As an author-publisher, the best marketer for your book is YOU – says Anne-Catherine de Fombelle, Chief Globalization Officer for self-publishing aggregator StreetLib, a valued ALLI Partner Member. That may not be what you want to hear, but in today's post she explains why she believes this to be true, and encourages you to embrace and positively enjoy the heady responsibility of being your own marketing director.
This marketing topic pops up rather often in the tips and trips section of our blog at StreetLib. I actually think it’s the most common topic in self publishing discussions. Yet, year in year out, I keep reading the same comments from authors saying marketing isn’t for them. It’s not their thing and it’s the one aspect of self publishing they want to get rid of.
This really doesn’t make much sense. If you are one of these people, I hope to show you why marketing your books is not only the logical thing to do, but why it should be the most enjoyable part after publishing your book.
A Misconception of Marketing
Running huge ad campaigns, or spending day and night tweeting ‘buy my book’, ‘here is a great book’, ‘just off the press’, ‘the book you don’t want to miss’, or running after readers so that they publish a review on Amazon… This isn’t marketing.
These are just some of the activities you may end up doing IF they fit into your marketing strategy and IF you decide to do them. The foundation of your marketing is inherently linked to the reason you published your book in the first place:
- Do you just want it out so your students can easily purchase it for your class?
- Do you want to share a Normandy story with people interested in World War II historical fiction?
- Do you want to earn money thanks to a dozen of self-help books?
Each of these are perfectly good reasons to publish a book – and there are myriad of others – and each of these has a different marketing need.
If we follow the examples above, the first case is the easiest: give your students a link to your book so they can buy it. That’s it. And yes, that counts as marketing: you are exposing your product (your book) to your market (your students). This is the exact definition of marketing.
This same definition is also why saying you don’t want to market your book makes no sense. The minute you decide to publish it, you are willing to expose it to a market, however small it may be. This is marketing.
The second and third cases require different levels of investment (time and money), and it is up to you to decide if you want to invest time – you’ll do it all by yourself – or money – you’ll hire someone to do it for you, or a mixture of both.
But keep in mind: if there is one person suited to do the job, it’s you.
You Know the Book Inside Out
I once tried to convince a Facebook manager during an interview that the fact I had never had an Instagram account would be a good reason for me to join Instagram’s marketing team (as community manager for the French community, in case you are curious). I only opened an account the day before the interview. I argued that I would genuinely be discovering features for the first time as I talked about them to our audience, making my reactions fresh and authentic. Thus, making me a great person to market it.
That was what we call in France proper baratin (patter/small talk) and the manager wasn’t fooled.
Having a deep knowledge of the product you want to market is definitely a huge bonus. When it comes to your book, here is why:
You can incorporate fragments of the story or elements of the book into your marketing material. Describe a character, give away an excerpt, quote the hero, set the scene… enough to intrigue a reader and make them want to buy your book: that’s marketing. Of course, it also applies to non-fiction books with quotes, lists of topics addressed in the book, etc.
You know the intended genre, style and spirit of the book. Those all are elements to use in your marketing efforts. Someone who just reads it (or rather skims it) to do your marketing may very well miss the intended tone.
You are the voice of your book: the best voice to talk about it.
You know who it is for. The one priority when doing book marketing is defining your reader.
As mentioned above, marketing is exposing your product to your market.
Which really means, defining who might want to read your book, looking for them and telling them about your book and why they’ll love it. Why would you not want to do that?
Maybe it’s scary. Maybe you are afraid the people who should love your book will actually hate it. I understand.
But I can tell you right now: there is a better chance of them actually loving it if they know it exists and get a chance to read it. If no-one knows about it, there is a 100% chance that no one will love it.
And that leads me to another major reason as to why you are the best person to market your book: you know the message you want it to convey. Trusting a professional to handle your book’s promotion does certainly have its merits. But it will mean spending a lot of time making sure they ‘get it’. You may be lucky and find someone who immediately understands your book and who talks about it just like you would. In which case it may as well be you. You might not be lucky enough to find this someone, but at least you know that you definitely ‘get it’.
And You Love It
There is nothing more convincing and captivating than someone talking about something they truly love. And by that, I don’t mean an author saying that their book is the best ever written. That’s not what it’s about.
It’s about sharing the real attachment you have for this book and story, and the reasons why you love it.
That might be by sharing your writing experience. Or where the idea came from. Or the feeling of finishing it and actually reading it from start to finish from the first time. Or your relationship with a specific character.
