One of the biggest issues that comes with being an author is marketing. It is an activity creative people seem to dislike as much as monkey brains and cold cooked spinach. Yet, marketing is everything you already know… as you will find out “Everything you need to market your book well is already written in your book.”
A writer and a marketer are two very different kinds of people. There’s no way an author can actually think like a business person, right?
I’ve heard it a million times. “I’m creative, I can’t think like that!” “My right brain and my left brain do not work well together!” It’s not true at all. The fact is that marketing is very creative. It begs for inventive and imaginative solutions to your sales and promotional challenges. And your marketing muse is looking to you for great ways to get the message out. Here’s the beautiful truth about marketing. Everything you need to market your book effectively IS ALREADY WRITTEN INSIDE YOUR BOOK. You’re already a marketing genius and didn’t even know it. Often authors focus on genre and forget that their book is about more than genre, pages, or cover art. It’s about events, locations, character habits, and powerful unique hooks. Those are the ways to connect with an audience, and the paths to doing that are extremely creative and fun. Marketing is right in your wheelhouse! It’s the non-creative nonfiction writers who have the biggest challenges with marketing. Fiction is loaded with unique hook solutions for creative marketing.
Why does an author have to market their books? Isn’t that someone else’s job?
Who’s job? The publishing industry has changed drastically over the past two decades. Long gone are the massive marketing departments at the big publishing offices. There are no more publisher sponsored author speaking and book signing tours. No ads, no billboards, no television commercials to push sales for an author. Unless an author is financially able to hire a publicist, it falls to the author alone…even the authors published by the big guys. The most they get is a listing in the publisher’s catalog. If you look at it in a positive way, this is a good thing. You can develop your strategies and be in control of your book’s image. The key is not to be afraid of marketing but to see it as a creative arm of your author career.
I can’t afford to market. How am I supposed to get the word out?
I always guide my author clients to begin with all the amazing free marketing platforms available. However, you need to use these platforms carefully. Social media is not for socializing. It’s a tool for sales. The main goal is to build the RIGHT following to talk to. First, eliminate all your author friends from your Twitter and Facebook account. They are your competition and once you’ve build your prospective book buyer audience, all they’ll do is post their books to your hard-earned following. Think about this for a moment. Do you think Hershey Chocolates and Mars Candies hang out together on Twitter and Facebook and share marketing ideas and customers? They don’t because it’s not good business. Keep one Twitter or Facebook group so that you have a place to hang out with your author friends and talk about writing, just keep your marketing separate from your author friends.
I’ve tried everything, marketing just doesn’t work. Why waste my time?
Now I get to explain why it isn’t working and how to get it steaming along and creating sales! As I said earlier, everything you need to successfully market your book is already written in your book. It’s time to dive deep into your story and pick out all those unique hooks. Is the story about a gardener? Then seek out Facebook Gardening Groups and Twitter followers who love gardening. Join those FB groups because their membership is your audience. As long as you post things about gardening first, and your book last, they will become loyal fans and followers. NOTE: I didn’t mention the genre. That’s because you already know where genre readers are and those places are loaded with other genre writers. However, when you take your murder mystery about a gardener who finds a body under her petunias to people who love gardening and gardens, they CONNECT. Blog about gardens, flowers, seasonal blooms, etc. and at the end of every blog entry show your book cover and the buy link, along with a great 25 word pitch. People don’t want to hear “Buy my book!” They want to hear what they like to hear, and in this case, it’s gardening. Your unique hooks might be dogs or cats, swimming, small town living, anything substantial in your book. These are the things that build bigger, broader audiences to reach out to. This takes your marketing away from the constant shouting competition and into new, large spheres of influence. Keep in mind…book buyers are people with whole lives. They not only buy books, they also walk their dogs, take their kids to little league, go dancing, and travel, and cook, and play musical instruments. People want to be connected with, not shouted at. This technique goes a long way to making those connections.
All my author friends are recommending I do a free book giveaway. They say it will get my name out there. Does that work?
Um … let’s think about this. What is the value of free? Free has no value. It may get your name out there for the split second it takes to click to get your free book. However, do you really think they’re thinking about you after that? I have hundreds of free books on my Kindle. What books do you think I actually read? I read the ones I paid for because those have value to me. It’s all an illusion. Your book could very well be better than the one I paid seven bucks for but perception is EVERYTHING. If someone does get your book for free and loves it, I promise, they’re looking for you to give away your next book for free, too. It’s not a win/win proposition, and I’m always curious about authors who take pride in being listed as the top ten free books on Amazon. Here’s a great way to use a Free Book Giveaway. If you’ve written a series of five books or more, perpetually give away the first book in the series. The book buyer will understand that it’s a deal to pull you in and won’t expect you to give the rest of the series away. The perception is one of value, something they have to read and will love so much it won’t matter if they have to purchase books 2-5.
There’s no time to market, every moment I have must be dedicated to writing the next book. Don’t you think a writer’s time is best spent WRITING?
The answer to this is so simple it’s mind boggling. If you don’t market and have no readers and no sales, what’s the point of writing a second book? Marketing is part of being your author career. If you market and build the best unique hook following before your first book is released, it will produce. You can easily continue to add following and market as you write the second book. Without marketing, you‘re poking at the failure monster. With marketing, you have a greater chance to succeed.
Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven-year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations and has been a writer for print, television, and radio. Her nonfiction—FINDING AUTHOR SUCCESS, CROSS MARKETING MAGIC FOR AUTHORS, and the newest, WRITE BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN— focuses on helping authors by teaching them how to bridge the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. She is currently developing a series of workbooks to help authors build and perfect author marketing skills.
As an Author Success Coach she produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She teaches online and live workshops, clinics, and boot camps. She writes an author marketing industry blog and coaches authors, one-on-one, for sales success. Deborah belongs to several writing and professional organizations.
She has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years.