Book Marketing 101
I talk a lot about marketing on this site, from mailing lists and optimization to on- and offline techniques to mastering the Kindle Store. That's because book marketing is an essential aspect of any author’s business. Even traditionally published authors have to know how to sell their books to audiences, or they won't make any royalties. As a self-published writer, it's vital that you know how to get your book from your computer screen into the hands of eager readers.
How does it work? Marketing a book is a completely different craft than writing one. You have to learn a new skill set, and it will involve stepping outside of your comfort zone and into the wild unknown. You have to know how to find your readers and where they like to hang out. Then you'll need to get creative and find ways to connect with them over your book without pressurized overselling. Then you need to be able to close the sale. If marketing is a completely different world than what you're used to, this probably sounds intimidating. Fortunately, book marketing is not insurmountable. When you have a functioning system in place, you can keep it running largely on autopilot while you focus on your stories.
Before we take our first steps into this adventurous new world, please remember that there is no one-size-fits-all with book marketing. The tactics that work for me might not work for you. You need to delegate your time in a way that allows you to continue writing. I know one romance writer who spends 80% of her time writing her books and only 20% marketing, and she can make a full-time income based on that. I know another who does just the opposite. The best thing you can do is look around and see what techniques are working for other writers in your genre and learn how to imitate them in a way that won’t drive you completely up the wall.
The first thing you need is your book. That should be obvious, and hopefully a relatively simple step for you. One thing many writers consider at this point is writing a prequel or spin-off novella, or maybe a short story, as an easy treat to give out to curious readers without pressuring anyone to buy anything. This is called the reader magnet trick, and it's increasingly popular among today's writers and readers. Your reader magnet does not have to be long, but it should be good and a quality sample of your writing. If you find yourself stuck for ideas when coming up with the reader magnet, you can also consider giving away the first chapter of your book. Either way, giving away something for free makes readers feel much more comfortable with you and much more willing to buy your book.
Next, you need to find your readers and connect with them. I'm not talking about selling just yet. Find some groups online that like your genre or things related to it. Network. Listen to podcasts. Strike up conversations with people who like the same things you do and who might be interested in your book. When you have the opportunity, you can bring up your free giveaway or reader magnet or pin it to the top of a social media page. Your focus here should be to get people to sign up on to your email list. The more people you can get excited about your books and what you have to offer, the better. Even if you just link to a landing page where people can get your book for signing up, you're going to be building an audience of future buyers who will be willing to spend money further down the road.
Now we get to the actual selling part. I promise, this is going to be painless. The truth is, you don't need to harass anyone about buying your book or flash it in front of anyone's face while begging them to purchase (pretty please). Whenever you have a new release or a sale, you can simply write to your email list about it and let them know what's up. All these people have already read books from you and will be excited to hear what you have out now. They already consider themselves fans and part of your audience. To them, learning about a new release is actually a treat, not a chore or obligation.
There are other techniques to sell books. Knowing how to optimize your Amazon page is a powerful part of landing sales without even networking, and knowing how to partner effectively with other writers can also be a serious growth tool.
How do you sell books? Have you found a technique that works? If you have other book marketing tips, please share them in the comments below.