Firstly, writers write, and marketers market. So just because you’ve written a book, that doesn’t mean you know how to sell it too.
So starting at the beginning let me explain one fundamental concept: the difference between marketing and promotion. This is important because, when most authors talk about ‘marketing’ their book, they probably mean ‘promoting’ it which isn’t necessarily the same thing. That would more than likely be ‘advertising’.
Book marketing is the process of creating a repeatable system that produces a defined set of goals. This might be a book sale, but it might also be a sign-up for a newsletter or even a simple visit to a web page. The key word here is ‘repeatable’.
Good examples of marketing would be to create useful content such as social media alerts, blog posts, newsletters, free resources, e-books and YouTube videos. All the things that people who might buy your books would find useful.
This system is repeatable because potential readers / buyers of your book find your content and then sign up for your newsletter. Your marketing is not trying to get people to buy a book but simply to get people on your mailing list. That’s a definable goal. Once you have someone’s email address, you can send them high-quality content.
The more free content you provide, the more people will sign up to your newsletter and so on. This is a long-term system designed to find people who might, one day, be ready to buy.
However, as an author you also want book sales and you might feel that the marketing process is often too long and complicated to be worth your while. You need a different (or additional) approach, and this is called book promotion.
Book promotion is the process of convincing someone to buy your product (book). Promotion is a one-off hit, designed to drive people to a sales page with the sole aim of them clicking that Buy Now button.
An example might be a writer who has written three children’s books, one set around Christmas, one about a foreign holiday and one set in the summer. They might decide in the month leading up to Christmas to offer the ‘Christmas’ book for free or at a reduced discount, say 50% off.
The writer then goes onto Facebook, Twitter, you name it, to tell everyone that he/she is offering a great one-time only deal. This is promotion. The author wants people to click a link, go to the Amazon page / website etc. and buy.
Then, you would hope, the buyer reads and enjoys the ‘Christmas’ story so much that they return to buy the ‘summer adventure’ too.
The key with promotion is not only the deal but the number of people you can reach with your book promotion activities. This is a numbers game. The more people you can reach, the more clicks you’ll get and the more people will buy.
‘Ever wondered what it would be like to cycle the length of the UK?’
Well now you can, and from the safety of your own armchair. Welsh writer (and keen cyclist) Dave Lewis has just published a short diary of his exploits doing just that. In 2005 he and a friend cycled from Land’s End to John o’ Groats having planned the trip on the back of a beer mat one drunken night. To download a copy of this hilarious e-book for just £2.99 click here.
And if you liked this story then why not find out more about his latest venture – Wales Trails.
Book promotion might be targeted (people who follow you on Facebook or Twitter, who know you write), but it will also be crude. A better way to ‘promote’ is to get someone with more influence than you to talk about / promote your book. Why waste time blowing your own trumpet when someone else will do it for you?
- Reviews are essential – the better the review, the more well respected the reviewer, the greater number of reviews…
- Divide your time between promotion (10%) and finding people or marketing (90%)
- Website, blog, social media
- Features in local and national media (newspaper, TV and radio)
The key to successfully approaching the media is to give them a specific reason why they should feature you and your book. Look to make the decision as easy as possible for them. The less work they need to do, the more chance you have of getting promoted.
Other ways to market, promote and sell your product:
- Giveaways in return for reviews
- Join a local writing group / library reading group (to meet people with similar interests)
- Craft fairs / book fairs (book a table)
- Various online book promotion companies, e.g. BookBub, Awesome Gang etc. although paid promotions can be very expensive so beware!
- Check out our useful tools
The bottom line? Being a writer is great but it’s hard work! Trust me, I know.