DIY Book Marketing
The landscape of selling and promoting books is littered with advice, often in conflict with itself and often with strong opinions. Frankly, there’s a lot of ways of doing things right, but keep in mind that what works for one author or book may not work for you and your books.
So how the heck do you know what to do to get your work discovered and, just maybe, make a living with as an author?
Experiment. Be flexible. Be curious. Be willing to work at it.
DIY Book Marketing is all about giving you ideas to help grow your readership. Some may work and some will show no traction at all. But I’ll let you in on a secret. If you try out a strategy that doesn’t work, you’ve just gotten smarter on how to market YOUR work. The process of elimination helps your focus on what’s working and cut out the time-wasting tactics that just aren’t for you.
It’s going to be hard work. It’s a job for writers who are too stubborn to give up.
Previous posts have covered:
Now let’s discuss Added Value. This is when you give readers something extra, at no charge or obligation. Doesn’t even have to come bundled with the book. Added value gives your readers and fans something of value to them beyond the product itself.
Here are a few ideas in relation to books:
- Did you have character bios for your novel? Sketches? Fans love to see how you created the people and locations depicted in your work.
- Did you have a list of websites you frequented for research on your novel’s subject or locations? Imagine if you had this coveted list from your favorite author from their latest book.
- Mystery novel? Have fun and give readers a clue tally sheet. Let them know how many clues they should identify per chapter and see if they can find them. Can they solve the crime before your hero?
- Some authors create social media accounts or websites for their characters. Fans love getting tweets from their favorite characters or reading blog posts set in your novel’s world. A great example plays out in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes. In the show, John Watson writes a popular blog outlining the events of each case. The smart producers of this show have the blog – in character – online for fans to read and comment, extending the enjoyment of the show. Harry Potter fans will be familiar with Pottermore which lets you feel you are part of the magical world which didn’t end with book 7, but is a story still playing out in real-time.
- Writing journals or plot outlines are also great content to share with fans. The messier the better, because it shows the thought and effort you put into your work. Fans get to see how the threads of the plot came together and how you overcame plot shifts and writing blocks. Here’s a sample from Sue Grafton.
Your website or blog, and point of sales program features like Shelfari are natural sites to share and promote this content. If you want to bundle the goods, consider creating a free ebook with easy download from a self publishing site or as a PDF on your website.
Book marketing is as individual as your fingerprint.
If you find an obstacle or the task proves impossible, learn from it, adjust the path, and move on. That sounds a little like a plot twist, doesn’t it?
You have to look at the interests of your readers, take note of the content they like and adjust. Don’t keep pounding away at the same type of content or tactic if no one is responding.
Here are the results of a few of my own experiments:
- Looking at Twitter Analytics, I noted the times when I had the most engagement, then sent all of my scheduled tweets the next day at the exact same time. I got a positive hit on about 70% of the tweets. Then I looked at the content that followers liked and did more of that. It was about 50%. Then I refocused the best content at the best time (based on analytics) and got engagement on every one. At the same time I connected with new folks who I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I really enjoy what they have to say with their content. I’ve also discovered that I have more than one audience. Some love books, some want to know more about writing and selling books, some love social media tips, and the last group are art lovers. Networking and conversation is how readers find you.
- Giving away free copies does not work for my books. Also, having played with various price points I have discovered the “what the market will bear” pricing for my specific novels. If you adjust price points as I did, be willing to live with that price for 3+ months. You have to establish a buying pattern before you know if the price is working or not. Plus, you don’t want to appear fickle by your future fans by having a different price every time they look back to consider buying.
- Activity = book sales. When I’m active on social media my brand and my writing is being actively discovered. My social media mix is this Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. I have a page on Goodreads, but it seems to have a life of its own so I pretty much leave it alone.
Consider how using Added Value & experimenting can help you market your books more effectively.
If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing and by all means share your thoughts and insights.
Thanks for hanging out with me.