If there’s one thing I know about book marketing, it’s this Seth Godin-ism: everyone is not your customer.
As a reader, this makes sense. We don’t want to read every book that’s out there, right? Yet, when we publish our own books, why does that knowledge suddenly fall out of our heads?
It’s weird, isn’t it? We suddenly want everyone in the world to read our book. We don’t care if it’s the blue-haired grandmother in Peoria, the rough and tumble truck driver in Alaska, or the mouthy teenager next door, darn it — we simply now insist our book appeals to every demographic on the planet and nobody will convince us otherwise.
So, we share our book links everywhere with everyone and sit back and wait for those sales to roll on in. And then…
But, Rachel. I shared my link on Twitter like, a billion times! I told my friends all about it. My dentist even bought a copy. Look, look: I made this darling little video for Insta. Why haven’t I hit #1 yet?
It’s tough out there, isn’t it? According to Worldometer as of this writing, over 1.6 million books have been published so far this year across the world. That’s over 7K books daily, worldwide.
How can you stand out? Connect with readers? Sell some freakin’ books? Aside from writing an amazing, fantabulous book, you do this by making your book marketing more effective.
Here are my tips.
Determine Your Ideal Reader
You can’t start marketing to anyone if you don’t have a strategy (well, you can; lots of writers do, however, we’re talking about effective book marketing). Who do you envision reading your book? You gotta start somewhere.
Try this: what is your reader most likely to carry in their backpack, handbag, or briefcase? You’re a writer. Imaginize this stuff.
Make a list. Is your reader a teen girl, a businessperson, or a blue-collar worker? Write it all down. Then, head over to these resources:
- Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that provides tons of great info about our world. Enter whatever search terms you’re looking for about demographics and it’s likely in there. All free info. Use it to find out where your demographic spends time on social media.
- Hubspot: one of my favorite marketing blogs, hands down. If you know nothing about demographics or marketing, this is a great place to start. Their services are spendy, but the blog is free.
- Buffer: another favorite marketing and social media blog. Their blog is free also and separated by topics of interest.
Once you’ve determined who your demo is, you’ll have a better idea of where to find them.
Use Social Media and Email Strategically
On my free weekly Twitter #BookMarketingChat, a writer asked me what the best social media channel is for connecting with readers and I replied, “Email.”
Social media is great for building relationships with readers, connecting with readers and other writers, with book bloggers and reviewers, with musicians and finding out about news, politics, and celeb gossip, etc (if you’re into that), however, the conversion rate (aka, from click to sale) is low.
In fact, the rate is less than 1%.
Whereas with email, the measurable rate is comparatively, well, astronomical. According to OptinMonster, “Email marketing yields $44 back for every $1 you spend — a 4400% ROI. Wondering what’s the ROI for social media? So are we. So is everyone.”
So why bother with social at all? Because social media is great for:
- driving traffic to your site (which is why blogging is sooooooo important!)
- building relationships with readers and others in the industry
- placing ads (even a $5 ad can be effective when done correctly)
- claiming your intellectual property for SEO purposes
- author branding
- online visibility and exposure (name recognition)
You don’t have to do all of it all the time, and it doesn’t cost much beyond your time and effort. It is work, though. Once you accept that visibility and exposure don’t come easy, you’re on your way.
Writing a great book is only part of your publishing journey. Book marketing isn’t an option, regardless of whether you self-publish or go a more traditional route. Accepting and owning, no, embracing this fact, will help you enormously.
We can’t be everywhere, all the time. It’s inefficient and exhausting. The definition of efficacy is the power to produce an effect. In this case, narrow down tactics (or start slowly), and see what works. Toss what doesn’t. How will you know what works for you if you don’t do it?
Doing is one of the highest forms of learning. So, do it.
Take a look at the latest social media Pew Research to determine where your readers are, and implement ways to connect with them. If you hate Snapchat, skip it. If you love Twitter, connect with readers who are there.
This is the question you need to ask yourself: are you focusing your time on readers, building authentic relationships, or are you spamming book links and arguing politics?
Is that effective book marketing? Is that the best use of your time?
Where are you spending your time? If your readers aren’t on Facebook, why are you spending all your time there? Here’s why: it’s comfortable. We hate change. We’re too busy writing to bother to market.
#Truthbomb: It’s another form of procrastination. Get out of your own way, writer friends. It’s far easier to talk about what we won’t do and why it won’t work than to do the work and watch it fail.
Guess what? That’s how we learn. There’s no timetable for success here. Keep at it. The more you learn what works for you, the better prepared you are for the next book launch. And the next. And the next.
Oh, I know. I read all the reasons not to do certain things. I hear all the stories. In fact, I still have ‘gurus’ telling me that Twitter is ‘too new’ or ‘only for nonfiction writers,’ Instagram is just “a fad,” and Pinterest is only for weddings.
Ha. Twitter has been around 13 years and works for every genre and industry, Instagram has grown exponentially and has a higher conversion rate than any other social media, and Pinterest is now the third-largest search engine (behind Google and YouTube).
You can make your book available for sale on all these channels and they’re all terrific site traffic generators when you consistently post and share on them.
Since you can’t be everywhere, here is where I suggest you start (long before your book release):
- an email subscriber list and when you’re ready, a newsletter (most email marketing companies offer free options to start)
- an author Twitter account (free)
- an author Facebook Page (free)
- an author Instagram or Pinterest — one visual channel is important (free)
- YouTube if you like and are comfortable on video (free)
- A website and active blog (or blog on Medium under the Partner program to make a few bucks, or both) — free or minimal investment
- Goodreads and BookBub — this is where you’ll connect with genre readers (free)
These are the basic components of any author platform. Why do I suggest an author Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and not book-specific? Because we write more books and then what happens to those book accounts? We abandon them completely.
We brand the author, not only the book.
We can still discuss our book and our other interests under an author account (this is part of our author branding) regardless of which book we’re marketing (or pre-marketing).
If you’re not sure how to operate these social channels, a newsletter, or a blog, learn or hire someone who can help you! You’re smart. You wrote a book, didn’t you? There are plenty of Help Sections, how-to videos, blog posts (all free), and books to help you. Attend my weekly Twitter chat mentioned above, where I cover many of these topics (and have lots of expert guests).
If you become proficient (or at least, consistent) on that list above in a strategic way, I guarantee you will start seeing results of your book marketing — measurable results. Meaning what exactly?
·You’ll gain more followers on each social channel but more importantly,
·you increase reach (unique views) and engagement (likes, comments, shares)
·you’ll connect with readers at an organic level on social, in email, and on your blog
·which results in higher visibility overall on the topics you want to be known for (author branding)
·which, if all done well, results in book sales.
Remember, book marketing isn’t a race. Start slow and build. Put in the same effort you put into your writing your book. You get what you give.
I’d love to hear your feedback. Share what works for you and what doesn’t below in comments!
Rachel is the author of 6 nonfiction books so far (2 humor, 2 memoir/poetry, and 2 business books helping authors). She’s releasing 2 more this year.
Connect with Rachel on her personal site at RachelintheOC.com or on her business site at BadRedheadMedia.com, Twitter at @RachelintheOC or@BadRedheadMedia, Instagram, Facebook, and join her free weekly #SexAbuseChat on Twitter every Tuesday 6pm pst/9pm est or #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday 6 pm pst/9 pm est (just use the hashtag to join).
Want an insider peek at her writing and other marketing projects? Join her private street team!