BOOK Marketing 101

UPDATE 11/21: This post is for the bare basics of marketing a single book and building a good foundation as a writer. Dea Poirier has a wonderful post on Email Marketing as an Author that goes into detail on how to effectively (and legally) market yourself and your books via email.

Hi friends! Class is now in session.

Honestly, this week’s post was absolutely going to be a rant about Charles Dickens and his not so hidden misogyny (more on that later), but then one of my lovely Twitter followers started asking me some questions about how to market his book.

Fun fact, friends: my background is in marketing and advertising.

My actual degree from the University of Texas is in English Literature, but my minor was in advertising. I was about one semester short of a double major. I also worked at a marketing firm for several years before switching to audiobook narration full time. Before that, I spent several years helping to run a venture capitalist firm in Austin, Texas, doing everything necessary to help brand and launch entrepreneurs and their companies.

Anyway, credentials out of the way, I thought it might be fun to jot down some of the most basic essentials you need to market your book, and how to start your journey.

  1. Finish the book.
    • I know. This one seems obvious, but I don’t simply mean get to the end. Find beta readers and listen to them, edit and then edit again, polish that baby until it shines, take it on a pilgrimage to your editor and pray. (Side note: if you don’t have an editor, I highly recommend getting one. It is worth the investment. If you’re serious about selling your book, which I assume you are since you are reading this, then DO IT. Some of them even have payment plans, and you’ll be surprised how much you missed.)
    • Only once your book is beautiful and shiny should you continue. Why? Why shouldn’t you simply release it and test the waters? Because, my darling, there are terribly picky bloggers out there, like me, who will tear stylistic and grammatical errors to shreds. Not to mention major plot holes *shudder*. You can write the story of the century, but if it’s filled with issues:
      • It kills the credibility of your narrator.
      • It distracts from your overall story.
      • People will notice. Not just bloggers, but your readers. That is not what you want people to remember about your book. 
  2. Identify your target audience.
    • This is so important for about a million reasons, but it also helps you narrow your marketing efforts so that they are reaching the right demographic. How do you do this?
      • Start by determining the genre of your book. Find similar authors in your genre, and see who is buying their books, who they are marketing to. Goodreads is a great source for this, as their amazing users have compiled list upon list of books organized by genre, emotion, and pretty much anything you can think of. I was in Minnesota last week, and I looked up books to read when its snowing outside.
      • Another great way to find similar authors is to go to your local bookstore. Find the section with your genre and spend some time looking through their books. Jot down the names of authors with similar titles and look them up. Most authors have their own website, and many have blogs or newsletters in which they talk about their own experiences. Even if they don’t, you can see their marketing tactics when you look them up. Are their posts geared toward teens? What blogger community do they interact with the most? Keep in mind that many of these authors have publicists that are armed with statistics and connections, but there is no reason why you can’t make your own dent if you do your research.
  3. DO judge your book by its cover. Everyone else does.
    • I plead guilty. To be fair, I’m biased, but a good book cover is the first thing we see, be it online or in the store. A good book cover jumps out at you, and if it has an interesting summary to go with it, usually jumps right into my basket. This is one area where your earlier research in Section 2 comes in handy. What the covers look like of other books in your genre? What about the books most similar to yours? Obviously your cover shouldn’t look exactly the same as theirs, but there are subtle cues in the design that scream the book’s genre, and informs the reader where it belongs. A great multimedia example of this is how the Stranger Things logo is actually inspired by Stephen King’s book covers, because they wanted something that is automatically recognized as horror and sends a chill through the audience. Subtlety is an art form.
    • Not artistically inclined? There are several wonderful graphic designers who make a living doing book covers. Make sure to find one who specializes in your genre. They might even feature your book cover in their portfolio and on their social media.
  4. Network.
    • Talk with other writer, book bloggers, your readers. Even your graphic designers, you never know when you’ll be in a pinch and they’ll go the extra mile for you because they know your face. I did a book cover for a friend last month as a favor, and I hadn’t done graphic design in over a year.
