How to Stop Marketing Like Your Grandma
(A series on marketing advice for the new publishing landscape.)
So how would Grandma market her books? Grandma tends to be set in her ways, and she’s stubborn about making changes, thinking the old way of doing things is the best way. While that might apply to baking, it doesn’t apply to marketing. Here are 4 ways authors are still marketing like Grandma:
#1 Resisting Social Media and being unreachable. You can’t be invisible and expect to sell books.
#2 Being focused on blog tours, book signings, speaking at schools and libraries, giveaways, and book release parties with cake and balloons. These things don’t work for anyone and it’s really just publicity big publishers use. These things will not sell your books for you. It’s too small scale, and no one will notice you. If you try to market like you see the big publishers marketing J. K. Rowling, you will fail because no one can compete with that on their own.
#3 Ignoring the marketing machine that is Amazon. It’s natural to resist a company many see as a monopoly, but if you want to compete with big publishers, then you need to hold hands with the only company that has the power to do that.
#4 Thinking some nice bookmarks, business cards, and magnets for your car will sell books. This is a digital revolution, Grandma. How many pretty bookmarks do you think you can give out? They’re nice to have on hand, but they will not sell books.
The 12 Best Ways to Market your Books in the 21st Century
#1 Digital Shelf Space
Obviously the more books you have on the shelf, the more books you’ll sell. So write more books and fill the digital shelves with your stories. And don’t get stuck within just one or two formats. Many tend to focus on just selling print or eBooks, and you’re forgetting other formats in this fast-growing industry. Don’t ignore audiobooks too! Just like eBooks exploded, so are audiobooks, thanks to Amazon purchasing ACX. Don’t be left in the dust like grandma by resisting that. However, remember that just because you have a lot of eBooks available doesn’t mean your audiobooks will sell as well because it’s actually a different audience without much overlap. So to sell all of these formats, you need to have digital shelf space in each one.
#2 Think commercially. Or think like your buyer…
What does your audience want to buy? It might not be what you think they want. But if you want it to sell, you need to have an open mind, do that research, and then start marketing to their wants or interests.
This doesn’t mean you need to stop writing the genre you like to write. What I mean is that you need make the genre you write something your target audience wants to buy. What book cover inspires a purchase as opposed to what you like the best? What sorts of stories, covers, or narrators interest people who like the genre your write? For example, if you write high fantasy, who loves that genre and buys it the most? Is it mostly men or women, teens or adults? Or if you write romance, what are romance readers looking for? What draws them to a cover? If you write romance, and you commission an artisticly beautiful cover, will it sell? Or will a couple about to kiss more likely sell the book?
How do you figure out what your audience wants to buy? Ask them! I asked my readers if they preferred listing to male or female narrators when I started producing my audiobooks. I asked for outside opinion for the cover as well as had others listen to auditions. (Cover example: Artistically, putting the Eiffel tower on the audiobook version of Fractured made it too busy, but everyone said they would buy it because of the Eiffel tower, so it has the Eiffel tower because that is what will sell more than the one without it.)
#3 Cover Art
Covers are for selling not telling, so stop trying to tell your story on the cover. Instead have something that appeals to your target audience designed.
#4 Connect emotionally with your audience.
That’s the best way to create dedicated, almost addicted, buyers. How you made them feel will stick with them more than even the genre of your book. Succeeding in each genre is sorting out the feelings you need to stir to appeal to that audience.
If you write horror, then write stories that will frighten Stephen King.
If you write fantasy, then write stories that fill the reader with a sense of wonder.
If you write romance, then compose stories that make them want to fall madly in love and melts their hearts.
If you write mystery, then write stories that make them feel intrigued and makes them think.
People won’t remember what you did, wrote, or said, but how you make them feel will stick with them. If they have strong emotional reactions as they read or listen to your story, they’ll become dedicated fans. How you write is very import and the narrator you choose is also very important here. The right narrator can lift the words from the page and make your audience feel the words as well as, if not better than just reading it can.
#5 Solve their Problems
Help them sort out a problem by seeing how the characters cope or sort it out. Help them escape when life is too much. For my audiobooks, I chose a narrator with a very soothing voice, and now we’ll helping people that way too. I have disabled readers who can’t even hold up a book or see to read an eBook. Audiobooks make my stories more accessible to them. My narrator can read you to sleep when you can’t calm down enough to relax. And it’s not because he is boring, his voice is just so easy on the ears.
