As indie authors we all want to sell books. To do this, we need to get better at book marketing. But with the individual strategies changing regularly, how can authors keep up with that?
By staying current on what’s really working in the market.
So I’m sharing with you the top strategies that authors should be utilizing this year. And as it’s still the first quarter, you have plenty of time to put these into practice.
Social Media Should Be More Productive
The best thing you can do for your social media efforts is to spend less time on social media: Yes, you read that right. I said less.
Why? You need to be more productive and more strategic. Don’t waste time on efforts that aren’t giving you visibility. This is a great time to assess your various platforms and see where you really need to be. Once you’ve done that, be sure the effort you’re putting in is really making sense. If none of your posts are getting likes, shares, or comments, then maybe it’s time to reassess what you’re posting and where. Book marketing is about communication and engagement. So, if your posts aren’t generating that, it’s time to re-evaluate.
The point also is that social media can be a black hole of ineffectiveness. If you aren’t careful, you’ll lost a lot of valuable book marketing time just trying to “make stuff work.” So instead of pushing out content that isn’t getting noticed, and spreading this across five or so platforms, why not focus on one platform and really make that one work. Less is more.
Success in publishing (and book marketing!) comes from having more than one book. You can do shorter books (eBooks work great for this), novellas, workbooks, journals, etc. Plus, even white papers can work if they’re long enough.
How long is long enough? Start with 50 pages minimum. And remember, you can’t just publish anything. Your content must be good, entertaining or helpful.
So, why do you need more books? Surprisingly, it’s often easier to sell than just one.
When you market one book (this is especially true for books in a series), you drive attention to all the books in your library, not just one – and this helps you sell more books. And if you plan your investment right, you don’t have to spend a ton of time on each book.
You must have a good editing and a great cover, yes. However, it doesn’t have to cost you boatloads of money. Having multiple books will help you reach that book sales and book marketing goal much quicker.
Book Pricing is a Key Factor
Authors and publishers often price their books too high, especially eBooks. Never, ever price your books in such a way that they are no longer competitive with their markets. If you want to sell more books, price them so the audience will buy.
Your Cover Must Match the Genre
This comes from knowing your genre. And while you want your cover to be unique, you don’t want it to be so unique that your readers look at it and expect a different kind of book.
Because genres often demand a certain “look” and we know this because a thriller cover and a cover for a holiday romance are vastly different. The same is true for a text-book vs. a self-help book.
So do your homework, check out what popular books in your genre are doing for covers. And, if your cover doesn’t measure up, back to the drawing board. It’s a must if you want to sell more books.
Consistency is Critical
You should never, ever be sitting around thinking: “What should I do now?” Always have a book marketing strategy in the hopper. Sometimes people “take a break’ from book marketing to see what happens with the book when they do. This is always a bad idea. You’ll lose the momentum that you’ve built.
Because what happens when you stop marketing your book? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Book marketing is a conversation and once that conversation stops, so does the visibility of your book. Indie authors, I’m looking at you. Because when you choose to self-publish, you also take on the role of being the primary conversationalist for your book.
But, when I say “always be promoting,” I don’t mean that you have to do big, fancy blog tours every month. Maybe it’s an eBook promotion, or reader outreach or a fun contest on social media. Whatever strategies you choose, just be sure to follow them consistently.
Connect With Your Audience
This is more important now than ever. Connect with your readers. Share your insights and ideas, and in general, treat them like they are your village. Because, spoiler alert: they are your village. Your readers who look forward to every book are more important than any other book marketing effort you do.
Need ideas for connecting? Start a newsletter list if you don’t have one and do consistent outreach to let your reader know they are always in the forefront of your mind! Think about yourself as a small business and drive engagement as much as possible. This could also be a group on social media or a readers’ circle.
Start Doing More Video
This is one of the hottest book marketing tools out there. And I’ll admit, it can be intimidating to put yourself out there so visually. But it’s important to get in front of your audience in a way that they’ll respond to. So whether it’s a book trailer, a personal video you make thanking your readers, Facebook Live events, or whatever you feel compelled to do, be sure to include video as one of your marketing tools this year.
