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Authors: Book Marketing and Publicity is Creative and Fun (Honestly!)

headshot of Ben Cameron

Ben Cameron helps you learn to love book marketing

Many indie authors view the need to market and promote their self-published books as at best a necessary evil – but professional book publicist Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity and Marketing begs to differ. Before you dismiss that notion with “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”, read what he has to say about how even he had to learn to love it when starting out in his career – and why now he ardently believes that marketing books can and should be fun!

I hear it all the time: “Marketing is what you have to do after the fun of writing your book” and “I write because I like the creativity. Marketing is not for me”.

The stereotype is that writing is the carrot and marketing is the stick. But is it? Is that really the case?

I didn’t set out to be a publicist and never thought that I would be good at it. Like you probably do, I thought of promotion as some sort of ‘black art’ – a nefarious combination of data-crunching (marketing) and blagging (publicity).

However, I was desperate to work in publishing so that I could work with creative people who with an inspired turn of phrase could unearth hidden truths or explain complicated ideas.

So, I took the job in publishing that I could get: Marketing Manager. It was only after taking that job, and figuring out what a Marketing Manager does, that I realised that marketing and publicity can be fascinating, fun and creative.

It was the job I was looking for, I just didn’t know it.

Book Marketing: So What’s It All About?

What book promotion is really all about is making people aware that a book exists and that it is more valuable to them than its price tag.

Beyond that, it is pretty much up to you how you do it:

  • You can create intricately targeted online ads and analyse the response in minute detail
  • You can ring a list of influential journalists and tell them how your book will appeal to their audience
  • You can give talks, price promote, sponsor events, cajole your friends and neighbours, post photos of snowy landscapes with meaningful quotes on Instagram, write a blog, capture email addresses for a newsletter – whatever you want…

The possibilities are endless and the more creative you are, the better chance you have of finding the things that work.

What Are You Up Against?

Of course, there is also competition. There are a lot of books out there in the world and they are all published on the assumption that they are worth the reader’s time and money.

If you don’t do something to make your book stand out you simply will not find your audience.

You already know that, but here is how you can really make a difference:

Don’t reluctantly ‘do’ marketing like a teenager ‘does’ their chores. Embrace it!

Do it with enthusiasm, attention and interest you will not only sell more books but have fun in the process.

How to Get into the Marketing Frame of Mind

Here are some tips to get your head in the right place for marketing and publicity:

  • You probably don’t want to think of your book as a ‘product’. So don’t! Your book is an idea and rather than ‘selling a product’ you are giving that idea a chance to thrive. Best of all, it is true!
  • Instant feedback is an amazing and rare thing in life. If you create an online ad for your book you can see, in real time, how that ad is doing and tweak it continually to make it better.
  • Journalists are not born grumpy. They are only that way because of the demands of their job (I am stereotyping here, but I am comfortable doing it). Once they understand that your book is of interest to them and their audience they can become champions of your work.
  • Embrace storytelling in you marketing – brainstorm ways of reaching people and create narratives and anecdotes about your book that will entice readers and touch their emotions.
  • Your book blurb and your ‘elevator pitch’ are like concise poetry. Every word matters so edit them again and again (just like when you wrote your book).

But What If You Still Can’t Do It?

It is entirely possible that you ARE rubbish at marketing and publicity. Who am I to say that you’re not? But I really doubt it.

It is more likely that you don’t have time or don’t want to devote the time that you have to marketing.

After all, that next book is not going to write itself.

Cameron P&M logo

Other book publicity services are also available, as the BBC likes to say…

And if you do ever decide to hire someone to help your book to stand out, make sure you are an active part of your campaign. You still need to be enthusiastic and interested enough to ask a lot of questions and suggest ideas. A good publicist or marketer will be happy to explain why they do what they do, will appreciate your input and will tell you nicely if your suggestions are not going to work.

 

OVER TO YOU How did you get past the marketing wall and learned to love publicity? What marketing methods have you found most satisfy your need to be creative? We’d love to know!

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6 Responses to Authors: Book Marketing and Publicity is Creative and Fun (Honestly!)

  1. Daccari Buchelli February 25, 2017 at 6:43 pm #

    I found this article to be somewhat confusing because I have been made aware that the marketing and promotion of books are two entirely different things. Here, it sounds like you are discussing book promotion, yet ‘marketing’ features in the title and throughout. It would be nice to have some clarification so that other authors do not confuse the two.

  2. Nik Olsen February 25, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    I am probably one of the few who are ‘rubbish’ at marketing & publicity, possibly due to my total lack of interest in social media and self-promotion. I have had my two books evaluated by non-biased reviewers and all were favourable, but find the publishing world confusing and unhelpful. I have already spent a lot of time and a reasonable amount of money on my writing so am unwilling to spend much more without some positive and corroborative testimony assuring me the book(s) will be read by people able to promote them. I understand that the material is not suitable for everyone, but do believe it has commercial potential; if however a sufficient number of qualified people dismiss the work i will reappraise my situation, though i would of course welcome some productive feedback.
    I am willing to invest more time and money in making the work available in shops if i am convinced their will be a demand. What i won’t do is hand all rights away and lose control over the use of the books.

  3. Marisa Parker February 25, 2017 at 1:53 am #

    Thank you for this great advice. Marketing a book can be overwhelming especially if it is a topic close to your heart. It’s a double-edged sword because I know the story is great and therein, I am the best person to sell it. But because it is a topic so important to me, I have been scared that I won’t have the right pitch or, I’ll just not do it justice. I am a debut author and the book, Goodbye To Italia, is about my parents and their diverse experience in Italy and Africa in WW2. Now I understand, that it’s just about sharing the idea/the story rather than thinking about it as marketing/selling a book. And if I ask a book store, the media, etc about opportunities to share this story, they may say no and it doesn’t matter if they do. It’s all part of practising my pitch, tempering it to my audience e.g. older audience – take the angle of WW2 experiences; women over 25 – this is also a love story, etc. Making that personal connection can produce the most amazing affinity with other people who themselves have amazing stories to share.

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