    • Your peers are some of your biggest supporters. They know how hard it is to make it as a writer and with them, you get what you give. They’re in the trenches with you, and we all support one another.
  5. Social Media.
    • Okay, so technically social media should go under networking, and it does. There are some key points, however, that I feel need to be addressed here. Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
    • The number of followers that you have is irrelevant. That’s right. I said it. You could have ten thousand followers, and someone with one hundred could outsell you if their network is more interactive than yours. Why? Because people who interact with you actively care about your work. I don’t mean retweeting every tweet about your book, I mean actual conversations. Don’t get me wrong, retweeting is a great way to support your friends, but is your entire feed other people’s promotions? If your voice can’t even cut through the clutter on your own feed, then that’s a problem. Also, as humans, we have grown so accustomed to seeing ads everywhere all day that we naturally tune them out. “Cutting through the clutter” is literally an advertising term for making your ad (in this case yourself and your books) stand out, because in America alone its estimated that on average each person encounters approximately 5,000 ads a day.
    • How can you use social media effectively? Start by showcasing your own voice consistently. Post your thoughts, have conversations with your followers, tempt us with snippets from your book. In short, make people care about what you have to say. 
  6. Bloggers.
    • I’m sure that you’re tired of me yammering on about networking and calling it by a new name, but seriously this one is important because bloggers will give unbiased opinions on your book. If you do it correctly. That being said, a lot of book bloggers will post on their website whether or not they are open to unsolicited requests/ARCs. I know that it’s your book baby, and it’s hard to give it away for free, sending it on its way all alone to face the criticizing eyes of reviewers, but it has to stand on its own. You can tell the world that your book is amazing, and it might be, but why should they believe you? An unbiased opinion will give more credibility to your book baby, and their readers might be intrigued enough by the premise to go pick up a copy for themselves.
    • Also, on this note, do your research before contacting a book blogger. Every time someone calls me a novelist, I groan and roll my eyes, because I know that they didn’t take the time to read my profile. The stories that I tell are not my own, and I am proud and humbled that authors have trusted me to bring their books to life.
  7. Consider audiobooks.
    • As an audiobook narrator, I am of course partial to this medium, but it also opens up your book to an entire new spectrum of readers, including the people who *whispers* don’t read. Shocker! Those people do exist, which is sacrilegious, I know. *Glares at fiancé across the living room.*
    • Audiobooks open up your story as well, and the right narrator might even give it a new life that you hadn’t expected. The audiobook audience is loyal to authors and narrators alike, and once they find one that they like, they tend to go back for more.
    • Think you can’t afford to create an audiobook? Several production companies, the one I work for included, offer stipend programs for certain books to cover the costs of production in exchange for partial rights to the audio. They also might offer to buy the rights outright.
    • ACX, Audible’s contractor marketplace, also allows you to choose between paying the producer PFH (per finished hour) or via their Royalty Share program. ACX gives you more freedom when choosing your narrator, but many (not all) of their narrators work independently, and the quality can be hit or miss. If you choose to go this route, its important to address quality concerns during the audition process.

Don’t even get me started on branding, that would take an entire post on its own. Maybe two.

This was a long post and I’m exhausted. Honestly, I’m impressed if you made it this far. It’s about 2 am over here in Austin, so I’ll go back and edit in the morning. I know, you’re probably thinking “Whaaaat? It’s 2 in the morning on a Saturday night (Sunday morning?) and you’re writing a blog post?”

Yes. I just love you guys so much.

I hope you find this helpful, and feel free to ask any comments in the section below!

See you next week, friends!

6 Comments

  1. This is such a good post. I need to tweet it as soon as I’m at the computer (can’t do it nicely from the phone). Your post is very genuine and is really full of information. I’m not publishing a book but if I was I’d find it very helpful. Can you write something similar about promoting a blog? 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a great blog post, super helpful to those who are writing a book and want to get it out there! I’ve always thought about it but not taken that step yet, be sure to look back at this post though when I do. Thanks for sharing!

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

    Like

  3. Pingback: BLOG Marketing 101
  4. Pingback: November Wrap-Up

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