Book Marketing for Dummies

So yeah, if you read the title and immediately clicked on the link to read this post, you’ve come to the right place. You’re obviously slightly desperate and probably equally clueless, which is why you thought, “Book marketing for dummies? Sign me up!”. The idea for this post came about due to a text message from my cousin and fellow writer Inilya Spencer. She’s a new author and wanted to know if I had any advice regarding marketing. I was all, ummmmmm…nope.

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Then I thought about it for a few days and realized that I have learned a thing or two about book marketing over the last year. I’ve mastered the art of ballin’ on a budget.


Start a Blog or Website– To me this seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many authors are out in these streets without a web presence. As in, you go to Google them and all that pulls up is their Amazon book page. For real? Let me check my calendar real quick; yep, it’s 2015. As a legitimate author, you must have  web presence. Whether it’s a blog or website is up to you. But if a reader cares enough to seek you out, you should care enough to make it easy for you to be found. Plus, that blog or website creates a one stop shop for said reader to find all of your books in one place. Winning.

Join Goodreads–This is seriously the single best thing you can do for yourself as an author. In case you live under a rock, and are not privy to Goodreads, it’s a social network similar to Facebook dedicated solely to people who love books! I’ll admit that I slept on Goodreads for a while because I didn’t want the headache of managing another social media platform. I was stupid, but you don’t have to be. Even if your book is nothing but an idea at this point, you should still get on Goodreads quick and in a hurry. Once you’re there, join as many groups within your genre as possible and interact with them. You can use Goodreads to solicit book reviews from readers who actually have an interest in your genre, promote giveaways, drive traffic to your blog, and create ad campaigns, which we’ll talk more about later. Goodreads is so important that I’ll wait while you go there now. Seriously. (Add this to your shelf while you’re there.)

Work Your Social Media Jelly– Again, this seems pretty obvious, but you should have a few social media platforms that you’re comfortable using and are actively engaged in. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever. Pick your poison and promote yourself. Notice I said promote yourself, not your books. Social media is meant to be, well, social. As in readers follow you in an effort to get to know you, not just your books. Engage regularly. Post about random thoughts, family events, cute bunnies, that delicious burger you made or whatever. If you’re doing it right, it should be fun. If you’re doing it wrong, it becomes a chore and you get blocked for being a spammer. I’ve stalked the pros and I’ve noticed that most of them only post about their books when they have a new release or event coming up. Keep it classy and keep it moving.

Postcard Anyone?–As you can see in the text message pic above, I love a good postcard or bookmark. These are oldie’s but goodies in the marketing game. They’re an inexpensive way to promote your book. Get some great ones designed with your basic information and pass them out like candy. I carry a stack in my purse. You can give them away at the hair salon, grocery store, book store, library, gym or wherever. They’re like over sized business cards that you should never leave home without.

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Ad Campaigns–This is one marketing strategy that’s going to cost you a little more than time. Ad campaigns are targeted ads that run for a specific period of time on a particular platform. You pay-per-click on your ad. The good thing about these types of campaigns are that you get to choose your budget, the length of time the ad will run and your target demographics. Some platforms that offer per click ads are Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve only run one ad campaign and I used Goodreads. So far I like it. Using a $25.00 budget I designed an ad that will only be shown to readers that previously rated books by similar authors in my genre at 3 stars and up. This is an awesome feature. I write in Christian Fiction and I listed about 20 other authors in that genre. It’s great that I know my ad is being seen by people who are fans of the genre and who also take the time to rate books they read.

Put Your Book on Sale–Fluctuating the price of your book is a great way to draw attention to it. Make it 99 cents for a period of time and hashtag the mess out of it on Twitter and other platforms. Contact promotional book sites to have them list it during your sales period. List it under the Kindle Count Down Deals.  If you’re only selling your book on Amazon, you can also enroll it in the KDP Select for maximum exposure.  One of the best tried and true strategies is to offer one of your older books for free to help boost the sales of your newer books.

Show Up and Show Out–One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a super popular author who said that new authors should focus on becoming well-known where they live. She admonished authors to keep their efforts local because it’s cheaper, easier and just makes good business sense. Go to every local book related event you hear about. Call up local bookstores and ask them to order copies of your books. Contact your local libraries and offer to host a reading or donate copies of your books. Join local book clubs.  Look for opportunities to showcase your books through speaking engagements and community events. Get out there and strut your literary stuff!

The American Way– Last, but certainly not least, you can always pay someone to market for you. I’m in cahoots with my blogger friend Quanie Miller who has just started her own business which assists writers with all things publishing related. You can pay someone to do the leg work for you and do what we all would rather be doing anyway: write!


I hope this helped get the wheels turning for those of you who don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to marketing. With a lot of effort and patience, you can sell your books. Once I stepped up my marketing game, I’ve watched that little graph on my sales report steadily climb over the last month. As long as I’m selling at least one book a day, I count it a success.

By the way, you can get my cousin’s new release here! Can you tell I’m excited for her in this pic? Excuse the treadmill and random suitcase in the background. I guess we stay ready to go ’round my way.

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What kinds of marketing advice do you have to offer? Don’t leave us hanging! Tell us all about how you get down in the comments below!

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Facebook Fan Page, or Nah?

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I’ve been low-key stalking authors and entrepreneurs on Facebook for a while now. I’m not ashamed to say that cyberly speaking I’ve been lurking in dark alleys, sitting low in my ride and hiding behind oversized newspapers. Which in and of itself should have been a red flag because when’s the last time you saw anyone read an actual newspaper in public? There’s an app for that. But, since no one can really see me, it doesn’t matter. Ok, so this little analogy has gone way off base. Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s worth it for an author to have a dedicated fan page on Facebook. Is it worth the hassle? Does it benefit the author and provide maximum exposure? And the ultimate bottom line: does it help sell books? Surprisingly, the answer is more complex than you might think.

