How to Market Your Book
Marketing seems to freak out many writers, me included!
I guess it’s because we’re generally introverts who are happiest alone or in small groups – the thought of engaging with strangers to talk about a deeply personal work just doesn’t come naturally.
(Before I write a bit more, a big shout-out to all the salesmen and women who work ethically and professionally. You’re not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about the dodgy folk who prey on the elderly and vulnerable. No-one wants to feel like that.)
This is the third post in a series of three on selling your rights and publishing, sparked by a recent radio interview with Vanda Symon on Otago Access Radio. You can check out the first of these posts here (or you can listen to the podcast!).
6 Steps to Marketing Your Book
Know your audience. If you don’t have an audience, think about the audience you want. It helps if you can get really specific here: not just male/female and age, but where they live and what are their interests; where they hang out, and who their influencers are.
Marketers call this ‘building an avatar’ – not a big blue alien, but an ideal customer. This has never worked for me, because being a writer, I have an extremely fertile imagination – and an avatar has to be reasonably accurate (i.e. not imaginary) to be useful.
Instead, I think of my two most passionate fans (that aren’t related to me:)) I don’t stalk them, obviously, but I know roughly how old these two fans are, where they hang out (facebook, goodreads, instagram, blogs etc) and I know what they like to read.
I develop content for ONLY these two fans. I call them K and N.
Quick side-note: if you’re new to writing, or you’re not really sure who your biggest fans are, then have a look at this podcast on the Author Hangout. Here you’ll find a quick step-by-step guide to developing a reader profile.
Develop content for your audience. Every blog post is written for either K or N. (Except this one, although K might find it interesting). Every post on social media is designed for them. My only criteria about each post is: would K or N like this? (This approach also MAKES me sit down and write my current WIP, because I know that the thing they most want from me is my next book.)
Share your content. When I’ve developed content, like this blog post, I go onto twitter or facebook or whatever, and I say, hey, I’ve made this! I don’t say ‘Hey N, here’s another post just for you,’ – that’s kind of weird. But often one or the other will pick it up and share it or retweet or whatever, and I love that, because it means I’ve done something that makes them happy.
Side note: This doesn’t have to be only social media. When I get to a milestone in my word count, I share it, because I know N is gagging for my next book! I popped a My Book Progress bar on my home page, because I know it’s what N wants to know.
Marketing Through Sharing Love
It took me a long time to learn this approach, and I’ve only just started working like this since the beginning of March. But since then interest in my blog is going up and downloads of my books are increasing. Why? Because it’s not just N and K buying my books – hell, I’ve given them my books – it’s because there’s enough people out there like N and K, and they also like the same material.
I am really, really grateful to N and K for their support and I want to deliver more content that makes them happy. It’s just a side benefit that other people like it too.
I’ve summarised this approach in a pdf, which you’re welcome to download.
I’ll also be talking about it again in my upcoming ebook.
Before I wrap up this extra-long post here’s a couple of things to consider.
Social Media is Not Essential
Don’t be spammy. Don’t stalk. Be compassionate, respectful and behave like a normal human.
Marketing doesn’t mean you have to slather yourself in social media. Old-fashioned print or radio works too.
If your fans don’t live online you may not even need a website (although I would, but that’s another post for another day); the point is, once you know who your fans are, you can design your marketing to serve their needs. Robert Free meets his fans through sending a ballad to Radio New Zealand every day. It seemed to take Robert AGES to get his website up and running, but I’m not sure this really mattered; he was already meeting his audience through radio.
Play to your strengths. If your fans are out and about on a variety of different channels – like blogs, youtube, instagram – chose the channels that suit you best. I like taking photos and I’m totally in love with my iphone, so instagram works well for me.
Kyle Mewburn, who writes books for kids, is a natural entertainer and has a youtube channel. This suits his fans, too, because teachers and parents can play it for their kids.
Finally, although I say you don’t need to be involved in social media, it sure helps you to meet more readers than traditional media. And unless you’re running adverts, social media is free. (As a side note, if you are thinking of running ads on social media, check out Mark Dawson’s Facebook training videos. They’re free, and are almost guaranteed to save you a ton of money.) It always saddens me when I hear (usually older) writers say “oh no, I don’t get facebook.” They’re missing out on an opportunity to hear and connect with readers, and surely, that is why we write, isn’t it?
Writing is Connection
Which takes me back to the beginning of this three-part series of blog posts: Why do we write? For me, it’s to connect; to share; to provide enjoyment. Writing, actually, is not about me. It’s about my reader.
Thanks for sticking with me through this incredibly long post. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
Here’s a summary as a slide-deck:
And thanks again, Vanda and Otago Access Radio, who sparked this series of posts. Now you’ve navigated your way to the end of them, here’s the link again to the podcast interview. I hope you enjoy!