You’ve released your latest book, after waiting years. And, have as yet to market it. This is not a plague you feature independently . . . the fact is, most authors who release new titles have some drag concerning their marketing portfolio. There doesn’t seem to be one reason for this, more like a myriad of potential causes. So you may ask yourself:
Why don’t authors market?
Typically, it seems most authors don’t market because a) they don’t know how to market, b) understand or learn how to market but lack self-confidence or have a sense of modesty that involves the ideal marketing is adverse to true readership (when your writing is good enough readers flock to your books), c) you have a publisher and they are the missing ingredient to make your title soar, d) you lack the time it takes to market or e) you’ve tried marketing it didn’t work – sales are not good and that is just how it is going to be. These sound like legitimate reasons to market . . . let’s look at them and resolve each one-by-one.
a) Number 1: You don’t know what to do to market your title . . .
Everyone who has a best-seller today at one time – did not know how to market a book. That is the ultimate fact to resonate with. Every best-seller in recorded history had a year, month, week, day or hour of not knowing how to “sell” or even “why to sell.” So get over it! You are in with a good bunch of folks now – best-sellers – basically everyone who has written a book at some time started out as naive as you may feel – whether this is your first title or not. If you have multiple releases and haven’t marketed – the information being shared here is as important as if you are a debut author.
The differentiator between best-sellers and every other title is . . . the best-selling author figured out “How to Market” their book. They learned to “Sell.” Even if it appears from an observational standpoint these titles are lauded for the greatness of the work, which may be true as well, the fact is there was a time no one knew about their book except them, their printer and their publisher. Of course, if they have a series, such as “Harry Potter” we are talking about their first book not the leather bound special edition of books I through V.
Albeit this story is not “a book” titled “How to Market a Book” it does contain allowed snippets from, “Book Marketing in a Post-Modern World” with only high-end points highlighted . . . just quick snapshots as it were. So how does one learn to market? It stands to reason, in order to market, the first element involved is learning “how to market.” Writers need to know what best-selling authors know. They need to learn the reasons some books soar and others bomb. And, assuming it costs a fortune is not necessarily true.
Initially, the easiest aspect in learning to market your book is to conduct research regarding how “others” have marketed theirs. One idea is to look up best-selling authors and go on a fact-finding mission. Review best-selling title websites. Review overall search engine results – note keywords used. Review events planning and news items. Review distribution channels where the works are listed for sale. If able, find the public relations team – oftentimes they are listed in contact information. If they don’t have one, find the answers to: Who their webmaster is? Or who produces their marketing materials? The results of these questions may lead you to additional resources to research. Knowing how a best-selling author’s webmaster identifies their clients or how their production team develops advertising copy can aid an emerging author in gaining recognition.
Another resource is the Internet in general. Search for “How to market a book!” because the Internet is “RICH” with marketing tidbits and pointers most websites regarding book marketing feature a fair amount of “free” resources. Take advantage of them – venture forth – divide and conquer – get those free resources and follow them. There’s also the library where a myriad of “How to Market a Book” titles reside. If you are a writer – a library card is a given – so use it to research book marketing.
Also, review local book publicity pages in your newspapers, town flyers, and county publications. Find out where are new books being accepted locally and then reach out to those venues and ask how to be included. If there is some recoil at a debut book by a debut author – give them a free copy or send them a free PDF of your title if your budget is too tight. Or share a marketing kit with a host of reviews, a book cover, a professional image of yourself, a synopsis and bio with information on how to contact you or your publisher.
Now you are on your way to understanding how to market your book – and you are probably nervous about doing so, which leads us to “b”.
b) You have learned how to market but lack self-confidence or have a sense of modesty and believe marketing is adverse to a true readership based on good writing . . .
Many artisans believe their art should create an audience by the very nature of its creation. Artists (watercolors, oils, composites, etc.) often hesitate to “advertise artwork.” There’s an encampment of artists who believe it cheapens their work to market for sales. The term, “Starving artist” didn’t arrive from just anywhere. The same is true for writers. Writers do believe readers will gravitate to their work without their waiving it in the air declaring, “Buy my book its great!” However, in today’s world, books are a dime a dozen regardless of skill or merit. With digital resources, and the seemingly downward spiral of traditional publishers, becoming recognized is not what it used to be. For example, there are literally billions of books listed on AMAZON and each genre features millions.
The fact remains – you wrote a book to be read. And, the act of writing comes with the belief someone wants to read your work. So, it is essential to get the book in front of readers and to do this takes marketing. So . . . do you just lack self-confidence? Afraid you’ll blunder? Say the wrong thing? Not look the part? Writing a book takes passion or at the very least determination! So take your feelings of passion and will of determination and promote your work through marketing. You can and will do this. And, as far as readers gravitating to your book due to its sheer wisdom, humor, grandiose creativity, etc. To do so they have to know your work exists! It exists! Let your readers know by marketing!
c) You have a publisher and they are the missing ingredient that will make your title soar . . .
