Author marketing is kind of an oxymoron. After all, if you’re a good writer, chances are that you’re not a professional marketer. And in today’s publishing world, authors have to do their own book promotion. That creates quite a challenge.
With that in mind, here are five things authors should be doing to promote their books (and five things they shouldn’t be doing). Many of these ideas are courtesy of authors like yourself who are sharing thoughts and ideas on LinkedIn.
Author Marketing DOs
- Create your own website. Yes, it’s important for you to have your own author website. Whether that’s one you build yourself, or a site built through a company like ours, it’s essential that you have a site that houses all of your writings, has a place for you to blog, and gets your message across in words and colors that fit your brand. Social networking presences are great, but you don’t own them or control them. Your site is like your press kit, and it’s the first place agents, publishers and readers are going to go to learn about you.
- Choose your social media presences wisely. Do you write for a young adult audience? Or one for middle-aged professionals? Find the social networking tool that your audience uses most frequently (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc…) and focus your social networking attention there. There’s no need for you to be everything for everybody.
- Find your target audience. Be as hyper-focused as you can. If you wrote a sci-fi novel, for example, consider targeting sci-fi conventions and Star Trek fan sites. If you wrote a non-fiction book about relationships, try to get your book in the hands of marriage counselors. Think about who your readers are and where they are, and then try to reach them as directly as possible.
- Go local. You’d be surprised how many possibilities there are for promotion in your local area. Just a few of the ideas getting thrown around on LinkedIn include trying a book signing at your local library, doing a radio interview with the local station, shooting out an eye-catching brochure to high schools and community organizations, and guest speaking at community centers, churches, book stores, coffee shops and art galleries in your area.
- Get your book into the hands of reviewers. It sounds relatively obvious, but it doesn’t happen often enough. Do whatever you can to get your book into the hands of book bloggers/reviewers. Send out advance reader copies to them so they can review the book on Amazon, Goodreads, or their own personal blog. It’s also helpful to be hyper-targeted in these efforts as well: make sure you’re targeting reviewers who regularly write about books in your specific genre.
Author Marketing DON’Ts
- Spend all your time promoting. Your time is so important. Use it wisely! make sure to find the right balance between writing and marketing, and only use your marketing time on smart choices. For example, don’t spend four hours a day on social networking if your book is targeted to senior citizens. Similarly, there’s no need to try to speak at your local community center if your book is about a small town in another state. Find the right balance between writing and promotion.
- Run paid campaigns. As one write on LinkedIn says: “I tried both Facebook ads and Google Adwords. While both showed a high number of clicks, the conversion rate was disappointing to say the least. Not only that, but both services require some careful monitoring when you end your campaign.” I personally have found the same to be true. While those campaigns may get you a lot of clicks, they don’t necessarily lead to a lot of sales. And even if they do, the numbers generally don’t add up. If you were selling $100 purses, maybe. But a $5 book? Not so much.
- Write outside your comfort zone. Yes, you’re a writer. But you may not be a copywriter. Or a writer of press releases. Each of those require their own skillsets. So write what you’re comfortable with, and outsource other things.
- Give up easily. Too many authors that I’ve worked with start doing something — like blogging — and then give up a month later when they don’t feel like they’re getting enough visitors. Remember: all of these efforts take time. And while I’m not a fan of beating a dead horse, you need to give any effort a few months before determining if it’s working or not.
- Sell your soul! Here’s another great quote from a LinkedIn conversation: “Spending all of your time marketing instead of writing is not in the disposition of a true writer whose passion is to write.” At the end of the day, you’re a writer at heart. Stay true to that part of yourself. Think of writing as your passion and marketing as your job. Never let your job take over your life.
Do you have specific marketing ideas — or marketing fails — that you want to share with other writers? Tell us in the comments box below!