If you haven’t yet started mastering Amazon, or at minimum maximizing your presence on the site, the time is now. If you’ve ever taken one of my classes or bought my book, you know that it’s attainable.
Amazon is only going to matter more as the year goes on. So the sooner you start, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits. Book marketing this year starts and typically ends with Amazon, so maximize it. You’ll be glad you did! If you don’t know how to do this on your own, we have a great Amazon Optimization program that can help you get better searchability.
Get That eBook Online
Why? Because you want to own as much of the Amazon real estate as you can. Even if your book doesn’t have an eBook market per se (like children’s or maybe a coffee table book), you should still have one.
Another reason for doing this, aside from the real estate part of it, is that there are a whole host of book marketing promotions you can do using your eBook that aren’t available to you with only a print book. And that visibility will push people to the preferred, most appropriate format, even if it’s print.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Print
Don’t forgo print entirely. While the eBook revolution is here and loud and proud, you don’t want to bypass your print book. Why? Again, it’s the real estate factor. You want to own as much of it as you can. Also, a print book will help you gain more visibility internationally as well. And some readers are die-hard proponents of print. You don’t want to leave them behind!
Why You Want to Go Audio
Audio is another great way to get your book out there. And you don’t necessarily have to do an audio book. You could also use the tools available to you at Sparemin to create a fun, audio excerpt read by you! And you can use this on social media. It can be a lot of fun and a great way to connect with your readers.
Capitalize on the Little Successes
Incremental successes can be huge. Why? Because every success is cumulative and they all build on each other. This is a big deal and it will be an even bigger deal as more books hit the virtual shelves this year. In order to gain momentum for your book, you must focus on and celebrate the smaller successes. Big, splashy media doesn’t always just “appear” – more often than not it’s preceded by smaller, often off-the-radar-screen successes. Good book marketing happens one step at a time.
Keep Growing Your Fan Base
This is important. You need a fan base if you are going to be successful. So get started. Now. With so many books being published you can’t rely on getting blogger attention – or getting as much attention as you saw a few years ago. If you haven’t started building your tribe, now is the time to do it.
Cater to Your Genre
By “cater” to it I mean make sure your branding aligns with the genre. Your book should speak to your genre and its fans. A lot of authors I speak to aren’t clear on their genre. You shouldn’t even be considering publishing unless you know, without question, what genre you’re in. Book sales only happen when your book is in a clearly defined market. Don’t make the reader try to guess what your book is about or where it belongs, because they won’t, they’ll just move on.
Refresh Your Old Cover
Now might be a great time to redo, refresh, or maybe even re-release older books. Covers do age and, in some cases, become really outdated. Be sure your entire line speaks to current, fresh, and new. A cover refresh can also trigger the Amazon algorithm, too!
Focus on Your Brand
What is your author brand? Simply put, it’s who you are. So, let’s use Coke an example. When you think of Coke you think of soda, right? But what if Coke started producing cheese, you’d find that confusing, wouldn’t you?
The same is true of an author brand. Maybe you want to publish across different genres and that’s fantastic only if done strategically. Keep in mind that if you do this, straight out of the gate, it can confuse your new reader. Do all of your books follow a certain theme? If not, should they? The more consistent you overall “look” is, the less you will confuse your reader. This includes your website and social media.
Network and Share the Love
When was the last time you reached out to other authors in your genre? This year author networking will be even more important. So how do you start? Send them an email of social media message! Build a network to share ideas, tips and also share each other’s successes. It’s great business sense. You’ll want to make sure that you all stick together as markets become more competitive and new marketing ideas emerge.
You’re going to see even more collaboration in the new year. Authors collaborating on book projects and marketing ideas like offering a big, bundled promotion, doing a contest, or something else fabulous. Collaboration is a great way to drive considerably more attention to whatever it is you are promoting. Plus, by offering suggestions your readers will love, you become a great resource to them.
We hope you’re already putting many of these into practice. And while you don’t have to employ every single one of them, you should do as many as you can. So, keep these tips handy and refer back to them periodically. It will help you sell more books!
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.