Relevance. Visibility. Exposure. These are the watchwords for any author. But let’s move beyond words to action.
As both an author and service provider to authors, there’s one common thread I see frequently when it comes to book sales: taking responsibility.
What do I mean?
I hear authors frequently placing blame on others (‘Amazon KDP Select is terrible!’ Or ‘My publicist didn’t do what I wanted!’ Or ‘Nobody reads my blog!’) for their lack of sales. As a fifteen-year veteran of sales and marketing in the Pharma industry, the only person ultimately responsible for sales is YOU.
Let’s deconstruct what I hear frequently and the realities:
- I hate promoting myself. If I had a nickel for every time I hear an author say that, I’d be writing today about how to rub nickels together to make a success.
- I’m a creative. I get the whole ‘self-promotion is bad’ thing (which it’s not, but if all you do is spam? Then yea…bad). Unfortunately, nobody cares. Only you know your book and your work better than anyone else, right? Sure, people such as myself (I focus on branding and social media) or a publicist will help you. But you must make the effort! I’m not sure why authors feel they are exempt from marketing and promotion. If you want no sales, by all means, follow that path.
Tip: One way to enter the fray of promotion is to copromote with others. (Run promotions together, giveaways, contests, or simply mention each other on your Amazon page.) This creates buzz in a slightly more passive way.
- I don’t know what I don’t know so I won’t do anything. There definitely is a learning curve when it comes to marketing a book. Most authors are writers, not marketers! And that’s okay; you don’t have to be. People are innately curious about any creative type of person, in my experience. What drives us? Where do we draw inspiration? Coffee or tea?
What’s important to remember here is realizing that you are your brand. If people like you, they’ll buy your book (doesn’t mean they’ll like your writing – that’s another column). And when I say ‘like,’ I don’t mean they want to put you in their pocket and carry you around because that would be weird. Say you’re controversial, unlikable even; people tend to be curious about you and want to know more (think Howard Stern or Ann Coulter).
Also, think about this: in high school, if you didn’t know something, what did you do? You asked someone. That someone, now, in this digital world, is Google. Or books, blogs, or social media. Social media is a terrific way to find answers to your questions.
Action is more difficult than inaction. Writers are often lazy when it comes to marketing and promotion. It’s easier to keep writing (which is good – always keep writing). But realize that building it doesn’t mean anyone will come — without signs and advertising.
- I can’t afford to advertise my book. Nope, I don’t buy it. Google AdWords can cost as little as .15cents per keyword. You can opt to go the ‘display’ route if your book is particularly visual, so you show up on frequently visited sites (like YouTube). Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter all offer ads. Even most book bloggers have reasonable packages.
Bottom line: you can afford advertising. It’s the type of ads you want to do that is your only limiting factor (except of course for budget). Here’s what I tell my author friends and clients: can you afford that Starbucks pumpkin latte with mint chip whip cream and blah blah? Do your hips a favor and quit. Put that money toward your book ads instead.
Or if you really don’t have a few bucks to spend each month on ads, start looking into guest blogger opportunities, invite others to write on your blog, set up interviews, do a reasonably priced blog tour. There are numerous options to help get the word out.
- It’s easier and cheaper just to spam my book links on social media. Tell me this: do you like receiving nothing but spam? How about an automated menu that takes you fifteen minutes to reach a real person? No. You don’t.
Then stop spamming people with repeated links to your books. It’s self-serving and does not help you. So, what to do instead? Look for readers — use Twitter’s Search or Advanced Search function, Google, Bing, etc. Look for genre. See who follows other authors in similar genres. Connect with authors to promote each other. Find local organizations or bookstores. Think outside the box!
That wasn’t too painful, was it?
- I hate Twitter and Facebook. I don’t care about friends from high school. The beauty is, you don’t have to — so get over it. This is why Facebook Pages is your tool for promotion – not a personal account (if you’re using your personal account to promote your book, they can close your account).
Pick one site that’s easier for you, and stick with it. I find Twitter to be the most interactive for me, but once I gave Facebook a real chance, it’s become incredibly useful as a way to interact directly with readers and authors.
Unless you’re super celeb with unlimited funds, you’re got to make the effort to learn. Keep in mind: Google+ business pages can actually help you achieve a higher Google page rank.
- Don’t forget visual media. Depending on your demographic, sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube can be incredibly rich sources to mine readers.
Again, don’t simply post pictures of you your own book. In fact, Instagram and Pinterest explicitly state in their guidelines to share content about others. So…share interesting content.
Actively build a well-rounded base and people will come. But for goodness sake, take responsibility for your own book marketing.
Ultimately your sales depend on you.
I’d love to hear about your experiences and what has worked. Please share below.
Have questions? Post them here, and I’ll answer them in next month’s column!
Want more information on social media, branding, and book marketing? Follow me on Twitter @BadRedheadMedia or @RachelintheOC, Facebook, or check out my site BadRedheadMedia.com for blog posts to help you achieve your goals.
About Rachel Thompson
I’m a chick who writes stuff that makes you laugh. My book A Walk In The Snark hit #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list this past September (do you think they know I talk about sex? Shhh.). It’s since hit about oh, I’ve lost count. #woot! I’ve been nominated for Funniest Blog, Best Humor Writer & Redhead Who Makes A Killer Dirty Martini (okay, I made the last one up, but it’s true. Honest.).
I released The Mancode: Exposed right after Thanksgiving 2011 and by January, it placed in the Amazon Top 100 Paid!
Two books of snarky goodness, baby.
I’ve been told I write in the style of that Dickens guy. Kidding.
I’m a mom, a wife, and a recovering pharmaceuticals rep. It’s been a long process, but I’m doing okay, thanks.
I also used to sell Trojan-brand condoms. Yeah, it’s hilarious, I know. I did it for three years way back when, and I was their top salesperson in the Western Region, a dubious honor at best. My number-one customer was the Mustang Ranch. No, seriously. The Mustang Ranch. I couldn’t make stuff like that up.
The experience definitely gave me insights into the… er… ins and outs of men.
So it should come as no great surprise that I write about how men (The Mancode) and women (Chickspeak) approach most things differently. And since I did, in fact, grow past my Trojan days (in more ways than one or–insert your own joke here), I’ve thrown in a few tidbits about marriage, kids, being a mom, living in the OC (ya know-being a pale redhead living in a sea of blondes), coffee, and vodka. Not necessarily in that order, depending on the day.
Don’t read my books to find advice about how to be sweet or nice. I’m pretty much allergic to both of those words. Actually don’t read this book for advice on anything. (My lawyer made me put that in just in case you know, you thought I could save your marriage or something – not).
Or if you are looking for some light, heartfelt humor in everyday life (Erma Bombeck-style), well, I’m really not your girl, either. Nothin’ homespun about the Queen of Snark, baby. Mostly I just laugh at stuff and make up words (See “Refrigeratoritis and Manesia.”) Yet somehow it all seems to work.
And don’t call me cute. (Hint: Babies and puppies are cute. Grown women are soooo not.)
Special note to men: I write frequently about “The Mancode”–like how you guys do goofy stuff and we women try, and often fail, to understand. (Um, change the toilet paper roll much? Yeah, that’s what I thought.) If that offends your sensibilities, this may not be the book for you. Yeah, I’m crushed.
Like everyone, I’ve also had some rough times. I share those with you, too. Life can’t always be martinis and beaches. Wait, this is the OC (Orange County, CA, for those of you from Canada, or people on the East Coast who don’t know California beyond LA). Naw, not even here.*
You can find articles written exclusively for the San Francisco Book Review and Sacramento Book Review in their monthly publications and on their website.