#12 - The elephant in the room ... Marketing!
Being at the stage of having now written your book, edited it to perfection, produced a dazzling cover in full color and had the 'feel' of it in your hand, you now have to sell it. Yes the elephant in the room really is the art of 'marketing' with some seeing it as big 'con' and others conceiving the process as a 'black art'! There are various theories floating around the stratosphere regarding the question of 'marketing' and what the 'simple' function of marketing really is. Well, the 'non-complicated' answer for our purpose is that 'selling' is the function of selling your product and 'marketing' is the function of selling you. So, marketing and promotion plans will now be essential to enable you to obtain the widest audience for your finished ebook or paperback and thereby the required sales to turn you from an author into a 'successful' author. Below, you will find some hints and tips to get you noticed and in the process of getting you noticed, you will raise the visibility of your product, resulting in increased book sales.
The Internet - The first place to get you noticed is the Internet. But what if you are not 'Internet Savvy'? Well, it would be a good idea to create a friendship with someone who is. If you have managed to get through the KDP process on-line, on your own, you will definitely be able to handle some straightforward promotional activities.
Author Profiles: You need to make sure you fill in the author profile opportunities provided by KDP or whoever you actually end up publishing with. You can also sign up to sites that let you create a profile such as Authors Den, Allauthor and Goodreads. Search the 'net' for others - there are quite a few out there and most of them are FREE!
Your Own Website: Sounds expensive? ... no, it's not really. You can buy a domain name for a few dollars and you can host it for nothing on quite a few reliable sites. Again, some research is required to see which one is best for your needs. There are also loads of on-line website builders on the Internet that will give you the tools to produce a more than acceptable web presence and such a service can normally be provided by the company that organizes your domain name purchase.
One thing to remember about a website is that it becomes the central link or reference point for you as an author. Literally, every link on the Internet, every link on promotional cards, every link given out by your local radio station should all arrive on the doorstep of your website. Make sure you apply some sort of 'Stats' package to your new site. There are many out there such as StatCounter and yet again, this service is FREE. Through viewing your stats on a regular basis you can find out how active your site has been, who is searching you and where they come from, what key words are being used to find you and what special links from search engines are landing on your pages. Research the 'net' until you find a set of services that you feel you can get on with and make sure they are FREE!
Email Signature: Get into your email program and find out how to put together an email signature. This could contain a news item about the release of your new book, a link to your website and if you know your way around the hosting of graphics, you can also add an image of the front cover. Make sure you then attach this new signature to every email you send out. Again, this very competent marketing tool is FREE!
A Blog: What is a blog actually? Well you are reading one right now. It is best described as a small but viral version of a website. You don't need any real specialist skills to put one together, feed it and post it. There are three sensible contenders named Blogspot by Google partnered with Blogger, Webnode which is increasing in popularity and or course the well known Wordpress. Simply search them on the 'net' and find out which one may suit your style.
Wordpress tends to look more acceptable for writers because it's 'Ad Free'. However, there are many more blog hosting and service providers out there, so take your pick. Make sure you update your Blog regularly and encourage all your friends to 'follow' you.
Promotional Cards - These are visiting or business size cards that you can hand out to individuals at club meetings and book signings etc. They describe you as an author and will include your book titles, web address and maybe a Twitter address. If you are good at graphics, you can produce them on a computer. If not, you can use a service like VistaPrint over the Internet which, at the time of writing, can provide you with professionally produced cards at promotional prices of around $5.00 to $20.00 for a pack of around 250. This service. although not normally offered FREE would normally be considered very cost effective.
Your Car - You ride around in it regularly in your local area so use it to your advantage by going to your local sign maker and having maybe a magnetic sign made that will simply stick to the metalwork of the car. It will not damage paintwork if carefully applied and removed. You can also have a vinyl sticker made providing the address of your website for the back window. Again, this will cost you a few dollars but can be a very effective marketing tool.
Press Release - Put together a press release that you can send out to local newspapers and radio stations. It should consist of the 'blurb', a profile of you the author, a decent photograph of you, an image of the book cover, an electronic copy of the book in case someone wishes to review it and most importantly, your contact and website details. If you are lucky, all recipients will take up the offer of this news story. This can be a big boost to your promotional campaign and best of all, it's FREE!
Book Signings - You will need to get out and about to arrange book signings. They need to be in a suitable environment such as a library, book shop, local club or restaurant/café. Talk with the managers or owners and tell them you will provide some advertising material before the event which will only take a couple of hours and require the space taken up by one table and a couple of chairs somewhere on the premises that can be seen immediately by prospective customers.
Book signings allow you to get a 'feel' for how your book is being received and make a note of all comments made. You only need two or three hours in each venue and it would be business minded of you to offer the venue owner a commission on all books sold; anywhere around 20% to a maximum of 25% should be seen as acceptable. You get your hands on the stock by ordering through the author's channel at KDP who will ship them to your door. Most other on-line publishing houses also have a facility for you to buy your books for resale.
Social Networking - The minefield of social networking is quickly negotiated by the younger writer; someone who has been raised alongside this fantastic networking tool. However, the older writer and novelist may not have such knowledge and thereby a suitable handle on what social networking provides. Here is a list of the top four non-specialist Social Networking sites for authors at the time of writing.
A Twitter account, for example, allows you to send out a message limited to 280 characters, but you can 'Tweet' as many times a day as you wish on more or less any subject. A Twitter account can build up an amazing number of 'followers' all over the world and in the electronic age of high speed communications, cannot be ignored. On nearly all social networking sites, there is the opportunity to post a lot of written information about yourself and your work as well as relevant images and photos. Followings can jump into the thousands or even hundreds of thousands.
Reviews - One of the best ways of enticing a reader to delve in to the depths of your book is to have good reviews. One of the ways to promote your book is to quote 'good' reviews. On Amazon and most other Internet dedicated book sites, there is an opportunity to create a review for a book normally consisting of a short written review and a 'star' rating. You will not normally be able to put up a review for your own book but you can of course encourage your friends to do so.
Bookshelves - As we have said before, no one will be able to read your book unless it is available on the widest array of platforms possible. These platforms are your 'bookshelves' and there is no equal playing field. If you publish an e-book, you need it out there floating across the airwaves on every serious e-book selling website. However, if you published on Amazon, although it is possibly the largest e-book seller in the world, you may be missing out on a few more.
Remember that 'overnight success' normally takes several years or so. In the process you will become agitated, despondent, elated and grateful, but most of all you will feel extremely satisfied when you see that all of your very hard work has paid off. You will notice we have made no real reference to paid-for 'advertising', either hard copy or electronic, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin etc. This we regard as a complex but separate subject and will be covered in a later post.