Many new or aspiring authors seem to think that the goal is to get their book published. Once they succeed in doing this, they figure they have achieved the goal they had in mind and expect success to naturally follow.
The reality is that publishing your book is only half of an author’s battle. Unfortunately, unless you are an author with the clout of Steven King, your books are just not going to sell themselves.
Writers often have a strong aversion to the thought of being a salesperson, which is what they automatically think when they hear words like “marketing,” and “promotion.” It just feels unnatural to them and they run in the opposite direction.
The only trouble is that you might as well not bother publishing at all if you aren’t willing to invest either time or energy into promoting your book.
That being said, today we’re going to cover 7 steps to book marketing success. Use these tips as a guideline for your book, whether it has been published yet or not.
Step 1: Consider Your Options Carefully and Refuse to Take Shortcuts
With all the buzz surrounding self-publishing, it’s certainly a tempting route to take as a new author. However, consider this: it’s now as easy to publish a book as it is to publish a blog post. Literally.
While this sounds great at first, there is an uglier side to it as well.
It means that books are being published and made available for purchase when, quite frankly, they don’t come close to meeting the standards most expect when shopping for books.
Love it or hate it, traditional publishing has worked in a specific way for a reason, at the very least ensuring that the material which made it to the printed page was mostly free of mistakes and was readable.
So while you could, in theory, spend a week writing your book and then have it published and up for sale in less than a day, the question is should you just dive right in without looking?
If you don’t mind coming across as an amateur, that may be okay. However, if you’re serious about making your book a success then you may want to carefully research all of the things involved in publishing.
For example: ISBNs, cover art, blurbs, a website, a printing solution, and a promotion plan.
Step 2: Research Your Target Market
Just like with any product, it’s important to understand who you are writing your book for before you can effectively promote it. As a non-fiction author, publishing books becomes even more of a science and you will discover that it really doesn’t differ much from any other type of product creation in this sense.
Most importantly, figure out where your audience spends their time, both online and offline. If your readers spend lots of time on LinkedIn, then focus your efforts there. If they are more the Facebook crowd, do some research on how to promote your book using Facebook ads instead.
Step 3: Hone Your Networking Skills
Networking isn’t the same thing as marketing. In many ways, it’s much easier. This should be a piece of cake for anyone who considers themselves a “people person.
Basically, be aware of opportunities to promote by using your connections and making new ones.
Remember that your book is a product that is useful to others and use it as leverage by offering advance reading copies to the right people in exchange for exposure. Spend some time searching for high traffic blogs in your niche and make a list so you can approach these bloggers with an offer for an interview to promote your book. You can also offer to do a giveaway for their readers.
Step 4: Learn to Live and Breath Your Book
Your book is more than just a product. It’s an extension of you and who you are — and it acts as a concrete way for the world to judge your expertise. When you look at it this way, it’s much easier to take it seriously when it comes to marketing.
The last thing you should do is act as if publishing your book was just something you did on a whim. It is as big of a deal as you make it, so it is ultimately your choice.
This means going all out — create a website devoted to your book. Make sure to offer a sample chapter that readers can download and read before they decide to purchase. Add an opt-in form to build an email list as well.
It also means making separate social media accounts which should also be devoted to your book and to your author identity. Instead of just adding “author” to your email signature, forge an entirely new entity that will act as a brand.
Step 5: Become Acquainted With The Rules of Publicity
Effective book marketing goes beyond savvy networking and advertising. Smart authors make good use of any free publicity they can snag as well.
Similar to networking, this one requires some social skills but tends to be a bit more formal and has its own set of rules to play by.
Everything from press releases to radio interviews, publicity is great because it’s low or no cost and can have a huge impact on your visibility. It also typically extends from the online world into the real world, reaching people through different mediums who often wouldn’t learn about your book otherwise.
Find columnists for your local paper who cover topics related to your area of expertise and learn the art of pitching journalists with a little bit of research and practice.
Step 6: Prepare and Plan Your Book Launch
Once you’ve put in the time researching and lining up all of your promotional plans, it’s time to bring them all together and assign them dates.
By mapping out your book launch on a calendar, it gives you a clear idea of how each step will fit together and makes it easier to see what order is optimal for the types of promotion you’ve chosen.
In the previous five steps, we’ve figured out what we’re going to do in order to market our book and you can think of the sixth step as booking the dates for each method in our marketing plan.
Step 7: Know When to Call in the Pros
The final step is knowing when you can’t do something as well on your own as you could with professional help.
For some authors this may be cover artwork, for others it may be editing. There is a long list of publishing and marketing related skills that are needed to launch a successful book that is up to the industry’s standards.
As an author and a professional yourself, you already know that you can’t run a business on your own. No one expects authors to be experts in publishing, graphic design, ebook formatting, print on demand, editing or marketing.
The cost of a hands-free professional solution is often well worth the difference it makes in the success of your book and the perception of your brand.