Congratulations! You’ve finished your book and you’re ready to launch it into the world. Now it’s time to harness your creativity and drive to the process of marketing your baby.
Being a successful author depends on so much more than writing a good book, and this short list of book marketing questions will help you determine whether you’re set up for success or if you need to make a few tweaks to your approach.
My team and I use these questions as benchmarks when authors come to us looking for promotion and platform support – that’s how critical their answers are to determining if a foundation is ready to support an author’s long-term goals.
Without further ado!
Does the book fit in the new release category?
The term “new release” is subjective, but I consider a new release to be a book published in the last six months. In this window, I can still confidently pitch bloggers and media about it, and it’s also the timeframe when the book has the best chance of competing with other hot titles out there.
I do work with books that are older than six months all the time, and I have plenty of book marketing strategies up my sleeve that are appropriate for older books, but the reality is that most opportunities are available to books that fit this window. The takeaway here is to plan for your release. Remember Thomas Edison’s wise words: “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”
Does the cover turn heads?
Your book cover can make or break your potential to sell books. Images are far more impactful than words and the brain processes them infinitely faster – so if your cover doesn’t appeal to your buyer market, you won’t pass the first test and you’ll never get a chance to convince readers to buy your book with your description or website or cool Instagram account.
If you’re unsure about whether your book is turning heads, it probably isn’t. Really good book covers leave no questions about quality, and they are appealing whether or not the genre or topic is your cup of tea.
I usually encourage authors to check out the bestseller list to get an idea of what kinds of covers appeal to buyers. While every cover won’t be mind-blowing, most of them on the list are really quite solid, so they’ll give you some insight into what works.
One of the most effective book marketing strategies I can suggest is that you hire a professional cover designer. Believe me when I say that it is worth the money. Find a designer who has a healthy portfolio of covers in your genre and get a quote. Think of it as putting your book’s best face forward: it could make all the difference in your sales conversions.
Will the book description excite potential readers?
A book’s description is so important and there are a lot of fine lines to dance around when crafting one. For these reasons, I never recommend authors write book descriptions on their own. Have a copy editor look it over, have a marketing professional look it over, have a few friends or others in your network look it over if you trust they’ll be honest with you. You don’t have to incorporate everyone’s feedback, but gathering good feedback gives you some invaluable perspective.
The most common pitfalls I see in book descriptions of fiction are that they give too much away or that they don’t tell you enough – either way they totally miss the mark when it comes to building interest and excitement or in leaving the reader wanting more – so much more that they have to buy the book.
The most common pitfall I see with non-fiction book descriptions is that they don’t follow through on answering the “what’s in it for me?” question that potential buyers are asking. If you write non-fiction, you have hundreds of thousands of competitors. You need to make your unique selling points stand out because the person shopping likely already owns a few titles similar to yours, but they haven’t had their needs fulfilled – how are you going to be the book that changes that?
Does the author have a platform?
We always check to see if an author has a website and a social media presence. We ask if they are on Goodreads and if they have a current blog. We want to know their history with their topic, if they have a newsletter, and whether they have any bonus content available.
I know that sounds like a lot of book marketing strategies to check off, but I’m advising you on how to compete and find real success – so each of those strategies matters. But I also don’t want you to get discouraged; I want you to be inspired! If you aren’t using all of these book marketing strategies, you have awesome untapped opportunities that you can leverage for success.
Get yourself on track to follow through with some of these crucial platform elements. Brainstorm a list of blog topic ideas or do some research on what other authors in your genre include in their newsletters – sign up for some and see what inspires you. When you take action, you take control, and implementing a few new marketing strategies is a surefire way to shoo discouragement right out the door.
Does the author have other books?
Nothing sells books like more books. Obviously if you’re a debut author, you’re off the hook for this one – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t already be planning your next release.
Your virtual bookshelf on Amazon says a lot about your success potential because it tells readers how serious you are about delivering more books to fans. Think about it: they’re considering buying your book, and wouldn’t that be an easier decision to make if you had other titles available with great covers and solid reviews? Of course it would! That kind of evidence means you’re a sure thing and they know they can come back for more.
So, keep your publishing schedule consistent and don’t wait around to “see how things will go” before writing your next book – that’s not a thing, and I wish authors would just give up that way of planning their futures.
At the end of the day, we can’t always hit the target with our answers to these five key book marketing questions for an already released book, but I hope you will take these insights and apply them to your next release. One of the best parts about being an author is the opportunity for growth. With each release we have a chance to do things differently, to approach our book marketing strategies in a smarter way, and to continue to build on all our hard work for even greater success.
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. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.