There has never been a more exciting time to be an author. With the internet and technologies that make it easier for authors to bypass the gatekeepers associated with traditional publishing, authors have an unprecedented opportunity share their work with the world. However, with this opportunity comes the challenge of creating a book marketing strategy so that your book can stand out from the crowd and be visible enough to gain the attention of readers. And this is where many authors struggle.
Why you should care about book marketing
As an author you will most likely have to market your own work. Even when you have a traditional publishing deal, the publishing company may not do as much as you would expect them to do, thus shifting a significant part of the marketing work to you. And if you're like most authors you don't want to have much to do with marketing; you would rather spend your time writing. But you need to realise that an average book with great marketing will create more impact with readers and generate more profits for the author than a great book with poor marketing. It is therefore important to accept marketing as one of the very important aspects of your work as an author.An average book with great marketing will create more impact and generate more income than a great book with poor marketing. Click To Tweet
Book marketing is not a one-time activity
When you understand marketing as the profitable adventure that it is, you will be excited to commit time and resources to it. But before then you need to settle the fact that book marketing is not a magic wand that will suddenly turn your fortunes around. You will have some quick wins but the real juice comes from long term commitment which starts before writing your book and continues long after the book is published.
My goal in this series is to demystify the process of book marketing with actionable tips that clearly show what you need to do. We'll start by laying a foundation for the kind of long term thinking required to succeed in your book marketing efforts. One of the first things you need to do in this regard is to build a platform that will enhance your visibility and help you connect with readers.Every author needs a platform to enhance visibility and connect with readers. Click To Tweet
Your book marketing platform
If you have read the Sermon on the Mount which is reputed to be Jesus' most popular teaching you would remember that when Jesus saw the multitude he went up a mountain and sat down. Then his disciples came to him and he taught them. The mountain was his platform and the disciples were his primary audience. As an author you're not writing for everyone. Your work can potentially benefit everyone but everyone will not receive your work. You should cultivate a tribe of disciples who really resonate with your style and ideals. Then you need to build a platform to connect with these people.
While you should certainly take advantage of offline opportunities (we'll discuss this in another post) you would do well to invest in an online platform that allows you to reach more people and sell more books without the limitations of geography and time. Your online platform will include three major components: a website, an email list and social media platforms.
Your website will serve as the hub of your book marketing efforts. See it like your online home where readers can get to know more about you and your work. With your personal website you can create sales pages and an online store. That way you can sell books directly and earn as much as 97 percent profit or even 100 percent if you receive payments by bank transfer instead of using a payment processor.
Important pages to have on your author website include home page, about page, book pages, contact page, email subscription page and blog page. Some authors choose not to blog but blogging offers an opportunity to increase your impact, boost your visibility and establish yourself as an authority in your area of interest. In addition to the aforementioned you could also have pages for resources, events and media kit.
There are many ways to build a website but the one I recommend is self-hosted WordPress. That's what we use on the Panacea blog. WordPress is great because of the flexibility it affords and the amazing community that supports its development. You can do lots of stuff like social media integration, setting up subscription page and even creating an online store without having to write code.
By building an email list you can reach out to readers when you have important information such as a newly published book, a speaking engagement or an event you would like them to know about. You also get to build rapport with your readers by sharing valuable content with them on a regular basis. You can set up an email list with email marketing services like Mailchimp, Aweber, MailerLite, Get Response and several others. Mailchimp is beginner friendly and their free plan allows you to have up to 2000 subscribers for free.
Once you have created your email list, provide multiple opportunities on your website for readers to sign up or join the list. You can integrate sign up forms into the header and side bar areas of your website. You should also consider including a call to action with your subscription form at the end of every blog post. Pop ups can be effective too when used with discretion.Build rapport with your readers by sharing valuable content with them consistently. Click To Tweet
After getting people to join your mailing list it is important that you keep the relationship warm. You do this by regularly communicating with your subscribers in a way that is meaningful and valuable to them. Send them three kind of messages: pure content or highly valuable information, personal updates or insights into your life and sales letters or messages inviting them to buy your books and related products/services.
A general rule here is to make sure that your giving far exceeds your asking and remember to put the focus on your readers, not on yourself.
If your website is your online home then each of your social media platforms is like an annex or a road that leads to your home. On your social media platforms you can share snippets from your blog posts and excerpts from your blog. You can sustain meaningful conversations and engage your readers in many interesting ways. For example while working on a book you can share samples of proposed book covers with them and ask them to help you choose one. You could even ask them to help you test titles and subtitles. You can create contests and do other stuff to generate word of mouth advertisement for your books.
One of the reasons many authors don't take advantage of social media is because it can be overwhelming. To guard against this don't go at it all at once. Start with one or two platforms that you have capacity to handle and grow from there. Another good idea is to automate everything that can be automated. However you must do this in a smart way that doesn't make your readers feel like they're dealing with a robot.
For example, we automatically share posts from our blog to our social media platforms. So we try to ensure that these posts are evergreen so that they will continue to make sense regardless of when people get to read them.
Ultimately, the goal of building an author platform is to get readers to connect with you meaningfully in such a way that causes them to know you, like you and trust you. Studies have proven that buying decisions are more emotional than rational. We only use reason to justify our action after the fact. The same principle holds true when readers are purchasing books.Adopt a relational approach to book marketing. Consistently communicate with readers through multiple channels. Click To Tweet
This is why you should adopt a relational approach to book marketing by consistently communicating with readers through multiple channels. It certainly involves quite a bit of work but it's not as difficult as it may seem and in the long run the result is well worth the effort. However if you would rather outsource the process to a team of professionals so that you can focus on writing, talk to us. We'll be happy to help.