Marketing is a subject so misunderstood that many authors find themselves demoralized when they post a Facebook ad and don’t magically wind up on the bestseller’s list. Little do they know, marketing is a layered and complex process, I mean, people go to college to learn this stuff!
Case in point, author James Patterson, one of Forbes highest paid authors, was the vice president of a marketing firm before becoming an author. Do you think this multi-time bestselling author’s success was a fluke? Hardly!
Now despite what you may have heard, advertising and book reviews alone are not marketing. Marketing consists of production, distribution and sales. Let’s break this down:
- Book marketing actually begins when an author chooses a genre or topic to write about. The more popular the genre, the better your chances of selling well.
- Another important aspect is packaging, by creating a book cover and interior that is competitive with what’s on the market, you increase your odds of success.
- Distribution: you need to get your book to as many people as possible to get lots of sales. Many authors are going to Amazon, the largest online retailer to give their book the best shot at reaching as many readers as possible.
- Sales: You need to generate buzz via advertising, reviews, media (both off and online) or by holding giveaways and contests.
Looks like there’s nothing to it huh? Sadly, none of that is true. This is a complicated project to manage. It takes time management skills, coordination (team building) and business communication skills to succeed.
So how does an indie author succeed? We study the big publishers and learn from their mistakes and adopt what works for them.
Secrets of the Big Six: The Soft Launch
For those of you not familiar, a soft launch is where you put your book on sale, but tell only a select few like; reviewers, members of the media, and even newsletter subscribers. Some authors suggest taking a few months before doing an official push just so you can get your ducks in a row. Here’s what an author generally does during a soft launch:
Look for Annoying Mistakes and Formatting Issues
When I published my YA novel, I found a grammatical error on the first page. Needless to say, I was very upset. I worked so hard on that darn thing and still I missed things. Obvious things. If I had done a soft launch this wouldn’t have happened.
Start Collecting Reviews
Ever wonder why when a famous author releases a book, there are already 200 glowing reviews on Amazon? It’s because the book was already available for sometime but kept on the down low. A release date doesn’t really mean, a book was actually published that day. A release date is more like a push date, where the author and or publishing house are starting their marketing bonanza.
Blurbs are different from reviews, blurbs are a seal of approval from someone significant in your genre or within the publishing industry. Blurbs almost legitimize your book if you’re an unknown. This is important for indie authors since the self-publishing stigma is alive and well. Finding a big name who is willing to give an opinion on your book is hard but worth it. Check out this post written by Marcia Yudkin on how to get started.
Create Media Kits
Creating a media kit would have helped me and those curious about who I was. If you’re going to query book bloggers, journalists, or podcasters it would help if you gave them a link to your media kit. Here’s a good article from the gals at Duolit on how to create a sweet media kit for your website.
Schedule Social Media Posts
If you don’t have Hootsuite or Buffer I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. These two free services offer the ability to auto post during peek hours on your social media accounts. This way you can schedule posts telling your followers about sales, interviews or giveaways you’ll be doing. Priceless, for the author who is short on time and energy.
Hopefully you got something out of that, next week, I’ll be addressing paid marketing services and book PR. If you have questions or comments post them below.