It’s no secret that book marketing is essential for authors. Without a well-thought-out marketing strategy, your book will likely languish in obscurity. Even if you have the best book ever written, no one will know about it if you don’t market it well. But it’s hard to know where to start. And how can you create a strategy in a sustainable way that doesn’t consume all your time and energy or wears you out?
What many people don’t realize is that a book marketing strategy requires thought, effort and time put in long before the book is published – sometimes even before it is written. In this blog post, you’ll learn a simple 3-step process for building the foundation of a sustainable book marketing strategy. By following these steps, you’ll be able to reach more readers and sell more books.
Step 1: Know who you are and what you bring to the table.
It’s important to know who you are as an author and what you bring to the table. To build a strong foundation for a book marketing strategy, you need to know your strengths, your interests, and your skills. When you know these things, you can more effectively market your book to your target audience. These are the assets that you bring to your book promotion table, as it were. Authentic book writing and marketing stems from these roots.
As Thomas à Kempis wrote, “wherever you go, you take yourself with you, and you will always find yourself.” This has been paraphrased many times since, probably most notably in the 1984 science-fiction cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, as “Where ever you go, there you are.”
One way to zero in on this is to identify your values. You can find a free Personal & Business Core Values Exercise at CarmaSpence.com. You can also watch a less-than-eight-minute presentation I did in which I shared three more ways to get to know yourself better in this post on that site: Inquire Within. Here are some more resources I’ve provided over time that can help you know who you are and what you bring to the table:
When you know yourself and your work well, marketing becomes so much easier (and more fun!) because you’re simply sharing what you love with the world. Your audience wants to know what makes you different from other authors. Whether it’s your personal story, your writing style, or your niche topic, make sure you’re sharing your unique perspective in your marketing and promotions. Ask yourself: What makes you special? And then go out and share it!
Step 2: Get clear on your branding.
Sustainable book marketing is also about being clear on your branding. You need to be sharply focused about your niche, your audience, and how you can serve them. What are you known for? What are your unique selling points? These are the things that make you different from everyone else in your market. And when you’re clear on your branding, it becomes so much easier to market yourself and your books. Because when you know who you are, it’s a lot easier to attract the right people to your work.
Branding is not a logo, nor a tagline, nor any other specific thing. It is how your target audience feels about you and your work. And those feelings last a lot longer than any marketing campaign. Although branding happens whether you are consciously creating it or not, it is better to be strategic about it. That’s where logos and taglines, colors, and fonts, and all the other trappings of brand come into play. They help foster a specific feeling about what is being branded.
Creating a strong brand takes time, but it’s worth it. Because once you have a strong brand, you have something that can weather any storm. You have something that will sustain you through good times and bad. So, if you want to create a book marketing plan that works for you 24/7, a very important early step is to get clear on your branding.
I’ve discussed author branding on this blog before, so I won’t go into here.
Sustainable book marketing grows from the work you did in Step 1, informing your brand. By completing Step 1, it is much easier to get clear what you’re offering your audience and how to present it authentically. Branding, in part, is discovering how you can use your unique self – your Geek Factor so to speak – in cooperation with your strengths to engage your target audience. If you would like or need help with your author brand, check out these two ways in which I can help:
Step 3: Build a strong author platform for sustainable book marketing.
Your author platform is the way you connect with your readers, it’s the sum total of everything that makes you, as an author, visible and attractive to readers and industry professionals. It’s how you develop and grow a relationship with them, so they keep coming back for more. But like any relationship, it takes work to maintain. You can’t just sit back and wait for your readers to find you – you must actively engage with them. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to do this.
The basics of an author email marketing system is as follows:
A relevant and enticing opt-in incentive:
It attracts your ideal target readers and showcases what you have to offer in a bite-sized manner.
A highly visible opt-in form on your website:
Don’t hide it! Make sure that everyone who visits your website is invited to continue the relationship.
Email marketing software:
This is the tool you use to deliver your incentive, as well as your newsletter, in a manner that is compliant with regulations and laws.
And, to make this all work even more effectively, you’ll want to create a landing page, a thank you page, and a welcome follow-up email sequence for each incentive you offer.
Yes, that can sound like a lot of complicated work, however, most email marketing software makes this more or less simple. I use Aweber because they offer some of the best tools I’ve found on the market for a very reasonable price.
If you would like help with setting up your email marketing the right way, I’m working on a workshop tentatively called Aweber for Authors: Build a Solid Email Marketing System in a Weekend. If you’d like to get on the early notification list for this workshop, sign up here.
Increase Visibility with Social Media
Social Media may not be that effective for selling books directly, but it is fantastic at growing awareness and visibility, as well as building recognized authority and expertise. To build a sustainable book marketing social media plan, follow these guidelines:
Focus on one social media platform that your target market hangs out and that you find relatively easy to use. Master that platform, and only then start adding others. If you don’t like using a platform, then don’t.
Tailor Your Posting:
Each social platform has different strengths. Leverage them. Use Facebook differently than LinkedIn, differently that Pinterest, and so forth.
Leverage Reader Platforms:
GoodReads, Reedsy, and BookBub are all platforms that cater to readers. Make sure that at minimum your books are listed on them.
Let Your Readers Know Where You Hang Out:
Be sure to share your social profiles on your website and in your social media platform profiles.
Your imagery, colors, and message need to be consistent across all platforms so that someone who finds you on one will recognize you when they encounter you on another.
Affirm Your Authority with Community
But don’t stop there – get involved in online communities, speak at events, and build relationships with other authors and influencers in your field. Create win-win experiences where not only do you achieve your goals, but your audience and your partners also achieve theirs.
Being an author is often billed as a lonely calling. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Tap into the author community and let’s all grow together!
Although I mentioned it in Step 3, building a strong author platform is essential for any writer who wants to be successful in today’s marketplace. However, you must do the work of the first steps in order to build one that will last. It’s not something you can do overnight. Sustainable book marketing requires a long-term commitment to regularly producing high-quality content and engaging with your audience on a regular basis.
This is not a one-time event. Keep learning and evolving your strategy as you go. Book marketing should be an ongoing conversation that you have with your audience. It should be something that you are constantly tweaking and improving upon. The most important thing is to be patient, stay flexible, and keep learning. If you’re up for the challenge, the rewards can be great.
To build a strong author platform, you need to create a long-term plan for how you’ll connect with readers and grow your audience. The key is to be consistent in your efforts and focus on creating value for your readers. The more you put into your platform, the more you’ll get out of it. So, start building today – with a little hard work and dedication, you can build a strong author platform that will sustain your career for years to come.