a living.”
This may seems like a depressing factoid, but here is the cornerstone piece to why this happens: authors neglect their current fan base.
The easiest person to sell a book to is someone who already knows (and hopefully loves) your work.
That’s why creating superfans is a fantastic way to keep building your empire. Quality over quantity matters here, don’t let your first 100 readers (sales) disappear into the night to never hear from you again because that’s 100 fewer sales you’ll get for your next book.
So where do you start?
Well, start with your book. Make sure there’s a letter in the back of your book so readers know how to reach you and invite them to get in touch and be a part of your tribe. Give them all the ways they can connect, and if you have a newsletter, special offer, bonus content, etc. highlight that specifically to sweeten the deal.
If you already have a newsletter list, when was the last time you used it to ask for help?
Things like: please rate my book on Goodreads, or “Don’t forget to review my book on Amazon” are great ways to generate some activity and to make getting your current fans involved in your success a normal part of your communication with them.
And spoiler alert: readers love this.
They love getting opportunities to connect with and support authors they love to read and admire!
I definitely recommend you check out the full article from Inc. here.
Resources and Free Downloads
How networking really affects your author brand
Understanding how to successfully incorporate diversity into your books
How to revive older titles so they contribute to your bottom line
Publishing is evolving, check out this social platform that’s helping poetry author monetize their work
Keep an eye on these audiobook platforms that are challenging Audible
All terrific ideas that I’m going to incorporate into my marketing plan as I prepare to launch my next two books in 2023!
Thanks for reading, Nancy! And good luck with your launch!
Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas. I struggle with marketing but your thoughts will help me organize mine.
Thanks for the helpful tips. Marketing is a mystery to me. This is helpful
You’re welcome, Julie – good luck with your efforts!
When the hard earned review is posted, what is the value of the helpful votes? Is there any magic number of helpful votes to keep that review on top of the others?
I heard your presentation at the emerald city romance writers meeting. Love all your tips.
Amazon is notoriously tight lipped on the specifics of their algorithms, but the more “helpfuL” clicks a review gets, the higher up it will show on the list of top reviews – for better or for worse!