In the first part of this series on book marketing I am handing over the blog to Marketing Consultant, Sarah Ripley (yes, a relation) who is a bit of a whizz when it comes to marketing. That comes in handy, as if there is one thing I seriously underestimated when I became an indie, it was the time and effort it takes to market a book successfully. Over to you, Sarah:
There has never been an easier time to market your book.
Technology is fabulous. It enables you more than ever before to reach your potential readers with the click of a button.
That’s the good news. The bad news is, that there are now so many books available that your potential reader simply hasn’t got time to trawl through the three million plus books on Amazon to find your gem. And if you aren’t careful your competitors will get to them first.
Writing fiction requires a rather odd skillset: from creativity to tenacity; a writer has to be willing to accept criticism and be willing to rewrite, and have the right personal qualities – including a desire to produce the best possible product, polished to perfection. Marketing demands different skills. Marketing can still be done creatively but the writer has to be able take a step back and look at the work the way others see it. It might be hard for a writer to grasp, but marketing is a business and marketing creative work isn’t really any different from marketing any other business in the world. You still have the pressure of comparing your outcomes with those of your competitors but when you wear your marketing “hat” you have to do this in a logical and precise way. Otherwise it’s too easy to fall into the trap of perceiving that everyone else must be doing better than you are. Be honest with yourself too. Maybe that other writer does have a better book cover or a more compelling blurb but have you considered that they might just like marketing more than you do? And maybe, just maybe, they’re a bit more driven, are more tenacious and what’s more, are willing to invest more time and energy than you?
But pep talk over, perhaps the most important decision you will need to make when it comes to the marketing of your book is deciding what it is that will make you stand out. Ideally you should have decided this before you started marketing your but it’s never too late to tweak your marketing plan once the book is published. Digital books, unlike traditionally published print books do not date and if sales are truly dire and you can pinpoint the reason (poor cover design, a title that doesn’t stand out or even that a book targeted at the wrong market), a writer can decide to re-launch their title.
To make your book stand out you need to consider these points:
What is your message? What makes you/your brand/your book special?
What are the needs of your customer? How will you satisfy these needs?
Write these down. They should form the foundation or your marketing.
Unlike many traditional business transactions which require monetary loss for product/service gain, writers’ are asking two things from their customers: money plus time. Time is a far more precious commodity than we might realise. As writers we need to put ourselves in the place of our readers (and for most of us that shouldn’t be difficult as you can’t really be a writer without being a reader as well – can you?). That means not only writing a decent book but making it look good as well.
Sounds simple enough?
Author David Gaughran suggests, in Let’s Get Digital and in his excellent blog, the following list of important steps when putting together the most professional package:
1. A good book that has been professionally edited
2. A striking cover that speak to your genre
3. A compelling blurb that entices your target audience
4. A killer opening that will hook any readers who sample
5. Clean formatting that won’t pull the reader out of the narrative
6. A price that won’t make them think twice
“Too many authors skimp on those steps, and then waste money on marketing. That money would have been much better spent on putting out the most professional book possible. As Seth Godin says, the best marketing is designed into the product.” – David Gaughran.
A good friend, top dude, oh and also a co-Wizard of Ads Partner, Tim Miles, recently published his first book on marketing for business, Good Company – Making It, Keeping It, Being It. Tim has done amazingly well in a short space of time by following the above points and you’ll want to check out his Amazon product and author descriptions as they rock. You can view these at:
Would-be purchasers tend to feel better about their money and time investment as the book has clearly helped others and Tim’s great reviews enhance his product.
Creating and optimising your Amazon sales page with a hook, (quoting from reviews and other supporting information) is probably one of the most effective (and free) marketing activities available to you. Amazon does a great job at doing a lot of the hard work for you. When putting together your sales page, try not to skimp on information or rush this. Simply putting together some generic information and hoping the “hype” of the book will drive sales regardless is a fool’s trip to failure.
Be descriptive. Tell a story… stories are powerful. These stories should speak to the needs of your potential reader, you remember, those needs that you wrote down earlier? Don’t get too bogged down in identifying “your ideal reader” and only speaking to her. Remember we rarely make decisions in a vacuum with only ourselves to consult. Everyone has a friend/sister/mother/partner/neighbour who may just be the best spruiker for your book if you can convert them.
Speak of the felt needs of your reader.
Some other points to consider when marketing your novel:
1. Encourage reviews on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask friends/relatives/colleagues for their reviews. Why not make it a competition?
2. Create a website. Your social media platforms should then all point back to this website.
3. Start a blog.
4. Send out free copies to influential/high profile people, namely reviewers.
Much like traditional marketing – the same concepts still apply. Create a marketing plan and a budget for an ENTIRE YEAR, working out how much time and money you are willing to invest every day/week/month for the whole 365 days. Like dieting, what counts is the effort over the whole year not just the weeks when you feel like it.
Make a marketing commitment and stick to it. Rain, hail, shine or when boredom strikes.
Remember that you the novelist are your brand. And a brand needs time to build. That means there are no quick fixes. It takes commitment, patience and huge motivation. But hey… you put these same principles into writing the book in the first place, so I trust you can follow through.
Sarah Ripley – Marketing Consultant –Wizard of Ads
Visit her blog: http://sarahripleywrites.wordpress.com/