#6 Paid Advertising
Use only the most effective paid advertising resources, like BookBub, Facebooks ads, or Amazon ad campaigns. But you need to learn how to use Facebook ads right or you’ll be wasting your money. So watch Mark Dawson’s free webinar on Facebook ads. Search YouTube for tutorials on how to use Facebook ads. Ask other authors what paid advertising worked for them and don’t waste your time with the ones that don’t stir a huge spike in sales.
#7 Video Marketing
Currently, there isn’t a paid advertising resource that sells a lot of audiobooks, except for maybe Amazon and YouTube. Selling audiobooks can have a bigger payout than even eBooks though, so it’s important to find what works. When trying to market audiobooks, you first have to find your audience, and YouTube is where a lot of them hang out. Also there is a large and growing community on YouTube called BookTube. I’ve also noticed that Audible puts a lot of advertising money into marketing on YouTube. It’s seems like a reasonable assumption to me that if they are focusing on YouTube to market audiobooks then you should too. Also, Facebook ads that are sharable videos uploaded directly to Facebook, perform much better on Facebook than just pictures. Note: Don’t just share the YouTube link, though. Videos catch on faster if they’re uploaded directly to Facebook. If you don’t think video marketing is an important thing to consider these days, then you need talk to a few teens & twenty-somethings about how much YouTube they watch…get with the times, Grandma!
#8 Mailing List
You have got to stop ignoring this! Do everything you can to build your email newsletter list and start emailing them regularly. But don’t be spammy!!! Post fun things to the group, share recipes, share fun BookTube videos you’ve made, have fun giveaways, get to know them by asking them what they like to read and then even recommend books, following those interests, that aren’t yours to your readers. By doing this, you’re catering to their interests and adding value to your email list. The mailing list is the best way to launch a new book and have a decent spike in sales, but it has be more than 500 people to really accomplish much. If you can find a service that will build your email list for you, then I recommend doing that. I did and it was worth every penny. (I am using the Author Platform Rocket.)
This one is tough to control, but do what you can and get creative. When people get to the end of your eBook, thank them for taking the time to read it and then encourage them to post a review. Or have giveaways for posting reviews on your blog, website, or with your email list.
#10 Watch & Learn from other Authors like You
I’m always watching authors who write books that are similar to mine to see what they’re doing and if it’s working for them. Sign up for their email list to see what they’re sending out to their readers. Pay attention to what is and isn’t working for them, then take those ideas and cater them to yourself.
#11 Social Media (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle)
Social media does not sell books, but it seals the deal. People who are tempted to buy will finalize the purchase if they like what they see on social media. They don’t trust you yet. You can’t be addicted to it or shun it like the plague and accomplish your marketing goals. But there has to be something there for them to see. You have to be visible there or people will forget about you. So make it as simple as possible and don’t let it suck up all of your time when you should be writing.
Reduce the amount of time you’re on social media by scheduling it, even set a timer if you have to. Balance time between connecting with the audience as a human and working hard on producing more books.
Reuse posts from others. Let them do the work and then just click share. Also, I’ve linked my Instagram account with Twitter and Facebook. That way I can do one Instagram post that goes out to Facebook and Twitter at the same time.
Recycle old posts from years in the past. These things will make you look busier than you are without it sucking years of your life away into its evil vortex of useless nonsense.
#12 Learn and use all of the Benefits of Amazon
Stop trying to compete with big publishers who buy their way into the most prominent spots. You just end up trying to compete with J. K. Rowling and Stephen King on your own…as an indie? Good luck with that… Instead learn how to use Amazon and let them market your books for you. No one is better at marketing you than Amazon if you understand their system. If you do that, you will start competing with J. K. Rowling and actually make more than most traditionally published authors. Amazon can compete with the big publishers, you can’t. Maybe they are evil and they’re about to drive every bookstore out of business. I honestly don’t know, and I don’t really care. All I want to do is earn money while I sleep and Amazon can do that for me.
(Sorry, this post may contain typos since I’m trying to finish my 7th book and didn’t proofread this post as well as I should have.)