Publishing is Just the First Step – On to Book Marketing!

Just a decade ago, most authors were limited to having their stories published by traditional publishing houses. According to Bowker data, 2.3 million books were self-published in 2021. Each year, 500,000 to one million new titles are published using traditional publishing houses. Together this means that there are 3 million or more newly titled books released for publication every year. Self-publishing has exploded over the past two decades due to the many hurdles that an author must jump through to get their manuscript in front of a traditional publishing company. The reality, however, is that publishing a book is not what usually takes up the most energy – getting in front of an audience is, which leads to book marketing.

The Challenges of Book Marketing and How to Overcome Them

Issue One – Limited Budget

Most self-published authors aren’t professional writers by trade, meaning they likely have a career outside of writing. The problem is that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Investing in yourself might feel risky, but everything worthwhile is. You don’t have to throw all of your resources and savings behind your book marketing – a lot of it you can probably do on your own. Without some guidance, however, it might start to feel like you are just spinning your wheels.

Solution

The first step is to establish a fixed budget and focus on the most cost-effective marketing channel. That might be email newsletters, blogging, or social media. When you can build a reader’s list, you know who your intended audience is and where to find them. Also, try to find other niche authors with whom to collaborate. Cross-promotion is an excellent way to piggyback from others’ efforts and to aid them with yours.

Issue Two – Limited Time

Again, most authors aren’t full-time booksellers. Authors are almost always balancing their work life, families, and many other responsibilities on top of trying to market their books. When you have limited time and resources, it is critical to come up with a focus and strategy so that you are making the most of your time and energy.

Solution

When you first release your book, there are going to be many avenues to explore – but you don’t have to do them all at once. The launch itself does feel eventual, but the real marketing is in the slow and steady and the long-term strategy. Most authors don’t see a high return in the first 30 days post-release – some not even in the first 90 days. Your marketing is like planting a seed, however, and it takes time to grow and take hold. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, just commit to doing one thing a day to promote your book. When possible, also delegate whatever tasks you can. If you can enlist people who are good at what you are not, then let them do what you can’t.

Issue Three – Your Target Audience

If you don’t know who would enjoy your book, it is hard to know who to market it to. Many authors have no idea who their niche market is or what their demographic pool looks like. You have to know your audience to find them; if you market with a wide net hoping that something will catch, that is going to be a lot more difficult than knowing who you are fishing for and targeting your efforts in a stocked pond.

Solution

You have to be a reader to know what a reader wants. Research other authors in your genre and find the ones who match your style and subject matter. Start to follow authors that you are in tune with and see what they are putting out there. Birds of a feather who flock together usually soar a lot higher than when you try to fly solo.

Issue Four – SO Much Competition

The statistics of competition can be daunting. Never before in history has book publishing been so competitive. The reality is, however, that most self-published authors do nothing to market their books. Many authors put their book up for sale, announce it, and then hope that it will miraculously catch on based on its own merits. Even the best-crafted story needs promotion – period.

Solution

Focus on the competition. You are going to see new titles every day, but stay the course. You aren’t competing against other books as much as you are against your motivation. People will never stop wanting to read, so it isn’t a yours-versus-theirs issue – it is a getting-yours-out-there issue. The best way to disarm a competitor is by joining forces. Instead of being envious of authors who are doing well, see what they are doing and learn from it. Also, invest in your book and don’t use shortcuts like using AI or just churning it out and hoping it will sell. Believe in the quality of your story, and it will shine as you want it to.

Issue Five – Online Visibility

Visibility is tedious at best. You have to start somewhere, so try not to get overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of creating a brand overnight. It takes time to build your brand. Start with a website and a social media site. Take a look at the resources that they have on Amazon to promote your book.

Solution

Create a website, no matter how simplistic it is. You can usually find someone on Fiverr to build one for very little. Then, pick just one social media site to focus on. When you have mastered one, go to two. Also, pay attention to Amazon. Find keywords to use and add categories to attract new audiences. Lastly, make sure that you have an author bio. People want to become invested in you as the author. Content is king for selling your book and ultimately your brand to your audience.

Issue Six – How to Build a Platform

You will likely hear about an author’s “platform.” Your platform is the sum of your brand, and it consists of your website, newsletters, social media, blogs, and being featured on sites like Goodreads.

Solution

Newsletters are a must, even if you only have a handful of followers. They create a way to direct message your audience. One of the most important aspects of your platform is to engage with your readers. You want them to invest time and emotion into you as the author. If someone reaches out to you, you must respond to them. Also, respond to anyone who posts or replies to your post. If you leave them hanging, that could create a poor impression of your investment in them. Lastly, use your platform to provide snippets of the book, behind-the-scenes information, and other bonus material that will hook them even more into your brand and investing in your book.

Issue Seven – Getting Book Reviews

Book reviews are going to be your best book marketing tool out there. Positive reviews help to build credibility for your book. It can be difficult to persuade someone to buy your book if other people haven’t. Most people don’t want to invest their time and energy into something that may or may not be worthy. Getting reviews by using it as your main call-to-action does take some work on your part.

Solution

Research and find bloggers, influencers, and bookstagrammers to help your book marketing efforts. When you have a list, offer Advance Review Copies (ARC) to them to gain reviews and feedback. You can use e-distributors like NetGalley or Edelweiss to help with this, but if you’re working with a publisher, be sure to check with them to see if this is something they do themselves. Also, run giveaways and promotions for readers who will review your book through Goodreads and Amazon. It isn’t easy – people usually read and forget to leave feedback unless you follow up and ask for it. The more influential the reader is, the wider the audience they will attract.

Issue Eight – Grassroots is About Pounding the Pavement

Social media and digital marketing are all necessary for book sales, but don’t ignore the other grassroots, pounding-the-pavement type of marketing. Just like a politician needs to shake hands and kiss babies, an author should take advantage of any opportunity to get their face and brand out in front of the public.

Solution

Find different community activities where you can be in front of an audience. Consider book signing engagements, stop into local libraries to ask if you can donate a copy, go on a local bookstore promotional tour, offer to do presentations or workshops, and ask if you can sell your book on consignment. It might seem like those are very little and insignificant sales tactics, but they aren’t. Making a name for yourself happens on a local level as well as national. Every little bit helps.

The reality is that many people are authors nowadays, and there is some pretty fierce competition for self-published authors. The book was the first hurdle and publishing it is a great accomplishment, so pat yourself on the back. The hard part, however, doesn’t end with the release. Try not to become paralyzed with the many avenues that you can explore and use. It isn’t a race for first place. It is the slow and steady that builds your brand and can make you a household name. If you are looking for more helpful tips or tactics for your book promotion, contact us at info@laurenericksonofficial.com to get started.

 

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