LET’S START WITH THE BENEFITS:

Scheduled Posts— With a fan page an author has the ability to schedule posts for particular days and times. This means that they don’t have to actively post links to their websites, promotional sales, etc.  They also have the benefit of posting content at peak times without disrupting their personal schedule. For instance, an author that lives on the west coast, but has a large fan base on the east coast can schedule posts during the east coast lunch hour: a time when most people check their social media. If an author is a planner, they can schedule constant posts for weeks in advance. A definite plus when considering an authors actual job is to write amazing books, not juggle social media. But that’s a whole other post.

Advertising— Facebook offers advertising incentives for businesses. When an author chooses to create a fan page, they have the opportunity for targeted marketing. At a price of course. For a daily budget ranging from $5.00 to $20.00 Facebook will advertise your page or author website to people who have interests related to the author’s content.  A good example is a children’s book author who chooses to target her advertisements to women aged 21-35. The promotion can be a one time deal, or run continuously until the author chooses to stop.

Stats— On the fan page Insights tab the author has access to statistics that tell them how many people their content reached, how many ‘liked’ it, how many people clicked on links to other content (like blog posts), and overall engagement. There is also the option to boost individual posts by paying a fee. Something that can be really helpful when promoting a new book or event.

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NOW ON TO THE ANNOYANCES:

Interaction–With a fan page authors are limited in their interaction with their fans. Meaning that they do not have access to their fan’s page’s and cannot comment or like their status’. There is no news feed on a fan page, so the opportunity to engage with other people is limited to anyone that might comment on the author’s status. In my cyber stalking I discovered that many authors counteract this problem by having both a personal Facebook page and a fan page. They ‘friend’ all kinds of people and are better able to interact with them.

Unseen Posts–The business phenomenon that is Facebook is far from stupid. They’re not about to give away what they can get someone to pay for. Chances are that if someone takes the time to create a fan page, they’re looking for exposure and will eventually have something to sell. Therefore, if an author wants exposure, they’re sure going to pay for it. Without opting to use Facebook’s advertising, many posts from a fan page will get lost. News feed exposure is based upon ‘likes’. Posts with the most ‘likes’ appear at the top of users news feed’s. Therefore, if an author doesn’t have a huge and engaged fan base, many of their posts will never see the light of day. Facebook will make sure the author knows this by showing them on their handy-dandy stats page. Like I said, far from stupid. Again, smart authors counteract this by engaging on their personal Facebook page. When they’re ready to drop a new book, or offer a sale on an old one they can reach more people on their personal page.

Marketing/Engaging Using Personal Page–An author must be careful to remember that, once they decide to use their personal page to mix business and pleasure, they take certain precautions. Everyone that is a friend on Facebook ain’t friendly. Personal information like where the author lives, their spouses or children’s legal names, pictures of their homes or possessions should be shared with caution. It’s also important to remember that a published author has a brand, and status updates or posts should never conflict with that brand.

THE ANSWER:

I don’t have one. Whether or not to have a Facebook fan page is totally up to the individual. There are pros and cons to both having and not having one. Do some research and find out what works best for you.

And I’m pretty sure you saw this coming….Connect with me on my Facebook Fan Page!!!

Chime in authors: Do you have a Facebook fan page? Do you find it easy to reach and interact with people using it? Would you recommend that a new author start a fan page or simply allow strangers access to their personal page? Any precautions if they choose to do that? Feel free to leave a link to your fan page in the comments!

Photo credit: dkalo / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: boltron- / Foter / CC BY-SA

 

 

 

Self Publishing Series, Step 5: Connect With Potential Readers

potential readersThe day has finally arrived. Your polished book is ready and available for readers to enjoy! Now what do you do? Why, you market of course! I strongly debated whether or not to even write a post about marketing simply because, to put it quite plainly, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing! The struggle is real. Then I reminded myself that this blog is not about me being an expert, but about creating a community of writers, both seasoned and new, coming together to share knowledge. It’s also about connecting with people who love reading. That’s when the light finally clicked on! Marketing for writers is simply a way to connect with current and potential readers. When I think of it that way, the rest is a piece of cake. I LOVE connecting with readers.

Fortunately, we’re operating in a time when it’s easier than ever to connect with fans. There are so many outlets available. Social media has completely changed the marketing game. Writers have the opportunity to connect with readers via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Tumbler, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Blogging, E-mail blasts, newsletters and the list could go on….and on. Which leads me to my next point.

Get ready to get on your grind. Marketing these days could easily become a round the clock job. For independently published authors it practically is. I’m not kidding.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending more time marketing than actually writing. Balance is key. Social media is both a gift and a curse to the modern self published author. My advice is to pick your social media platforms carefully, then put in the time and effort required to build a following. I know that some authors believe that you should create a profile with every single available social media source, but I disagree.

If the point of marketing is to truly connect with potential readers, you can only do that if you’re dedicated to faithfully using that particular social platform. For example, what’s the point of creating an author page on Facebook if you rarely log in to it? I think that the best route is to dive right into a few select outlets and really seek to engage with your followers. Hopefully in the end, whatever source you choose will become less of a required chore and more of a joy as you build sincere relationships.

So that’s my two cents on marketing for now. Future posts to come on other marketing strategies and tips such as: creating a solid brand, soliciting book reviews, etc. As I navigate my way into successful marketing, I’ll take y’all with me! It would be a real shame if I ended this post without inviting you to connect with me via the social media outlet of your choice right over there——>>>>> Pick one, you know you want to 🙂

What marketing strategies have you used or are using? Tell me about them in the comments below!

 

Photo credit: WorldLitToday / Foter / CC BY-SA