by Penny Sansevieri
When someone mentions book author marketing strategies, it sounds complicated and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, some of the best things you can do to boost book sales are free! For the new year, work smarter, not harder. Let’s look at 15 Smart Author Marketing Strategies you can use for 2024!
Mentioning failure in a “smart strategies” article doesn’t seem to start off on the right foot, but this is key! Failure is the best learning experience we can give to ourselves! When you launch a book and do “all the right things” and the book is not resonating with readers—you need to ask why? Are you in the right genre? How does your cover look compared to other books in that genre? Can your description be stronger?
“Failing fast” doesn’t mean give up, find out what’s wrong and create improvements! Our failures help repave our journey for the better!
Put learning on your monthly to-do list! Attend writer conferences, join virtual sessions (or if an in-person event isn’t your thing) find some books on book marketing! Not everything you hear or read will be helpful, but pick and choose what strategies to implement and get to work on actually using them!
The most successful people in the world read a lot of books—some in fact read up to 60 books a year! Sixty books isn’t the magical number for having all the answers, but reading is a great way to learn!
Good covers are an investment in your future, and nothing says, “I’m not a serious author,” like a cover that’s lacking in all of the elements your genre demands. A good book cover is vital to marketing, but we don’t often address the importance of knowing when your book cover needs a redo, a polish, or a fresh brand alignment.
When was the last time you looked at the bestseller list in your genre? If your cover doesn’t look like it belongs on the shelf beside the other books on the bestseller list, then you have a problem.
It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at marketing, if your cover doesn’t live up to the expectations of the genre, your marketing is never going to pay off.
I’m amazed at how many authors I’ve spoken to over the years who don’t read in their genre and are clueless to their reader’s specific needs. Reading in your genre is another key strategy! Why? Because it helps you to learn about how topics are addressed, what readers want, as well as the current popular tropes (if you’re writing fiction!)
If you aren’t clear on the specific needs and nuances of your reader, you are almost assured failure. Much like your book cover, no amount of marketing dollars can fix a book that wasn’t written with the needs of the reader in mind.
Successful authors don’t sell a book–they sell what the book can do for the reader.
Authors try to sell their book with a book description that’s about them. They should be making a book description that’s about the reader and pushing that emotional state. What’s an emotional state? As readers, we don’t buy books, we buy what the book can do for us! Whether that’s to help us escape reality for a bit, learn, grow, whatever it is! That should be what you market…sell a feeling, not a book.
Also, understanding what drives your reader to buy is key here—so know their ID! What’s an ID? It’s the thing that drives us to buy anything! For example, Hallmark movie creators know that, at the most basic level, their viewers like HEA (happily ever after,) so all their movies have that component.
To go deeper, the movie creators also know that viewers have particular IDs: royal romances, fake boyfriends, enemies to lovers, etc.
If you’ve written non-fiction, your readers IDs will be different. Do they want to start a business, lose weight, or learn a new skill? That’s an ID. It’s also about being even more specific. If they are a beginner in any of these topics, they want something that’s easy to adopt. That’s an ID! If you’ve written something that’s slanted to the beginner—make mention of that early in your book description, or ideally in your title or subtitle.
Knowing your reader’s ID and pushing an emotional state will drive a reader to buy! These emotional components will also change how you view everything you’re doing, from spending time on social media to releasing your next book.
Everything is your brand. But I can appreciate that the term “brand” is confusing to authors.
Brand Identity: this is your “look.” The colors on your website, fonts, logos—all of it is a part of your brand identity. Brand identity is the “visual” piece and it’s the thing that ties everything together. Nothing will deter a reader faster than a messy and unfocused brand!
Whether you like it or not, your brand is talking about you right now. Do you like what it’s saying?
Everything you put out there is your brand and you need to take some time to focus on the needs of your readers and their IDs. You may decide that 2024 is a good time to revamp everything you’re putting out into the world to create a more consistent look, message and feel.
They say to “write what you love” and to some degree, that’s absolutely true. The issue with “write what you love” is that this might mean writing romance one week and a kids book the next. What I’m speaking of here is true lane-jumping. I’m not trying to discourage you if you want to write across multiple genres, but it’s not a strategic way to grow your author brand.
Each time you cross genres, it’s like starting from scratch. Why? Because readers don’t always crossover. If you love reading crime thrillers, you probably won’t pick up a paranormal romance, even if it’s written by the same author. Sometimes there are crossover elements. For example, if an author who writes thrillers decides to dabble in true crime, readers are more than likely to “crossover” because both are pretty tightly connected.
Grow your base in one genre and then branch off after you feel you’ve exhausted your stories there.
I can promise you that this never works in your favor. Believe it or not, books age and as they do it becomes harder to get reviews and any kind of momentum for it.
A lot of authors think they should wait to market their first book, especially if they’re writing a series. They say: “Oh, I’ll wait to market book one when book two is out.” I love the idea of authors writing multiple books, but don’t wait to market one book in anticipation of another.
An aged book is hard to recover from…market now!
Social media does not sell books—impressions do! You want to be strategic about how you spend your time on social media. So, running ads on Facebook for the sake of running ads, is not strategic. Tap into the needs of your readers, this will help you to strategize content.
Have you considered that you’re on the wrong social media platform? Where are your readers? Success leaves clues and successful authors know where their market is…go find your readers! A good way to figure out where your readers are is by following authors in your genre and see where they pop up more frequently.
Being somewhere that matters is more important than being everywhere.
In 2023, Amazon launched video ads (as of this writing, not everyone has access to this yet!) If you haven’t dug into Amazon ads yet, now is a great time to do so! Ads are also a great way to boost your overall Amazon algorithm without having to spend a lot of money.
Start networking with authors in your genre, also consider their “brand” as well, does it line up with yours? Will their readers also follow you? Follow said authors on social media, like their posts, comment on their blog, build relationships! Contribute to their success too! After you’ve spent some time networking, offer up the idea of collaboration! Collaboration ideas can include: a newsletter swap, a social media takeover, sharing each other’s eBook promotions or other book discounts!
Newsletters are a great way to speak directly to your readers and keep them in your loop! You can use a newsletter to announce new books, giveaways and push fun reader contests!
Starting a newsletter can be intimidating, but do it anyways, even if you feel like you have nothing interesting to say! We did a podcast on this, too! If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a link in the resources section!
Do not price your book out of the market. Of course, we want to make lots of money from our books—who doesn’t?! Most books that are priced out of market, may sell one copy, but not more. The idea behind this is that if they price their book high enough, they don’t have to sell that many to recoup their investment. Pricing books competitively doesn’t mean pricing them lower, either. Price your book appropriately!
Amazon ads aren’t converting? Facebook ads sending readers to your page, but no sales? Trying giving your book page a polish! Over the holiday break, spend time cleaning up your book page—you’ll be surprised by the results! Things to focus on include: your bio, keywords, a video, updating your book description. Most of all, make sure your book description is scannable with lots of white space, bolding, bullets (when appropriate) and lead in with a great review or review snippet!
What’s right for your audience: paperback, hardback, eBook, large print, or audiobook? Don’t leave money on the table by neglecting various editions of your book! Various book editions can help to expand your audience and sell more books! You might be missing a readership that needs a large print book edition, and let’s not forget about the enormous audiobook market right now! Always look to the bestseller lists in your genre and see what other authors are doing!
I hope this list has sparked some ideas of things that you could dig into in the new year, or maybe helped to give a lagging book some new energy and direction. Sometimes it just takes a small shift to ignite your success, and sometimes it’s a combination of a few things, done over time.
I wish you much success in 2024 and beyond!
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.
She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.
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