A Simplified Plan For Marketing Books

Marketing books is not as simple as some of the experts make it out to be. There is a lot of work to do behind the scenes before it goes live. But, the work doesn’t end there. Once your book is made available to the public, it’s time to grow sales. You need to market and advertise it through the proper channels.

I have been a marketer all of my life. From food to fashion to beauty products, I marketed everything that came my way. I was already an expert Amazon seller for consumer products. But, when it came time to sell my first book, I learned that it was a different story.

The book business has changed dramatically. Thank you, Amazon, for disrupting yet another world.

The funny thing is, the big publishing houses have not quite caught on to these changes. Perhaps they are just resisting change. It doesn’t matter; the change has already happened.

This change is remarkably positive for both authors and consumers. Unfortunately, the big publishing houses are stuck in their old ways. They don’t know how to market books.

They know how to take high profile authors and get stacks of books into brick and mortar stores. But when it comes to anything else, they are clueless.

So How Do The Big Authors Market Their Books?

If you aren’t a celebrity author like James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, the publishers can’t figure out how to market your book.

How much marketing do you have to do when Hillary Clinton writes a book? It’s going to sell based on name recognition alone. In truth, when you are a big name author, the press does the bulk of the work for you.

For the rest of us mere mortals, it’s not so simple. When you are a self-published or first-time writer, how do you market your book?

That was my question, also. So, I wrote a book to find out.

Here is what I learned:

Set the Foundation and Have a Goal

What role do you want your book to serve? Are you trying to be recognized as the next literary genius? Or, are you writing for pure enjoyment?

Once you know what you want your book to achieve, you can determine a path to marketing it. When writing your book, you are already writing to a specific audience. That information will come in handy later on when you develop your plan.

The Book Title and Cover Are Important

Everyone’s heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But, guess what? Everyone does it anyway. A large part of the success of marketing books is on the cover and in the title.

The title has to catch the attention of the searcher. It also needs to be compelling enough for them to look deeper. Your title should contain at least one of the keywords that would drive searchers to your book.

The cover art also needs to be appealing. Spend a bit of time looking at some of the prominent selling books in your genre and check out their covers. Use this as a guide to give your designer.

Book Marketing Steps Before You Launch

Much of the success of marketing books happens before the book even launches. You have to develop a plan of action and execute that plan correctly to be successful. Of course, plans will always be flexible, but the core never changes.

Create a Promotion Plan

Marketing books successfully does not happen overnight unless you are famous and can get a lot of press.  If you can afford to hire a PR agency to get your book publicity, go for it.  There is nothing better.

For most of us, that is not the case. It requires a lot of work over an extended period. At least a year, if not longer. Have patience, be flexible and pay attention to the results.

You need to lay out a plan for what actions you are going to take when you are going to take them, and how much money you are going to spend.

Much of what I learned about book marketing is that the right advertising in the right channels at the right time is what will ultimately drive your sales.

Set Up A Website

Every author should always have a website. Today, websites are so simple and inexpensive to set up; there is no excuse not to have one.

You don’t need a site for every book you write. You need a website for you, the author. On this website, you can create content about yourself, describe your books, and provide a place for buyers to learn more about you.

Optimize the website with content about yourself and your book that would not be allowed on the bookselling sites. Amazon has an author page, and it is essential, but the amount of content you can put on the page is limited.

Having a site enables you to take advantage of Google search for your specific genre of book. In this way, your website becomes a platform on which you can engage with those users interested in your book.

Social Media is Important

Social Media is a powerful tool for authors marketing books. Setup Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

There are book groups on these social media platforms that would be interested in your book. You can post information about your book and where to buy it once you have launched.

These are also low-cost, highly-targeted advertising platforms that link to both the author’s website and the bookselling platforms.

Get Reviews Lined Up

Develop a pre-launch review list and guarantee that at least 20 people are committed to reviewing your book on the day it goes live on Amazon. This list can be friends and family. I cannot stress the importance of this step.

No one wants to be the first to review a book. Most people don’t want to buy a book or product without some reviews. Using friends and family will help to build a foundation for sales and gathering other reviews.

You want these reviewers to actually buy the book so they can submit Verified Purchase reviews.

Amazon will also accept a limited number of “Advance Copy” reviews. So have up to five people commit to placing advance copy reviews on the launch morning.

Advanced Copy reviews are not Verified Purchases. Because of this, Amazon limits the number of these reviews allowed.

