I still remember the day we launched Duolit.
After making sure everything was just right, I hit ‘publish’ on our first post.
I managed to wait all of 30 seconds before clicking ‘refresh’ on Google Analytics, anxious to receive our first visitor (who I was sure would eagerly comment on our post).
I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath, because it took us a month to get that first comment!
If you’ve recently launched your book, you might be experiencing the same thing. Perhaps you had a good first week of release, but now that the excitement’s worn down, sales are slacking.
I totally understand: it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by book marketing. If you’re feeling a bit downtrodden or apathetic, stick with me!
Back to Book Marketing Basics
Over the past two years working with indie authors, there’s one truth that has been reinforced time and time again: there’s no silver bullet guaranteeing book success. It only comes with hard work, perseverance, passion, experimentation and a fair bit of luck.
You’ve probably heard of gurus offering fancypants systems to help you sell millions of books overnight. Overnight solutions, however, are just that — they might work in the short term, but that’s it.
If you’re looking for a long-term writing career, here’s my advice: take your time. Don’t look for a silver bullet or push-button system. Instead, focus on building a groundwork for lasting success.
5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Book Marketing
To begin laying that groundwork, I’ve come up with 5 exercises to give your book marketing a kick in the pants. Tackle one a week (or one a day, if you’re a real go-getter), and I promise things will pick up!
1. Evaluate your abode.
Many refer to your website as a “platform” or “home base,” but I really like the word abode! Before you change anything in your marketing, evaluate your author abode.
Your website is the center of all of your marketing efforts — not your Facebook page or Twitter profile. This corner of the internet is yours and yours alone. Total control is key!
Don’t have an abode? If you’re looking for a free solution, we recommend WordPress.com. When you’re ready for something a bit fancier, check out OutstandingSetup. They set up beautiful, professional website and take care of the icky technical junk for you!
At minimum, your website should have a home page (with a brief background on you and your work) and a contact page. Make your abode inviting to readers by including:
- A mailing list. Create an email list and include a link or signup form in the sidebar of every page.
- A nifty freebie. Entice folks to join your mailing list by offering an excerpt, short story, free eBook or other nifty gift. Don’t hold back; make it good!
- Easy contacting options. Encourage readers to get in touch by including a contact form, your email address and social media links on your contact page.
2. Know your reader.
Having a reader profile allows you to picture a “real” person when writing emails, creating your book’s page on Amazon or writing the content for your website. This makes your messages sound less like selling – and more like speaking with a friend!
Note: Having “one” reader doesn’t mean that every reader will be exactly like him or that you’re only selling your book to folks like him. Finding your reader gives you focus and automatically makes your messages more engaging and effective!
3. Be inspired by another author’s success.
When you’re looking for inspiration, check out the successful authors all around you. Find another author (preferably an indie, but you can’t go wrong either way) and check out what kind of marketing they’re doing. Ask yourself:
- What social media does she use? What types of updates does he post? Does she get a lot of comments/mentions?
- Does he have a blog? What does she post? Which posts get the most comments?
- Who has reviewed his work? Would it be appropriate for me to solicit reviews from that person?
- Have they used a particular marketing idea that I’d like to try?
4. Talk to your readers.
The rise of self-publishing and social media gives you the opportunity to communicate one-on-one with your fans – a very powerful tool! No matter where you are in the publishing process, cultivating the author-reader relationship is never time wasted.
To begin building a relationship with your readers:
- Ask questions. How did that new commenter, Twitter follower or email list subscriber find you? What does she like about your work? Which book would be his “desert island” read? Ask questions as often as possible – they’re great for sparking conversation!
- Just say hi! Instead of relying on automated services to wish a friendly hello to followers on Twitter, check out the bio of a new follower an send a genuine ‘welcome’ message. You don’t need to do this with every newbie, but if someone catches your eye (especially if they have fewer than 500 followers), give them a shout. They’ll be stoked for the mention!
- Respond to comments and emails in a timely manner. There’s nothing worse than taking the time to leave a comment or email and never hearing anything in return. – talk about discouraging! Make a commitment to yourself (and your readers) to respond to every (non-spam) email, comment or tweet in week or less.
5. Take a deep breath.
It’s a tough reality of marketing: you have to give new avenues and campaigns time to work.
Whether it’s guest posting, tweeting, trying out Pinterest or using KDP, commit to trying out new marketing ideas for at least a month. This feels easy at first, but when you don’t see immediate results, it can become easy to slack off and declare your marketing experiment a failure.
Book marketing, however, is kind of like losing weight – it can take weeks of dedication to start seeing results. Jumping from idea to idea is what marketing folks like to call “shiny object syndrome.” This happens when you try out a cool new marketing idea only to be distracted by another a short time later. Avoid this trap; give your efforts time to work!
Remember, the worst marketing idea is inaction. Even if you need to take some downtime to strategize and brainstorm, keep moving forward and staying positive!
After all, 29 days into Duolit, I was ready to give up; I thought that first comment would never come. The next day – there it was! Marketing is a funny, random art, and you never know when your hard work will begin to pay off.
I’m curious, though: how often are you overwhelmed by book marketing? Have you ever had an idea work when you didn’t expect it to? Let’s chat in the comments!
Toni Tesori is one half of Duolit, two gals who help passionate fiction authors sell more books by building their crazy-dedicated fanbase. If you’re ready to become a book marketing whiz, check out their FREE 4-week training course. A new session starts later this month!