Author discouragement when it comes to book marketing is at an all-time high. You’re not alone.
Most indie authors feel like they need to do everything when it comes to marketing and getting more book sales, so they shy away from it completely – cue image of an ostrich’s head in the sand. But it’s actually simpler than that.
It just takes consistency.
Currently there are 4,500 books released each day in the US, and while that number maybe seems daunting, consider this: 90% or more of the books released each day don’t get marketed. Sometimes it’s the publisher, the author, or a combination of both. Further, 99% of books published aren’t commercially viable, which means that they either aren’t edited, have bad covers, aren’t written well, or don’t realistically have a real buyer market. With these facts, the numbers you are facing to get noticed seem a lot less daunting.
There’s a book I’m reading called KNOWN: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age by Mark W. Schaefer. @markwschaefer
The book talks about what it takes to get “known” and it cites that, on average, it takes 30 months to get “known.” Now if this number elicited an expletive, just stick with me. Because during that 30-month timeframe you’re supposed to be out there doing stuff, building your list and getting attention for yourself and your book. You shouldn’t be languishing in obscurity, unless you’re doing all the wrong things. The thing that differentiates the successful authors from the non-successful authors is, once again, consistency. So doing the right things, on a consistent basis, will drive more exposure and more sales.
So what are those things? Well, let’s have a look.
Your super fans: I talk a lot about super fans because having a solid fan base is a fabulous way to gain more readers. Also, avid readers will help you market your book. When I speak to successful authors, they will tell me that aside from writing a great book, they do a lot of fan outreach. And I’m talking one-on-one connecting with fans, thanking them for reading and taking time to involve them in their book launch activities by giving them specials offers (like advanced reader copies) or involving them in cover reveals, or inviting them to name a character. If you don’t have a fan base, consider building one by making sure there is a way to directly contact you listed in your book. There are more tips on this blog post.
Small is the new big: Micro-influencers are the new big thing (pun intended). Why? Because when it comes to social media, users with smaller numbers are often bigger influencers. We used to be so swayed by huge, staggering numbers of a million followers, but now what we’re seeing is that these big social media accounts often have very low engagement. So if you’re looking to push your book to a solid market, consider engagement over numbers. For example, how many comments do they have on their blog, how often are they getting responses to their Facebook posts, how many people are interacting with them on Twitter. Interaction matters over fan numbers, so if you’re investing a lot of sweat equity in going after big fish and getting very little response, maybe it’s time to reconsider your focus.
Success leaves clues: Before you assume that your marketing isn’t working, first take a look at what you’re doing. When was the last time you looked at similar authors in your market? Ideally, ones who are seeing a good deal of success but are not necessarily a household name. Authors who are successful will often guide us in terms of how we might want to market our books. Take some time to peruse their blog and social media and I promise you, ideas will start to percolate. This is also a great opportunity, if you’ve felt like you’re just treading water, to dump some social sites that aren’t really helping you gain traction. Remember it’s not about being everywhere, but everywhere that matters.
Is stuff happening? As I mentioned earlier, according to the book Known, it takes 30 months to get “known” but during that time stuff needs to happen. Meaning if you aren’t getting any love in social media, or comments to your blog, then you’re probably not doing the right things. And believe me when I say that traction takes time. Many times authors who want to hire us want to see immediate results. Marketing isn’t cup-a-soup, you can’t just add water and voila, a meal! But as you progress through your campaign, stuff will start to happen. For example, maybe you get consistent reviews, or you continue to add followers to your social media platforms and these followers are also responding to your posts.
Ads aren’t a marketing strategy: When I do consultations with authors, I’ll ask the what they’ve done, thus far, to market their books. Many times they’ll say “I run ads.” Though I realize there was a time when ads were very popular, ads are not a marketing strategy. They can be used in conjunction with other things you’re doing, but ads as a single source for marketing is never a good idea.
One book wonder: A lot of times, authors want to write one book and “see how it does.” Having a single book marketing plan is never a good idea. In my seventeen years in business I have never seen an author gain enough success with one book that it pays for the marketing they’ve done. But once that second and third book hit, the marketing machine starts to pick up steam. And that’s another thing: if you’re going to write a second book, don’t wait too long to do so, either!
Don’t be too proud to beg: Need reviews, interviews, or local events? Beg. Well, not beg per se, but ask, nicely – and follow up, the key is making it easy to say ‘yes.’ Be prepared, be sure they know why their customers or followers would benefit, have the logistics figured out, tell them how you’ll also promote your collaboration. So often we forget that we’re connected with a lot of folks who are eager to help us, be it readers, friends or family. Perhaps they know someone at a bookstore or coffee shop or other market-appropriate retail outlet who could host an event. Or they may be great friends with a local A&E journalist. Never be afraid to ask for help, or tap into your connections.
At the end of the day you don’t need 1,000 marketing strategies. You only need a handful that continually build your platform and fan base, and that make sense for your buyer market and how they receive information. And, you need to execute those strategies consistently.
My homework for you is this: choose 3 things you can do better to promote your book over the next 30 days and hold yourself accountable to be consistent. Maybe it’s posting on social regularly, maybe it’s thanking reviewers on Amazon via the comments, maybe it’s pitching bloggers – whatever you choose, keep at it.
Research says it takes 21 days to form a habit – your habit should be book marketing.