While a publisher is good for many things – it is not a promissory to a best-seller. Publishers build book sales, plan and manage promotional programs, work with marketing and design professionals to create advertisements, direct marketing campaigns and other communications material; publish excerpts online; arrange interviews; encourage authors to write opinion pieces for publication and/or to participate in promotional events (i.e.: book fairs, seminars and book store signings). Publishers do not guarantee sales.
And, publishers come in all shapes and sizes featuring these main considerations:
Scholarly or Academic
Self-Publishing, which also features:
- Scholarly and
Among these digital copies absorbed 30% of sales in 2014 and this means more Internet marketing than not. However, the first one-half of 2014, more print copies sold than digital, which actually took a dip. Modern publishers believe it’s a lot more profitable to spend time marketing books and driving sales to online locations, not bookstores who just return unsold copies anyway. Neither guarantee best-sellers. They do have valued information for placing books and targeting the marketplace in a more grandiose manner. And, their market is ever-changing. One tool used today may become obsolete in the near future – if your publisher seems to switch it up often regarding promotions – it might not be they are unaware – it might be they are changing with a moving landscape.
Don’t rely on the publisher making your book famous. They want your book to sell – if it does – they do more. If it doesn’t – they do the bare minimum unless you are infusing your publisher with determination to do more. The best thing with your publisher is to keep them as your friend. Publishers close business operations at 50% per annum. Yes, one-half of all publishers close their doors annually. If your publisher is keeping theirs open – something is going right. One thing is certain, if you make the publisher your enemy – you are going to hurt your sales – in such a competitive market what publisher wants to market a title or author who makes them regret signing them in the first place. There is an element of the literary career where writers feel they need to be aggressive with their publisher and this is really the manner most publishers work best with authors. Every best-seller features an author with a good association with their publisher – this doesn’t mean they don’t quibble – it does mean they are on the same page at the end of the day. Best-selling authors aren’t writing their reading public negative commentary about their publisher, publicist, promotions team, co-authors, etc. Actually, best-selling authors focus on positivity and title recognition in the affirmative and that results in sales.
d) You lack the time it takes to market . . .
This is the most logical reason not to market but it is the easiest one to overcome. We are all tremendously busy . . . each of us have career, family, civic duties, home, hearth, recreation, groups, memberships, church or seminars, pets, hobbies, etc. and that is just the beginning! Our world is full of busyness . . . it goes without saying. So what is the remedy?
Logic. This marketing stumbling block is easily overcome based on sheer logic. You wrote a book and it took time but you made the time to do that. Well, take that time and turn it into marketing time. Even if you cannot extend a lot of time you can generate 20 to 30 minutes each day for building your marketing plan and executing it.
Answer your most important questions and then commence to resolve them with solutions. Begin brainstorming and then . . . perform, perform, perform. Invest in your sales planning by marketing and using the time you used to write to market. Invest in you! Invest in your book!
e) The cut my losses syndrome – you’ve tried marketing it didn’t work – sales are not good and that is just how it is going to be . . .
David Schwartz, author of The Magic of Thinking Big, calls this line of thinking: “Excusitis” or the ability to always find a reason not to do something. Donna L. Quesinberry, this National Writing Examiner columnist, suggests implementation of what she refers to as “The Stickability Factor” or the ability to make a dogged determination to do something and see it through to the end. In the land of books and their sales, you need to have “The Stickability Factor” because “Excusitis” you cannot recover from.
You made a plan, followed it, marketed to target segments, gave them products with discounts, identified distributors, went on talk radio, had some notoriety in the news, a number of magazine and other articles have been written, you’ve held book launches, parties, giveaways, contests, created merchandise, distributed fact and sell sheets, etc. with little to no success? It is time then to make a new plan, follow it, market to target segments, etc. And, do this until sales improve. If nothing else, you’ll hone your expertise for your next effort.
Finally, when is it time to begin marketing your book?
Yesterday . . . last year . . . while you were still writing . . . three years ago . . . or when you got the idea to write a book. Marketing isn’t a sin – it is a writer’s privilege. And, it is as essential to a title’s success as writing.
Ms. D. L. Quesinberry, National Writing Examiner columnist appreciates you for taking time to read this story. There is a “button” on the page here for “subscribing.” Push it and “subscribe.” I’ll be very happy to know you’ll return again in the future.
Quote: There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges. ~Ernest Hemingway