If you’re an author who just wants to write, you’re not alone. I talk to authors every day who hate the idea of marketing and are not even sure where to begin. I definitely can understand. Marketing is always changing, and it isn’t easy, especially if you still have a full time job and want to focus on writing your next book. However, if you don’t market your existing title(s), no one will ever know what you have written.
Realistically, you can’t just upload your book to Amazon and expect the sales to roll in. That’s not a marketing plan. And, contrary to what your mom, family and friends may think, or perhaps what you’ve been told in your writers group: your book is not the field of dreams. Remember – “If you build it, they will come?” That’s simply not the case with books. The mere act of publishing one won’t bring droves of people beating a path to your door. So, what can you actually do to drive sales? Fortunately for you, it’s deceptively simple! Probably simpler than you thought.
Here are four easy things you can do to give your book it’s best possible start:
1. Start building your fan base
Fans, and Super Fans in particular, will really help you to market your book. Start engaging with people who already like your book; they often help drive sales. Just think for a moment how awesome that is. So how do you build this fan base? One thing I am always saying is that every author should include a letter in the back of every book. Craft something engaging and inviting; you want to encourage readers to contact you. A loyal base is worth its weight in gold, and if you really want to spend as little time as possible marketing your book(s), then it’s critical to invest in the fans that find you organically. If you want to dig into this further, I wrote a more in depth article -- “How to Turn A Freebie Lover into a Super Fan.”
2. Pitch Reviewers
Pitching reviewers can seem tedious, I know. But, if you can commit to pitching five bloggers each week, it will add up fast! I think the biggest thing here is to be consistent. You should always be pitching your book to bloggers, readers, Amazon reviewers, etc. Not sure how to find them.
Check out these links for bloggers you can pitch:
3. Start Building UP Your Amazon Visibility
On my own blog, I talk about optimizing your presence on Amazon a lot. In fact, I’m such a fan of this that I wrote a book about it. Why? Because, it works! Amazon can really help you market your book, but to make the most of it, your keyword strings and categories must be on point. Replace all of your single keywords with actual keyword strings. If you want to dig deeper here, I have more articles on how you can find keywords.
4. Post on Your Blog & Social Media
Unless you got your start by writing a blog, this is a turn off for most authors. Many of you have already started writing your next book or at least have an idea of it in your head. So you’re concerned that blogging and spending time on social media it will take away from your writing time.
Maybe a little, but don’t overthink this. Blog posts don’t have to be long, and in fact some of the best posts aren’t. But they should be interesting, insightful, even funny if being humorous is your thing. How often do I want you to blog? Once a week or so, which is manageable, right?.
And, in terms of social media, keep in mind that it’s not about being everywhere, but everywhere that matters. If you only have time for one site, then do just one site. Post one piece of content a day, that’s it. It literally takes less than 5 minutes, and it’s free. So spend those five minutes every day engaging with your fans and networking.
Whether you choose all of these things, or even just choose one, be consistent. One blog post every once in a while, one social media update, or one pitch to a blogger will not move the needle but done consistently this will have an effect on your success. All of these things are easy to work into a schedule and some (like the Amazon keywords) only have to be done once, or a couple times a year if you’re in a popular genre. If you wrote a book, you owe it to yourself and your book to do even a few small things to get the word out.
Whatever you do, don’t just throw up your hands and walk away. I see it a lot, but know that your book has so much potential.
When I was first in business I hated a lot about what I was required to do. Taxes and accounting are a great example of that. I did this myself for a while and it wasn’t pretty but I did it and it got me through. When I finally had the means to I outsourced this. I’m glad I didn’t walk away from my business just because I sort of suck at math. Why am I telling you this story? Well, to emphasize the fact that we all have pieces we hate to do but if this journey and your book are important to you, you’ll make time to do them or learn how.
You only fail if you fail to try!
Okay, Writers in the Storm readers, what non-marketing tips do you have to share with us?
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:email@example.com
Copyright @2016 Penny C. Sansevieri
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I've always struggled with categories and key words. Can you give some examples?
I've given Penny a heads up to swing by and answer, so stay tuned!!
