Book marketing for the faint-hearted.

Book Marketing – a word avoided and even feared by many writers.

Most of us are shy retiring types to whom blowing our own trumpet is akin to running down the main street stark naked.

So book marketing for the faint-hearted (that's you) is more important now than ever.

Even if you’re published by a legacy publisher, there’s a limit to how much marketing they will do for you, especially if you’re a new author.

Book Marketing Strategies

There are so many books in the marketplace competing for readers’ attention that you have to work hard to make sure your book is noticed.

There are three facets of book marketing for the faint-hearted that are vital:

  • Start well before publication date.  Six months minimum, twelve is better. It takes time to find and come to the attention of your target market – ie people who enjoy the genre you write in and are potential buyers.
  • Have an online presence – website, blog, social media, writers forums, book reviews, guest post on blogs.There are endless ways but the first three are the basics. If you don’t have a website and blog, and do at least some basic social media, you’re behind the eight ball before you start.
  • Connect with other writers and readers by means of the above tools – post regular blogs and invite comments, start an email sign up list to your blog by offering a free product, eg a short e-book on a topic of interest to your readers, post regularly on social media, contribute to writers forums, write reviews of books.

Connecting is the secret to effective marketing.  

Doing the hard sell will alienate people and if you’re only connecting with them to sell your book they’ll soon realise it and turn off.

Being genuine is important.

Besides, connecting with other writers is fun and helpful.

Exchanging ideas, tips and the ups and downs of the creative life will not only improve your writing but give you support and motivation.

And we all need plenty of that.

Not all readers are writers but most writers are avid readers, and sooner or later you’ll find and connect with those who’ll be interested in buying your book.

How am I going to find time to do all this and write?’ I hear you wail.

By taking it slowly so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

In the next section of book marketing for the faint-hearted (Part 2) I’ll share more tips for your marketing plan.

Book Marketing For The Faint-Hearted Part 2

Recall my start-up marketing plan, which is based on the three principles listed above.

This is what happens when you try to do it all:

Book Marketing For The Faint Hearted Exploding Head

Pre-Release Activities

  • Start as early as possible, even before you begin your novel. This gives you plenty of time to immerse yourself slowly into marketing waters and build up your confidence and expertise.
  • Start simple. If you try to do it all, it will become too overwhelming and you’ll give up, or end up a blubbering wreck curled up in the foetal position watching re-runs of The Price is Right.
  • The plan has to be easy enough for you to incorporate into your daily routine. And simple enough that you can change it or move the goalposts. Because you will.

Don’t succumb to information overload, particularly when it comes to social media.  

There’s always a marketing guru telling you that Snapchat or Linkedin (or whichever form of social media you've just joined) are no longer cool.

They will try to sell you on the latest trend, which will then become dead in 6 months.  

Choose a couple – 3 at the most – of social media platforms that you can stick with and ignore the others.  

Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are among the most popular and effective for authors.

Here’s the marketing plan I initially put up on the wall in front of my desk.

  1. 1 blog post per week.
  2. At least 1 tweet per day.
  3. Follow 3 new writers/people in writing industry on Twitter per week
  4. Contribute to 2 authors forums
  5. 2 Facebook posts per week

I devised this plan from a number of publications I’d read about marketing for authors.

But although on the surface it looks fairly basic, I found it too demanding to fit around my writing time and other commitments.

So then I put up my revised marketing plan.

Revised Book Marketing Plan

  • 1 blog post per month. I believe in quality over quantity and would rather post something of value that I’ve had time to think about, write and edit, than something I’ve dashed off hastily for the sake of putting something up. I admire writers who can blog daily, or even twice weekly, but I’m not one of them. Accept your limitations and don’t feel inadequate because of them.
  • My 1 tweet per day is more like 1 tweet every second day. When I first signed up to Twitter, I wondered what on earth I would find to tweet about. But I’ve discovered that you don’t have to come up with witty and brilliant insights on a regular basis, if at all. You can simply tweet a link to a blog post, article or website you’ve found useful. When you Twitter regularly it doesn’t take long to attract followers. And this is the point of it – to create a network of people with similar interests so you can help each other.
  • I follow as many new writers on Twitter as I want. I’m not putting a number on it or a time. Sometimes it will be 2 in a week, some weeks none. I look carefully at a person or organisation’s profile before I follow them to make sure they are writing/publishing in genres I’m interested in, otherwise I’ll get little value from it. And I don’t have time to read hundreds of Tweets per week.
  • Contribute to 1 authors forum. The idea of joining an authors forum is to connect with other writers for support and information and you can also put samples of your work up for critique. It’s more informal and friendly than many forms of social media and a by-product is that you’re extending your network of potential buyers of your book. Being an Aussie, I’ve joined the Australian Writers Forum. It’s an excellent forum, with a great bunch of friendly, helpful members and I’m trying to organise myself to spend more time there.
  • One Facebook post per week. Don’t make the mistake of putting the same content on Facebook as you do for Twitter. I use Facebook for more personal, chatty posts where I talk about a workshop or event I’ve enjoyed, a blog post I’ve found useful or any other aspect of writing that I think is worth sharing. Keep it short, a paragraph or two is enough.

