How many of you dread marketing your book?
If you’re like most authors, writing is a blast and marketing is…well, not so much fun. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
This past week I attended my first Realm Makers Conference and boy did I learn a lot about marketing. The biggest takeaway for me was something one of the speakers said:
It’s not marketing but relationship building.-Caleb Breakey
When you choose to think of it like that, marketing isn’t so bad. It’s less about shameless and constant self promotion and can become an authentic relationship with both parities benefiting.
So let’s dive into some of the marketing basics!
*Disclaimer: These takeaways are a compilation of Michael Anderle’s sessions Roadmap for the Indie Author/Publishers and Caleb Breakey’s sessions The Book Funnel Method. For the full classes, check out Realm Makers recordings or go to next year’s 2022 conference to learn more.
Why are marketing and platform important?
It doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally published, indie published, self published, or not published yet, marketing is important for every author. Gone are the days when publishers did all the marketing work for you. Now, you have to market yourself. The way to do that is by growing your platform.
People throw out the term “platform” a lot. But what exactly does it mean and why is there so much buzz around it?
The definition of platform has evolved. It used to be platform = the size of your followers on a given social media site and/or your email.
Today, it’s about more than just numbers. According to Caleb B. platform is actually:
“People you can reach at the click of a button who know, like, and trust you.”
By that definition, you can have 100K followers on Instagram, but if only 1K of them actually engage with you, your platform is only 1K on Instagram.
Having a platform as an author is important because we’re a distracted culture. We’ve busy. Things constantly clamor for our attention. The larger and more engaged our platform is, the easier it will be to get people to buy our books.
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about platform, let’s look at ways to grow our platform.
What’s your strategy?
As you think about how to grow your platform, use this formula developed by Caleb B.
- Tracking data
First, what are your assets? For the published author, this is your books.
For the unpublished author, this could be short stories or you may not have any assets yet. Never fear, you can and should still be growing your platform but it might look a little different than a published author. Don’t be discouraged. You actually have an incredible gift. You have the gift of time. Without deadlines and obligations from your publishers, use this time to think through your marketing strategy and how to best build relationship with your future readers.
Pipeline– how are people finding you? This can be email, social media, ads, etc.
Relationships- this is your fans! How many people want to engage with you as an author?
Tracking data- how are you measuring what you’re doing? Are you trying new things? Are you seeing if they work? If you blindly attempt different things without understanding why they did or didn’t work, you’ll miss valuable insights about your readers. TRACK EVERYTHING.
Your strategy, as listed above will never change. You should always be working on those four components but your tactics will almost certainly change. Tactics are things like advertising on FB or Amazon. As you experiment with these and find out what’s working, you can shift your tactics.
But before we dive into tactics and pipeline, let’s talk a little bit about the fun part of marketing…
Build relationships with your fans!
We puts lots of thought and effort into planning our books. Why don’t we put the same energy into building a relationship with our readers?
We have to treat every reader like a first date.-Caleb Breakey
I love the analogy Caleb gives of buying your reader coffee. If you walk into Starbucks, go up to a stranger and say, “Hi, I’m a writer! Want to buy my book?” You’re going to get a weird look and probably a hard no.
But if you go to Starbucks, offer to buy a stranger their coffee, talk to them, get to know them, and only then bring up you’re an author, you are much more likely to have success.
The point being, you can’t just sell stuff all the time.
People scroll past countless promotional Instagram posts. They stop opening emails that do nothing more than sell your books. They grow fatigued of every interaction with you being a sales pitch.
How can you give to your reader before selling?
This is a question you need to ask yourself.
It’s the reason we get conflicting messages about email marketing. Some say it’s dead while others say it’s hugely important. It can be dead if you use it poorly and it can be invaluable if you use it right. The difference being, how are you treating your fans?
We’ll dive into email marketing best practices next week in the follow up post, but the same principle applies to all of your marketing.
What value are you adding to your audience? How well do you know them?
Are you too busy talking about yourself to understand your fans? Do you know why they follow you? What they fear? What they are passionate about? What their hobbies are?
Once you know this, it becomes much easier to delight and surprise your fans. And when you do that, you’re on your way to meaningful relationships and building a platform that will last.
Here’s a few examples of ways you can engage and delight your fans:
- Poll your fans on different cover art designs. Which one do your fans love most and why? Bringing them into your decision making process makes them feel involved in your publishing journey.
- Give away free stuff! Consider teaming up with several authors and doing a giveaway.
- Have some of your fans edit part of your book and give them credit. It will make them feel heard and proud to be co-collaborators.
- Offer a free course to a niche group within your fans. Maybe it’s encouraging and empowering teen writers. Maybe it’s a zoom call to help aspiring writers figure out the querying basics. Maybe it’s simply passing on your grandma’s incredible chocolate chip recipe with the bakers in your group. It could be anything!
Treat your fans like honored guests.
At the end of the day, your readers chose you. Getting to know them now will help you immensely in the next part of marketing: advertising. Part two of this post will be all about how to do advertising well and deep diving into some of the different tactics you can use to market your book. Stay tuned.
In the meantime here’s a few resources for you.
Recommended books on marketing:
- 1000 True Fans
- Who Not How
- Draft to Digital
- Click Funnels
- Dot.com Secrets
- Expert Secrets
- Traffic Secrets
- For the aspiring author: work on your assets! Get your book written, edited and ready to go! That’s the most important job you have. In addition to that, be thinking about pipeline and how you plan to reach your future readers. Do you have a website and one social media platform you’re working to build? If not, set one up. If so, great! Now start understanding your readers better and creating content that will give first.
- For the published author: brainstorm 5 ways to delight and surprise your fans. Then go do one of them!
Candace signing off to go buy more books on marketing and figure out how to explain to her husband that, once again, she’s bought more books. 😛