I’ve been asked quite a bit about marketing for authors since I have a marketing background. Please note, before reading on, that I’m nowhere near the success level I want to be. But, if you look at the time it’s taken me to achieve the results I have, you’ll probably see why I feel I can speak on this subject a bit.
I began writing my first novel November 2012. It is now June 2015 and have had three books that have reached top 100 on Amazon (as paid) in their category. I have over 3500 fans on my fan page and over 2000 followers on Twitter. My work has been recognized by an award winning film director for one novel and a producer for another and I’ve been a paid guest author.
The most important thing is that my sales and readership is on a steady and continuous upward growth. So, I want to share (candidly) what I’ve tried and my opinion on it as someone who has a marketing and business background.
I’ve probably attended about a dozen conventions in the last 3 years (perhaps more). Everything from the uber small to the mega size (Phoenix ComiCon) Each convention has truly been different. Here’s my take on it, they’re fun to attend to, but I wouldn’t pay for a booth as an author. My recommendation is to find a book seller to have your books at and try to arrange book signing times only if you are a panelist at said convention. The more panels, the better – for both you and the convention.
If you’re a small-time author like me and you’re at a larger convention (like Phoenix ComiCon or San Diego Comic Con or B.E.A.) then prepare to do a ton of giveaways to get your name out there. Figure, for every 500 free items you’ll receive about 10 responses. This is where you want to promote social media as a priority and your book as secondary.
This sounds weird, right? Here’s the thing. At a large convention, you’re in a sea of celebrities and important people and a mess of a crowd. Postcards — you might as well throw away your money. Things that work are things people can use. I had Team Zombie stickers made up with my website in small print on the sticker. By the end of the weekend I saw several people with my stickers on their phone and iPads. I also created excerpts booklets and slid them inside a plastic sleeve with a free pen. Something like this is more likely to get pulled out of a mess of the freebie postcards and stuff that make it to the bottom of the bag.
All these things cost money. Especially when you factor in parking, food, hotel in some cases, etc. If you’re on a tight budget, this is probably something that should go to the bottom of your list. If you’re a tie-in author with role playing games, etc – this might be a little better, but I’m speaking strictly on fiction authors like myself.
There’s a world of difference between a book signing in a big city and a book signing in a small town. If I get invited to a book signing locally I’ll most likely attend because it doesn’t cost me anything, but I don’t actively pursue them. I’ve had more success in small towns than larger ones because a small town is limited on activities they have and their residents will be looking for events… like a book signing.
Every new author seems to want to do a book signing at a Barnes & Noble – but if you’re a new author without much of a following, then this can hurt you. Nothing is worse than sitting at a table at Barnes and Noble watching people walk by looking at every book in the store except yours. I’ve had authors boast about their book sales of 10 books at a B&N but this isn’t a good thing. You’re devaluing yourself and you won’t grow a loyal readership that way.
Book Launch Parties
If you have a great sphere of influence and a large circle of people that will attend, then go for it. However, this isn’t the case for most people.
Online Book Launch
These are free and anyone can attend. It also takes less time and dedication to do one of these and I highly recommend it.
Blog tours are a great way to get reviews and quotes for your book. It also creates a back link which will boost your Google rankings. Why? The more sites that are linking to your website and/or blog the higher you’ll rank in Google search. This is always a good thing.
The most important thing about marketing is you can’t expect all the results to look the same. Most authors go into marketing with one thing in mind ; book sales. You need to go in thinking — how is this gaining exposure and is it worth it?
Facebook and Twitter
Facebook, finally, has become more helpful in the marketing department without paying an arm and a leg. 1. you should have a fan page. I’ve had authors ask what’s better, a personal page, a group, or a fan page. Without a doubt, you absolutely need a fan page. A Facebook group is not meant for promotions – it’s meant for discussions around a subject matter. Now, there are groups on Facebook specifically for an author created by fans – but if you’re at that point, then you shouldn’t be bothering with my blog post here.
A personal page is very limiting – (I’m hoping you’re aiming for more than 5,000 fans? Because your personal page has a friend limit of 5,000) Also, a fan page lets you view algorithms and how your page is doing. Everything from the demographics of your fans to to when they’re online and which one of your posts get the most views and likes. This is all included and you should be using this.
Twitter is a great place for authors because authors and book lovers are always tweeting and retweeting their favorite books, quotes, etc.
We talked about Facebook, Twitter, blog tours, etc – but what about people that aren’t attached to their social media account or even those that just don’t see everything you post? You need to be able to reach out to them. I try to send an email once a month to my list, but I would never send more than one every two weeks.
I try to include free ‘after the The End” in my email newsletter so that my readers have an incentive to sign up. Something extra that they aren’t getting normally. (think interviews, FAQ, Q&A, Cover release, etc)
There’s a lot of email marketing companies out there but my favorite is AWeber. You can try it out for free using the banner right below. And then, of course, you can subscribe to my email list through http://www.theaccidentalwriter.com
Powered by AWeber
Do you have any specific questions regarding marketing I haven’t covered? Post them in the comments!
- Have a fan page on Facebook, post regularly
- Have a Twitter handle (optional)
- Have an email marketing campaign (through AWeber)
- Set up a blog tour (You can Google blog tours in your genre and then email authors that hosted on that blog tour to see what their review of said tour)
- Have a media kit (in both print and digital)
- Host an online book launch (look at how other authors have done this)
- Follow your favorite authors to see what they do!
- Reach out to other authors to see what they’re doing
- Be courteous!
- Don’t ignore your readers. If you receive fan mail, thank them. If someone helps market your book – thank them! If a reader comments on your fan page how much they adore you, don’t just *like* their comment, respond!