Terry - so categories really vary depending on the genre you've got. For example, I've used "direct marketing" under the marketing category on Amazon (under eBooks) and it's worked for my books. What you want to do is find a narrow category, and I recommend you do that under their eBooks, because you'll get a much better set of results. So, step by step:
Go to the Kindle store on Amazon and click eBooks -
Then on the left, find your category and click on that, this will give you a drop down of more categories - and you can keep locating them from there. a
Sorry for the delay in posting this, I was telling Jenny I'm on the road speaking at a tech conference in Vegas and the wifi is not great. I had posted this before so if you got it twice, I apologize 🙂
Terry, I was going to ask about that as well. I'm not even sure where you input categories and key words on Amazon and whether you can do that if you're not indie published.
Let me know if that response was helpful! (responded above!)
Penny, terrific, useful advice. Thanks!
I've used keywords, but they don't always "take." When I go to search for them a week later, my book doesn't show up.
Well ok, so where are you using these keywords? And how many other titles are competing for those keywords? If you have a ton of competition, that may be why your book isn't showing up. Ideally you want to find keywords with low results, so not a ton of books BUT good sales rank on the books.
Hope that helps!
Penny, as always, you've given really sound advice here! The only non-marketing thing I can think to add is to join authors' groups--there are lots of them out there--because when authors support each other, you're automatically multiplying your fan base every time you share a blog post you've written or a bit of book news. It's also wonderful to have friends in this business, too, because it is such a crazy ride.
I was going to say the same thing, Holly. 🙂
Writers groups are golden in so many ways -- sharing knowledge and experiences, marketing support, sanity support!!!!!
I absolutely agree!!
Yes this is a great idea, I love author's groups - are you a member of IBPA by any chance? Great org, super supportive and their conference is awesome - and of course RWA which I love!! Lots of great ones, I don't mean to exclude any!
Penny, interesting article. I bookmarked your website. BTW, you have a dead link on your site. The one for your three book offer does not redirect to shopping cart or Amazon. FYI.
Thanks so much for coming back to share that, Wendy!
Wendy you rock, it's been fixed thanks to your eagle eye spotting it. Email me directly and I'll get you my ebooks for free as a thank you 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, Penny. You've given some great advice to slide writers into ... marketing. Because, really, these are the first steps to marketing anyway. Hopefully, with the way you approached it, writers will find the process fairly comfortable. I tell my clients that each step is, in essence, just like telling a story--to blog readers, pitch reviewers and on social media--a story of their own journey in writing. Approached as a story, writers just might find marketing less work and more enjoyable.
Thank you Penny. Great post. I really liked this, especially since I've ran my own business and get it 🙂 " I did this myself for a while and it wasn’t pretty but I did it and it got me through. When I finally had the means to I outsourced this. I’m glad I didn’t walk away from my business just because I sort of suck at math. Why am I telling you this story? Well, to emphasize the fact that we all have pieces we hate to do but if this journey and your book are important to you, you’ll make time to do them or learn how."
A while back, an agent at a conference said, "Do what you're good at, do what you love doing, and hire out the rest."
I completely agree with that. As soon as you can, hire it out 🙂
YES, that's a great quote. Don't try to be the master of all ----
Great advice. I'd add, if you don't know how to do it, ask someone who does to show you how.
Or go to YouTube. I learn how to do TONS of stuff on YouTube. 🙂
I'd add to take the time every week to network and make new author friends.
Yes even just ONE outreach a week would be fabulous!
Always remember..."Your book needs you!"
I LOVE THAT quote - yes your book does need you 🙂
Thank you for being inspiring and instilling hope in an area I am a dud at. I, like several other commenters, would appreciate some helpful tips on key words. I immediately subscribed to your newsletter.
Thank you, I hope you enjoy it 🙂
I've tried phrases like "family drama," "faith, hope, & love." I change the key words from time to time, but I'm not sure whether the strategy has been effective or not. For the most part, I feel "invisible" on Amazon--a little fish in a big, big sea. 🙂
I know it, it's rough --- the thing is, figure out what problem your book solves and then start to research that on Amazon. Think of things like search terms that your consumer would search. Are they really searching on "family drama"? They might be, but I'm not sure that's true. Just double check, I know it's tedious (believe me, I know, I do these all the time 🙂 but it's worth it!