You've written a book. Now all you need to do is sit back and the public will rush to buy your novel.
It may be the best written book ever to appear in the annals of history — but, without an plan of how to market, it will never have a sale except by accident.
A friend of mine re-released an old book via Kindle. She did no advertising, no notification of its availability, nothing, nada. One month later she was notified of a sale. Yes, she was surprised and a little shocked since she'd almost forgotten it was up and available. She has since hawked, blogged, nagged and got the word out, her sales for this book has greatly increased. She was able to get word-of-mouth to help in her marketing of this release.
So, what steps are necessary to accomplish some marketing savvy?
- Professionally edited.
- Professional cover
- Plan a release date
- Pre-advertise the book
- Set up interviews on well-read blogs
- Do a giveaway
- Have a strategy in place
Let me expound on these steps one at a time.
Many first timers realize too late that this is a very necessary step. No matter how great you think your writing skills are, you still need to have the work professional reviewed … and not by your mom, teacher, or co-worker. It must be done by a professional editor, preferably one who is a writer and understands the concepts of the skill. Once this step is finished, you clean up your novel. My editor has removed full chapters and characters from my novels because they do not serve any purpose - in other words, they don't move the story forward.
There are book covers … and there are book covers. A member of a defunct writing group presented her new book cover to the group. To say it was horrendous is truly being polite. She was very up front with "I'm not an artist" and it showed. The characters were the next step up from stick figures. The story was YA but the cover screamed kindergarten. She was very proud of her work but to be totally honest, I don't believe it ever saw the light of day - this was back in the 1970s. At that point in time, I have no idea why she was even doing a book cover or presenting it unless she was going the vanity press route. I have done a few of my covers and been called on their amateur appearance. Do I feel that my book covers are the reason for the lack of sales? No. I haven't properly marketed my books and it is on the agenda this year. Still, there are books I skip over when looking for something to read. Why? For lack of an interesting or eye-catching cover. Yes, eye-appeal does help sell.
Plan a release date
Making sure you set a goal. A date to release your book will help you define your strategy. Sometimes there will be external issues that govern missing a date, but if you plan your schedule, and set a release date, more than likely, you will meet it. This is part of marketing. A schedule.
Pre-Advertise the book
Yes, you've set a date so start advertising. Create a hubbub and excitement about your new release. Send out flyers (newsletters) to your friends and if you've been tracking possible sales leads, to them also. Make sure you don't over extend this hype. I know a person on Facebook who posts what seems like 2 per hour about his book. As far as I'm concerned, when I see his email, it is spam and gets deleted. I'm not kidding, I received over 10-15 emails each day to buy his book. I unfriended him since all he posted via Twitter and Facebook was "buy my book" and that gets monotonous. Engage your readers, talk to them and hustle your book but I've been told the average should be like 10 tweets about stuff, 1 tweet about your book. For Facebook, share details about the book, about your adventure with maybe 5 or 6 posts like that and then 1 where you tell your friends about the new release date.
Set up interviews on blogs
Blogs can be your friends and also the death of you. If you get on the right blog, you will reach thousands. If you allow your friend to interview you on his/her blog can be nice but if he only has a few readers and even less hits, who is going to see your interview? I have a blog and a few followers which upset me but then I realized I was being viewed by over 200 people each day. THAT is advertising. Of course, another friend of mine has a blog which has 800 followers and also gets about 1100 hits per day. I always try to make sure I get her to interview me when I have a new book release. Also, when the day of the interview appears, make sure to visit it often to answer any questions that might be asked.
Do a giveaway
If you give away a copy of your new book to those who join your email list is a way to build your followers and increase your fan base. Goodreads will help you with a giveaway and it seems quite fair. Plus, if you do a blog as suggested above, you can offer to give away a copy of the book which the blogger can advertise for days and weeks before the event interview.
Have a strategy in place
By knowing what you plan to do as you get close to releasing your book, sales can be fantastic. If you let them know, they will come.
Now, let me say one thing which I have seen become a major "sales marketing ploy" that I feel is a waste of time.
My book will be FREE today... yada, yada, yada.
Sure, you offer your book for free and everyone and their cousins will download it. Why? Because it is free! At one time it was a great way to get your title up into the top 100 at Amazon. And your ranking would reflect that and stay that way after you went to a price. No longer. Amazon now treats the "free book" day(s) as a separate entity. If you were ranked at 531,986 before the "free day" and jumped to number 18 overall, and was number 1 or 2 in some sub-category — when it is over, you immediately drop back to that chasm of 531,986 very quickly. Sure, you gave away 900 copies of your book. You rode high on the excitement of being "up" there. But, what did you gain? You sold 900 books and made zilch. That could have been 900 sales at $.99 or made about $315.
Think about this before you decide to "market" your book for free. You spent hours, days, months, maybe even years agonizing over your baby. You spent money on a professional editor and having a great cover made. Isn't it worth the effort to earn some money? Market yourself. Market your book. Don't short-change yourself. If you must, read books on how to market yourself as an author. You deserve it.
Bob, you are so right. Marketing is essential if we are to be successful authors. It's not enough to write the book any longer, we must get it in the hands of readers. Great post!
Very important to promote your work properly - work doesn't sell itself. Wise words Bob.
Lisa M. Collins
Marketing is the hidden half of what authors do with their time. I wish it was all rainbows and ponies, writing and thinking, but alas that isn't so. This list is a handy guide to those starting out. Thanks, Bob!
I think only one in a thousand people actually read the free books they download. And of those who read the free book, they only leave a review if they hated the book. LOL
Good checklist, Bob. And I agree with your opinion on free books. I think the chances of someone reading a 99 cent book are exponentially higher than the chances of someone reading a free download.
I don't even know how to comment on this because I feel like I've done everything but spend $$$ advertising the heck out of my books. I've paid for edits, formatters, covers, etc, and I've marketed these books so much, joined so many boards and social media outlets actively and still my sales are just marginal. I'm not giving up, but this is not an easy sell.