By Elaine L. Orr
It's been a while since I've written a post about marketing books. I let readers know about what I've written, but because I have a consistent audience (after twelve years), I pay less attention to it. That needs to change.
The most important thing I've learned is that an author isn't selling her books, she's selling herself and developing relationships with readers and other writers. That takes more time and (dare I say it) sometimes it's inconvenient.
In the "old days," people interested in your work would write you a letter. (That's the piece of paper you have to send with a stamp.) You could answer them every week or two -- I'm not saying I've had tons since 2010, but I always admired how my author friend, Leigh Michaels, stayed in touch with the many fans who wrote to her. She even did a short book in which she answered the questions fans asked.
That takes a lot of time, you say. True, but you could schedule it somewhat. Now, if someone sends an email or message on social media, they expect a response fairly soon. I don't check my LinkedIn account too often, and that has irritated a few people. My bad.
I recently read Krystal Craiker's blog post on marketing tips. Three paragraphs are worth quoting directly.
[Book marketing expert Jean Hanson-Depaula] says, “I think the biggest difference is that book marketing has to show readers that their book is worth their time. Readers have no shortage of options when it comes to books—and other entertainment for that matter.”
Books are a time commitment for readers. For most people, it takes a lot longer to read a book than to stream a movie on Netflix. With so much quick entertainment at our fingertips, authors must show people that their book has value.
Book marketing coach Monique Mensah agrees: “My number one tip for book marketing is to stop selling the book and start marketing the value.” For fiction authors, what experience are you providing your readers? What problem are you trying to solve if you write nonfiction?
These concepts are not fully implemented by sending tweets or buying ads -- not that either is bad. I tweet every day because it's something I can do in five minutes. While I mostly tweet about books I have for sale on varied sites, I also regularly post links to my blog and books of other authors.
The most important thing is to write a really good book. That doesn't happen if you rush through your drafts -- emphasis on drafts, not one-and-done.
It's exciting to finish a book, especially the first one. But it needs to sit quietly for at least a week or two so you can read it with a less enthusiastic eye and make improvements. And then have others read it (not just friends!) and possibly work with an editor. There are lots of freelance editors and proofreaders today.
Mark Dawson of the Self Publishing Formula says, "“Make sure everything—from the manuscript, the cover, the blurb to the ad copy—all dovetails. In other words, every part of your book needs to fit together and be high quality to convert your readers." (Convert? That's a marketing term that means making it easy for someone to get from thinking about a book they see on a shelf or retail website to actually reading it. And then your next book.)
The best thing I've done in terms of marketing was to have all of the covers redone so the twelve books and shorter novellas in the Jolie Gentil mystery series have the same look. When I started the series, I envisioned three books. Ha! Readers now recognize the series before they read the title of a new book.
The best advice I could give is to do at least some marketing every week. It's easy to focus on writing (and the rest of your life) and not consciously look for new readers. You'll find good suggestions in Craiker's article or look for marketing in the index to this blog.
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