Some writing experiences are hard, and you may end up kind of resenting the book for what it put you through. I have one piece of advice for you if that’s the case: leave it to rest for a bit. Go about your business, maybe start outlining another project. Get back to it when you can make your peace with the experience and actually appreciate the work itself.
If you still don’t love it, make sure you aren’t just doubting yourself or being way too modest and then, see how you can fix it until you love it. If you don’t, why would readers?
For me, your marketing and promotion is an extension of your writing. It’s about taking content, impressions and experiences from the book. Which is why you need to make it your own, and consequently enjoy it.
Make Marketing Your Book as Much Fun as Writing It
Once again, perhaps writing wasn’t all that fun. But there is something that you loved about writing it, otherwise why would you have done it? Find the things that you enjoyed when making your book: share them and use them for your marketing!
Sure, knowing the best time of year to discount your book or the best keywords is very useful. But please don’t focus entirely on that.
I have never seen a book tweet, even posted at the perfect time and with the perfect keywords, gather thousands of reactions (unless for a celebrity). On the other hand, I have seen a Twitter account (whalefact) amass over 60K in less than a month by simply being funny, a bit stupid and, most importantly, having a conversational tone. Maybe it’s not intended to market anything. But, if it is: it’s brilliant. And you should definitely take notes.
I’m not saying you have to try and be funny (if you’re trying, it’s already a bad idea). Instead, you should see what makes you spark, what lights a fire inside you, and use that for your promotion and marketing.
Maybe you wrote a cookbook because you fell in love with Thai cuisine on a travel. Well, tell all your potential readers about that trip! Tell them what it was like to discover this amazing food!
So – stop saying you don’t like marketing. Start finding what you want people to know about your book and how you want to tell them.
#Indieauthors - need inspiration & encouragement for your #bookmarketing? @StreetLib's post here will make you want to embrace it! Click To Tweet
And start doing it: that’s what marketing your book is.
OTHER POSTS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO EMBRACE BOOK MARKETING
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive
My Dad was a fantastic marketer–the word “no” didn’t stop him, but he also wasn’t pushy. He loved being with people and bringing them in touch with whatever product he had to offer. He had what I call “the touch.” This is not a universally accessible trait. Even sharing the work one loves takes a lot of courage. Promoting one’s work is not so much something a lot of writers resist–it’s more that we have no idea how to do it! For some people it is a natural action to do self-promotion, including doing it in the nicest of ways. I consider that ability in marketing to be an art form–or else a lot more people would be succeeding at it.
Marketing has never been part of my own life–not a familiar part of it. I write because I can’t NOT write, but that has nothing to do with my non-existent skill set at telling people about it. It’s not an introvert’s first inclination.
I don’t doubt what you say is true, but i also think a key ingredient is the writer’s ability to be “out there” without fear. I have a newsletter in which I don’t promote my books but I give stories about their creation and images along the way. People enjoy reading the newsletter–but it has not worked as a marketing tool… 🙂 And whenever I tell someone I am a writer (in context), they either pass on by or say “I could do that, too.” It just is not so easy to meet and greet on one’s own.
Twitter operates just as you say–it isn’t meant as an effective promotional platform. But I can see that creating tweets not related to my books but with the intention to garner attention might be a good idea. Something to mull over.
Thanks a lot,
Thank you for this article! Especially the mention of Twitter – I found that I never bought a book because of Twitter self-promotion, and in fact either didn’t follow or unfollowed people who posted ONLY about their books. Why would I be interested in countless ads? Twitter gives me enough. At the same time, I made friends there, learned a lot, and I enjoy chatting with fellow writers, reposting content relevant to my interests, tweeting about things that I feel strongly about or just like.
I’ve got my marketing plan which involves people who are interested in things I write about. I’ve got a list of blogs and articles to contact. As for topics related to my book, I blog about them. If readers are interested in my blog posts, they are very likely to be interested in the book, and vice versa.
First reaction: Yep I’d love to talk about my book – but find me the audience!
Second reaction: I’ll print this out and keep it … not keep it but read it and study it … how can I find an audience? Can I be funny, warm, and interesting enough on Twitter? Do my books engage with the same audience as my retweets on socio-political topics? (Broadly, they should – except Brexit etc wasn’t there when I wrote them … but the NHS was …)
Good piece, hopefully helpful …tweeted! And NEW website coming soon … until then, old one still in place …