Marketing your book is probably one of the hardest lessons you’ll learn in publishing. First of all, all would-be writers need to understand: even if you are signed with a major publisher, the effort of selling the book and getting word out will be on your shoulders. The publisher will not be paying for this. So what do you do? The first idea that will come to mind is to start filling up Facebook and Twitter (and other social media pages) with the announcement of your publication. That is fine, however, have you spent any time forging relationships prior to this deluge? Have you created a sense of integrity among friends and patrons? Have you constructed an author page (not a personal page, not a book page—because you’ll have to do a book page for every book you do if you do it by the book, which quickly gets out of hand, so focus on an author page).
The thing is, that’s exactly why I am unlikely to share anything about your book. Forget, for a moment, that I am another writer, who also has books that she would love readers to pick up. Imagine me simply as a reader. My feed is inundated with pitches about books. What about yours is going to stand out? Why would I stop to read your post? Is there any investment in your post for me? The constant deluge of the same or similar post is going to lead me to click unfollow or hide all posts. Why? My news feed provides me with the information I need to run my business—political insights, research, and a myriad of on topic information. Your I wrote a book post doesn’t fit into that mix, and becomes an annoyance that limits the things I NEED to see to continue bringing quality content to my readers. It’s about integrity and respect for my readers. I owe them better content, because I want them to read me.
Instead of filling up your feed with I have a new book coming soon, or the ubiquitous 99c and free giveaways, utilize your page to share interesting things, whether you have written them or not. Make me pay attention to you through the ideas you share and sharing the thoughts you have about the things that matter most to you. What would happen if you wrote interesting articles? I’d keep you in my newsfeed for one. So, don’t be stingy and don’t turn about and simply share another author’s new book and promotional ads. What is of interest to you? What would be most likely to attract attention of those following you?
On Facebook and Twitter, you should be following causes you care about, topics you find interesting and even people you like. You might even consider stalking a hashtag, such as #historylols, to find things that will break up the monotony of a page that is drowned in sales posts. The most successful pages on the internet don’t hammer their followers with a constant barrage of buy my book posts. I certainly will not retweet them, or pay them much mind—UNLESS you have given me reason to feel invested in YOU. Above all, I need to be sure that what I am sharing with my readers is quality. I don’t see that in ads, and I can’t be assured, without reading everything you write, that you write quality. But, also, are your topics relevant to my topics? People follow my pages because they like what I curate. Disrupting the flow of on topic posts with ads is going to get annoying fast for my readers, just as constantly hammering your own will do the same on your page. You must supply quality posts about things relevant and engaging. Of course I realize you think your book is relevant and engaging, but until you build a channel around it, no one is going to believe you.
As a marketing tool, I use the copromote feature available through Facebook (there is also an app), to share my articles from this blog as a way of reaching more readers. It is quite effective. The last article I shared went out to 400k twitter people, instead of just 3k. I have increased the number of followers daily at around 5-10 (still small beans but way better than one once in awhile, when I wasn’t promoting). I also get picked up by the people who curate online papers. What do I share? Articles about things other than my books. However, most of the authors on there ignore marketing advice and try to use the platform as a way to get their sales pitch shared widely. Does this result in any sales? Not likely. I brush right past these and look for the things that correspond to my blog, such as articles on pets, cooking and current events. I avoid posts that want me to share videos and music because I would have to watch them all to be sure this is content that I want to share with my readers, and the sheer number of them make that too difficult on a regular basis. Anything you share, when you are a brand, can be thought of as an endorsement, so be careful. If the post is unlike my brand, I am sure to destroy everything I have built by turning my page into a cacophony of nonsense. Worse yet, what if I share something horribly offensive? How is that going to help anyone? That can get you unfollowed more easily than sharing umpteen posts a day about your new book.
Here is an example of what I have promoted recently: a book review by another author, of my book. Yes, it was a review of my own book. Although this might sound contradictory to what I am getting at here, the article was about someone else and how my book affected their life; her surviving cancer and how my book carried her through part of this journey. The article was not simply a sales pitch, nor was it coming directly from me. I shared a relevant post from another blog. Should you try to share more items like this? Not constantly. But, in lieu of the buy my book/get it free posts that likely litter your page, these are a vast improvement. In other words, DO NOT rely on this type of post alone. People do not want to read reviews all day, even if they are uplifting. Curate your page to share a variety of relevant things. Other promotions have been of my artwork and diagrams enhancing my Trailokya Series. I reblog items I find on Pinterest and Tumblr. which relate to my topics. And, as I have said before, I promote my articles from this blog as well as sharing current events and news.
Share Value Added Posts, Not Sales Pitches:
- Follow people, places, things you love and share about them, heading each post with why you like that post–so readers can connect to the author. You’re a brand now, and people want to know more about who you are.
- If you don’t blog and aren’t interested in blogging, then you should submit articles and other pieces to blogs, journals, and news outlets, so you can reach more readers with the things that matter to you.
- Keep your sales pitches to a minimum—not even once a day, try once a week at the most!
- Be clear about what you are sharing—write tweet to go with the link that is meaningful. Use hashtags. Make sure that the image is clear if you use one.
If you follow the steps above, I and many others will be likely to share these articles and points of interest bringing in more interest around you the author. This is what people want to know about. Trust that these new people will poke around your page, browsing photos and links. Set up a call to action button on Facebook that links to your sales page. Link your website. Make use of the photos feature to set up albums around your books. If they want more information, it is at their fingertips, and they’re quite more likely to look into it once they feel a connection with you as a person, not a book seller. Can you now see why I am not interested in sharing your sales posts? It doesn’t fit into my formula for curating a worthwhile page to follow. It would take a really long time to vet your content, since you’re not clearly posting anything about it, meaning I have to go and get it on my time. Just like we hate the umpteen commercials on Television, no one wants another ad on their social media feed. It looks like NASCAR in there already.
None of this is meant to be unkind. The truth is, marketing is much more than hollering about a book on sale. I’ve tried that way, and it is a failure. I’ve tried the way I’m talking about here and it has been a greater success. Being an author is about telling the people you want to read your work why they would want to in the first place. The premise of your book (book blurb, cover, kitschy tweet) alone isn’t enough. You must cultivate a public outreach and interact with individuals to build brand trust. Your readers aren’t going to care about your books until they connect to their author.
One more tip: Submit articles to online and in print journals to get more exposure and cred.
I hope to see you out there. Let’s make some great content together—something we can proudly share with our fans and followers.
Above all, do it because you want to! Don’t do it because you’re using potential readers to up sales. I love my readers, and I care about bringing them great stuff. I’m an entertainer. That’s what I do.
LESLEY FLETCHER says
Have you ever been accused of being too honest? (YES) I get it and agree (yikes did I say that?_ )
Captain Maiel says
Nope. I am thanked for my frankness because it helps a lot of people. It’s appreciated in a world that too often coddles us and loses us opportunity by not being straight. Most of what I write on this topic are things that I wish someone was straight with me about–but held back instead, worrying about my feelings. Sure, we might be taken back at first because it tells us what we think we know is not true, and that is uncomfortable. But, once we set back and think on it, there is almost always something we can take away from the hard lessons which make us grow immensely.