Writing a book is only a 1/3 of the writing process. While many writers are familiar and enthusiastic about writing and publishing their books, few give thought to how marketing said book will affect them in the future until they find themselves waist deep in mistakes. If you've recently published or are planning to publish by the end of the year, check your strategy for these 5 marketing mistakes!
1. Thinking Your Book Will Sell Itself
For some writers, writing the book is the main focus. This is fine whilst the book is being written, but at some point the book will eventually come to an end, and the next phase of production will begin. This means querying for an agent or publisher, self-publishing, and promoting your book's sales. If you're new to the process of book marketing, you may find yourself thinking things like "I'm an author. I write the books, I don't sell them." or "People buy my book, they don't buy me." Unfortunately both of these are misconceptions. Thinking that you'll write a book that will wind up as big hit overnight without any effort on your part is a big mistake.
There's no such thing as "sleeper hits" or the "discovery fairy". When you see books making the Best-Sellers Lists, being promoted on TV or the web, or selling well in stores, it's because there was an author (and their team) dedicated to the marketing behind it. If your only intention is to publish a book, then its not necessary to do anything but publish it. However, if you expect to see any income or to see your story be successful, prepare yourself to do a lot of the ground work to get it there. Whether you are self-publishing or traditionally publishing, it's your responsibility as the author to promote and successfully sell your book.
The best way to jump-start your sales is get people talking. Your potential readers need to know about your book- this means getting the word out to the best of your ability. Start small by spreading the word and enlisting your readers and fellow writing friends to help you. Get those reviews in on Amazon, Goodreads, and other reviewing sites. Make sure that you are actively utilizing social media to help raise awareness and attract potential readers. If you can attract enough attention, you'll see your sales rate raise over time.
2. Blaming Your Lack of Sales On Something Other Than Yourself
One of the most common mistakes amateur authors make is to blame their lack of success on "macro" effects on the market. This refers to phenomenons like a holiday, the summer slump, the algorithm changes on Amazon, turbulent elections, etc. While its easy to blame your lack of sales or a lack of attention on things such as these, the reality is that individual authors aren't typically affected by these larger forces. Only big publishers and businesses need to worry about them.
Unfortunately, knowing that means you have to take responsibility for why your books aren't selling rather than blaming something else for your lack of income. As an author, your book sales are much more affected by the "micro", meaning that it's entirely up to you (and your decisions) when it comes to success.
Ask yourself the following:
When did you last release?
When did you last advertise or otherwise promote?
If the answer is that you haven't or you don't remember, then it's most likely that you're the cause of your own problem. Remember, the more effort you put into the above, the more progress you'll make overall so focus on these and keep going.
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3. Using A One-Size-Fits All Marketing Approach
Always be aware of who you're speaking to when trying to advertise your book. You wouldn't ask a stranger you don't know directly for a loan, just like you wouldn't address a friend with a cold and informal greeting. The same goes for marketing. Knowing who you're trying to attract makes all the difference when it comes to your marketing strategy.
At a loss for how to begin? That's okay! A good rule of thumb is to use the 80/20 rule. Use 80% of your time to promote your story by showing off snippets, letting readers get to know your characters and plotline, sharing fun facts or tidbits about your writing process, etc. Then once they've been hooked, use the remaining 20% to send them the sales pitch.
Another good tip to keep in mind is to present your readers with value before ever asking them to buy. Sharing a resource, helping them with a problem, sharing an anecdote about an emotional time in your life, and generally speaking being relatable are all ways that you as an author can offer your supporters value without relying on marketing materials. Freebies and other promotional items don't hurt though so definitely invest some time and money there as well!
4. Treating Ad Platforms As Equals
Okay, so you've had some success when it comes to engagement and your initial sales launch, what next? The answer is often to spread the word via Ad platforms such as Facebook, BookBub, and Amazon. The pitfall is when you start to rest on your success and start treating each of these platforms as equals. The truth is they're all different and that should be taken into consideration when you use them. There are key differences between platforms in terms of audience, targeting, bids, price sensitivity, and what images work best. While learning the individual quirks may be challenging at first, the rewards are well worth it.
For example, while targeting a specific author's audience on Facebook may be useful, the same will not be true for BookBub Ads, where the size of their following will be skewed by how many Featured Deals or BookBub Ads they have run. This means the best approach is to vary your targets and select entirely different authors when using this site. By creating a custom list of authors on BookBub you improve the performance of your ads overall and subsequently discover new authors to target in the process.
The same line of thinking goes with social media in general. You can't expect to utilize Twitter and Instagram the same way, because simply put they're not the same. Each social media site has its own quirks and trends that work. Understanding these tactics and tailoring your approach to each individual site will ensure you succeed across the board instead of stagnating after a certain point.
5. Chasing Trends Instead of Focusing On What Matters
Chasing trends and always being on top of what's next may be fun and seem worthwhile, but in the long run these are just distractions. Authors who focus on their core business (writing high quality stories at a consistent rate) are typically more successful. Why? Because they chose to focus on marketing through conventional channels (email, reader sites, Facebook, BookBub, Amazon Ads, cross-promotion, and newsletter updates).
It's not about being the first to do something, it's about consistency. By utilizing all the resources you can and investing your time and energy into your core business you increase the level of results you'll see overall.
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