As authors, our biggest conundrum isn’t coming up with ideas, plots, or characters. It’s marketing. It’s so easy to label marketing as difficult, not in our wheelhouse, and an activity we creative people simply do not recognize. However, marketing is everything we already know. Marketing is extremely creative and done right, totally connected with the wonderful book (fiction or nonfiction) that we’ve written. It’s all a matter of dropping our distaste for marketing and giving it a real chance. After all, marketing is the nerdy one in the corner wearing thick glasses, the kind we super creative types seldom spend serious time with. Go on. Take a shot. It could be sales success at first sight.
Like any first date, there needs to be a few ground rules. First, forget everything you thought you knew about marketing. Second, open your mind to concepts you haven’t heard before from any your author friends. And third, be focused and consistent in your marketing efforts. Really, really consistent.
Here are four tools to help you find real author marketing success in 2016.
STOP MARKETING TO OTHER AUTHORS – Yes, I do understand. Other authors are our friends. We love the support and camaraderie, the emotional and creative help, and especially the feeling that we’re not in this alone. That’s all wonderful and very nice, but have you ever really thought about this from a marketing point of view? First of all, other authors are your competition. And when it comes to marketing, they seldom, if ever, know any more about marketing than you do. Keep in touch with other authors for writing craft and support, but strategically step away for marketing.
I know that authors do buy books, but spending a majority of your time and effort marketing to other authors will never get you to the top ten sellers list. Trust me, Hershey’s Chocolate marketing executives aren’t hanging out with Mars Candy marketing executives on Facebook sharing promotional strategies. Step away from other authors. Eliminate them from your twitter and Facebook accounts. Stop promoting your books on FB groups loaded with, and targeted to, other authors.
Real marketing is about identifying audience and connecting with them. The first step is to stop surrounding yourself with the competition. Recognize marketing as the success tool to create awareness for your book and gain sales.
SEEK BROADER AUDIENCES – Okay, so now that you’ve purged all your author friends out of your twitter and Facebook accounts, who are you going to talk to? Well, eliminating the social part of social media will drastically open a lot of time for you to do some real marketing. The most important thing to do now is seek out broader audiences. We all know to join the book sales groups on Facebook, and follow all the book clubs and book reviewers on twitter. But there’s far more than that. You just need to think creatively – in relation to the book you wrote – to find them. Here are a few brief tips.
- If your write Romance, remember, the biggest audience for romance is women. Not just women who love to buy romance books, but women in general. They love romance films, romance television shows, romance in travel, clothing, etc. In other words, while you’re joining Facebook groups for marketing, take a look at groups that talk about romantic things like dating, finding the perfect man, and fitting a dating life into the single parent life. Think of the reader of your romance as a woman with a whole life, not just a book buyer/reader life. Reach out to romance lovers on twitter through romance film accounts (just go to the romance film’s twitter account, and all films have a twitter account these days) then click on the followers. VOILA! You’ll see hundreds and hundreds of women who love romance. Follow, follow, follow and most will follow you back because your twitter account description will be about you and your romance book(s).
- If you write Historical, seek out new friends and followers and groups that focus on the elements of that historical book. The clothing, the weapons, the parts of the world, the historic landmarks. Relate to a new audience that already loves what you’ve written in your book.
- If you write nonfiction, how to, or memoir books, focus on the unique hooks within those books and target groups and audiences that are interested in those things. Think WIDE. If your book is about organizing your life, look for all the people who can benefit from this book—mothers, crafters, day care facilities, teachers, hobbyists—the list can be endless. You may not always find a Facebook group that directly targets your topic, so consider creating one. Think about speaking and doing book events at places that relate to your topic, like craft stores, pet shops, day care facilities, teachers group meetings. Step away from the norm. Be creative.
- If your book is loaded with powerful imagery, no matter what the genre might be, consider using Pinterest. Create a board that is pinned with imagery that matches the feeling of your book—along with your own descriptions under those pinned pictures that relate to your story and a buy link for the book. Now you have something else to post instead of the tired old “buy my book” links on Facebook and twitter. Be sure to talk about your Pinterest board in all your unique hook connections. It’s visual, and that’s an added punch,
- Whatever you write, fiction or nonfiction, can be extremely effective in the YouTube universe, but ONLY if you creatively stand out and apart. Boring book trailers are no longer effective, however, if you have one of your book’s characters write a diary and make it a series of YouTube 30 second videos, you can really catch attention. If you have written historic, focus on things in your book, like suits of armor or medieval weapons, explaining how they work, how they were used, and how masterful your characters are with them. BE CREATIVE. Use a talking sock puppet for a humorous book, have the entire 30 seconds focused on a Victorian pair of button down women’s boots or corset while you voice your 25 word pitch. Make people raise their brows and want to tell others about it. And of course, never forget to get your book cover and buy links on the closing frame.
THINK ABOUT CROSS MARKETING – Cross marketing is sort of like using someone else’s money to make money, only in this case we’ll be using someone else’s audience to sell books. Not another author’s audience, but an audience related to one of your book’s unique hooks. This is something really cool with the potential for great ales success.
For example, if there is a dog in your book, a dog that plays a big part in the plot (not a stray that sows up once on page 23), dog lovers can be a major audience for you. Think about everything people do with and for their dogs. They go to dog parks, use doggie training schools, doggie day care, pet supply stores, and so much more. For this strategy you need to step away from the book world and think completely about your unique hook. A great technique is to locate an online healthy dog food website and contact the company about contributing content for that website. You would write a 1,000 word monthly article about dogs for their website, and in return they would permit you to post your book cover and buy link. It’s a win/win. They get monthly creative content that keeps their customers coming back for the next article, and you get access to all their dog loving audience.
This works with any unique hook—coffee, cigars, antiques, vintage clothing, pets, candy, horses, music, anything!
CONSIDER CHARITY CONNECTIONS – Here’s a simple tip to seriously help your bottom line, but it only works when the chosen charity is deeply connected with the elements and unique hooks in your book. You can do this three ways.
- First, simply donate a portion of your annual sales to a unique hook related charity. Make sure this is stated on your book cover and your website, and make note of it in your blogs and social media.
- Second, find out what fund raising activities the unique hook charity holds in your area during the year and simply participate in the event. Donate a reading basket loaded with copies of your books, coffee mugs and a pound of coffee. Or offer to speak and do a book sale/signing at the event with a portion of your sales going to the charity. Make sure to promote the event.
- Third, create an entire event to support the charity. Notify the local media and communities and have a lot of fun with it. The charities are always supportive of these events and you will get a lot of visibility, as well as do something good for a charity you care about.
There you are; four powerful tools for author marketing success in 2016. Questions? I’m here to help.