So you can see that I’ve had to move the goalposts and at times I still don’t meet my weekly goals.

But I don’t stress over it.

The most important thing you do as a writer is write and if I’m short of time and I have to toss up between writing and marketing, I’ll choose the writing.

So let's move onto some more detailed work.

Book Marketing For The Faint-Hearted Part 3

You’ve done it. Your e-book is published and out there in literary cyberspace.

And of course everyone will spot it immediately and snap it up, you’ll earn a legion of devoted fans and make a truckload of money.

And it goes without saying it will be a best seller.

Book Marketing For The Faint Hearted Gorilla

Stop! Wake up!  It’s a dream, every writer’s secret dream when they publish an e-book, and it could happen, but not so easily.

There are millions of new e-books published every year – how is yours going to stand out from the rest?

The Plan For Self Published Authors

It’s depressing when you think of it like that, so use my classic technique in dealing with bad news – avoidance.

Don’t think of it.

Instead, consider it from this angle – many of the authors of these new books don’t do any marketing for a variety of reasons:

  • Their book was a labour of love, they’re enjoying the sense of achievement and making a lot of sales is a secondary consideration.
  • They don’t like the idea of marketing and it’s all too hard, so they don’t bother.
  • They genuinely don’t think it’s necessary and that somehow by a process of psychic transference readers will find and buy their book.

Here’s the good news: If you pull out all the stops, do as much marketing in as many different arenas as you can, there’s a good chance that sooner or later, readers will find your book.

Here are some suggestions for promotion – these are all methods I’m currently using:

My Current Marketing Methods

  • Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. When you publish your book on Amazon you have the option of placing it in the KDP Select program for a 90 day period. Amazon promotes your book for you and you also have the option of offering it for free for 5 days out of that 90 day period. Make maximum use of the free download period by getting the word out through social media, blogs and reader’s sites that post daily lists of free e-books. There’s an abundance of such sites – here’s some of them listed on Galley Cat to start you off.
  • Create a book trailer. This is something that requires some technical know-how and if you don’t have it, it could be expensive to pay someone to do it. Being a total non-geek myself, I’m lucky to have a partner who has some skill in this area. He created a book trailer for me for my book How Not To Commit Murder. Place your trailer on your website, on YouTube, on your author page at Amazon, your Facebook page and everywhere else you can think of.
  • Media releases for online and print media. This is an effective way of getting the word out, if you can think of an angle concerning your book that would interest the public, rather than just announcing the publishing of your book. For example, I wrote a short article for my local newspaper, in which I wrote about how quick and inexpensive it is to self-publish a book now compared to a few years ago. I included a few tips on the publishing process and at the end put a link to my book on Amazon.
  • There are many online press release services. Some are free, listed here and some paid, such as PR Web. Mark Coker of Smashwords has written a comprehensive guide to press release services and also how to write one, in his free e-book The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. Many of the online press release sites offer their own guides on writing press releases.Creative Penn has a very useful post on creating your author press kit.
  • Be creative. You could march down the street wearing a sandwich board advertising your book, or you could pay someone $5 to do it for you. (Hmm hard choice, isn’t it?)  On Fiverr, people of all skills (and there are some very left of centre skills) will do just about anything you want for $5 – you can easily wile away a few hours just checking them all out. The fee starts at $5 for basic services and increases for more complex jobs. I paid $50 for this mock-up press release. (Note: The book cover for How Not To Commit Murder has been updated since this video was created)

This is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to book marketing for the faint-hearted, but I hope it gives you a starting point that doesn't result in that brain explosion mentioned earlier.

If you've enjoyed this post then please leave a comment below.

I'm very interested to hear about your marketing efforts both the good and the duds.

And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to receive a free e-book of short stories.

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