List Your Book On Many Book Promotion Sites

There are thousands of book promotion sites available to authors. Determine the best ones for your genre. Lay out a schedule for where and how you are going to promote your book.

Marketing books require a mix of free and paid advertising over 6 to 9 months. Very few books take off like a rocket. In fact, the average book sells 250 units in its first year.

That number is surprisingly low. But once I studied the channel, I realized it is a result of not having a book marketing plan.

Develop Your Author Pages

There are Author Pages on the bookselling sites and all of the book promotion sites. There are thousands of promotion sites. Determine the best ones for your genre and set up an author page. The more places the author appears with links to the website and the selling platforms, the more opportunities there are to sell.

Explainer Video’s Are Great

Short 30 to 60-second explainer videos are a great medium to express why people need to read your book. You can use these videos on the website, bookselling sites, and social media.

With today’s technology and sites like Fiverr, it is possible to get a video completed fast and inexpensively.

Book Marketing Launch Steps

List your book on Amazon Kindle, Amazon Print on Demand, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes and any other site you can get it listed for sale in either a digital or print-on-demand format. Amazon is the most important, but the others play a role in accessibility and visibility of your book.

You want to spend some time developing a keyword optimized book description that you will use across all platforms. The consistency of your book description and author bio on all of the selling platforms is essential. Creating a solid bio and description simplifies things since you only have to develop them once.

Audiobooks are Worth the Trouble

Convert your book to an Audiobook and list it on Audible and iTunes. If you have the time and the ability, record the reading yourself. Books read by the author always rate higher.

But, if you can’t do it, you can hire people to read from as little as $50 per 10,000 words to over $250 per 10,000. The price depends on who the reader is and their skill level.

Converting your book to an audiobook is another opportunity to sell and expose your book to a significant and growing audience.

Never Stop Getting Reviews

Marketing books or any product is driven by reviews. Buyers today are trained to read reviews before making a purchase.

Your long-term goal is to get over 100 Verified Purchase reviews.

Unfortunately, unlike products on Amazon, you cannot see or contact who purchased your book. It would be nice if you could expect every purchaser — or even half of the purchasers — to leave a review. But, that isn’t the case. You can expect to get one review for every 20 books you sell.

This process requires some hard work.

The most effective way of acquiring new reviewers is to manually sift through people who have left reviews on similar books to your own. Reach out and ask them if they will review yours. There are services available that will create these lists for you, for a fee that will make things easier.

Even with this targetted approach, you will need to contact 1,000 reviewers to get 100 reviews. Keep in mind: these reviewers are going to give honest reviews.

Stage Your Promotions

Promote your book on at least 20 book promotion sites. Book promotion sites drive sales and downloads, which improves the ranking of your book. As your ranking improves, your book shows up higher in the search. The higher it appears, the more chances you have to sell.

Time your promotions wisely. You should have at least one promotion running per week after you have launched. Part of the secret to marketing books is consistency over the long term.

Measure the results of every promotion. Repeat the promotions on the sites that have the best results. Keep promoting every week during the first year.

Many of these promotion sites charge between $50 to $100 per promotion, so you are not spending tens of thousands of dollars. It is very manageable. The key is to check your results and focus your efforts on the sites that deliver the best return.

Amazon Marketing Services

Set up Sponsored Products and Product Display Ad campaigns in Amazon Marketing Services. These will trigger off of both keywords and specific competitor books.

It is essential to know what is happening around you on Amazon. You have to know who your competitors are, what keywords they are targetting, and what categories they are trying to rank. All of this information is available on their product pages. You just have to look for it.

None of these tasks are ever over. If you are serious about selling your book and reaching your goals, you have to be consistent with your marketing after your book has been released.

As you reach sales milestones, have your cover redone to add starbursts pointing out “Over xx thousand downloads” or “Over 100 x star reviews.” These badges of honor will only further boost your marketing as they add value to your product. The beauty of controlling your own product listing on Amazon and other sites is that you can update it quickly.

Pay attention to the keywords that are working for you. Go back and improve your book description and author page to include these keywords to strengthen your listing even more.

Marketing books is not easy. The good news is that it takes more work than it does money to get it off the ground. If you establish your goals and have a clear-cut concept of what you are looking to achieve with your book, you will know what path to take.

Use these simple tips to market your book, and you will see the results you want to achieve.