You oozed blood from your pores to write your book.
You banged it out in the tradition of Tolstoy or Hemingway, typing away in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when everyone was sleeping. You fueled yourself with caffeine and junk food. In fact, you can’t remember your last full night of sleep.
You paid your dues, put in the time, and now you have a finished book. Time to enjoy the afterglow.
As you lounge on your bed with your book cuddled next to you like a satisfied lover, you know the morning is eventually going to come, and with it the task of marketing your book.
As a writer, you’ve only met Level One satisfaction. And if you thought that experience was mind-blowing, just wait until people start buying and reviewing your book.
Here are 3 ways you can market your book and be a successful author. These strategies can mean the difference between being having just a handful of book sales, and being a successful author with thousands of books sold.
Court a variety of suitors
Make it easy for all kinds of people to see how your book will benefit them.
It isn’t that people are stupid, or can’t get it on their own.
But people are bombarded with advertising messages every single day, and they need to know quickly how something will work for them. If you can’t state this quickly and effectively, they will move on to the next thing.
Our own sweet cuddle of a book, Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers, is about taking a very practical and action-oriented approach to raising the money you need to fund your big dream. It is based on our 2-year experience of saving, selling, and earning the cash we needed to fund our open-ended trip around the world.
A regular plot line would have us marketing our book to long-term travelers (or those thinking about it) or perhaps personal finance sites.
Instead, we scripted a series of twists and turns, introducing our book to everyone from early retirees to people affected by job layoffs to kitchen table entrepreneurs needing startup cash to people who simply wanted to see how we marketed our self-published book.
We had a specific message for each niche, a way that our book could solve their problems. We did all the hard work for them, connecting the dots as to how this book could help them achieve what they wanted.
The takeaway for you: Don’t take just the obvious route in marketing your book because you’ll have a lot more competition that way. Go the road less traveled for more sales.
Next step: Sign up for HARO, the free daily email with queries from journalists, bloggers, and media outlets looking for sources. Your book may tie in with a current event, upcoming holiday, or breaking news, and this is your chance to get some great publicity in an unconventional way.
Let others sing your praises
The most effective way you can sell your books is by not actually selling them yourself.
Word of mouth and social proof are far more powerful than anything you can say about your own book.
People assume you will say nice things about your own work even if it is crap, right? But to have someone else say it? Well, that’s going to get their attention.
Because we initially sold our book through our website, we had an email list of buyers from whom we actively solicited feedback. Their reviews and quotes were used on our website, newsletter and in our email signatures to tell potential buyers what others were saying.
When we moved our eBook to Amazon Kindle, we asked people to share their comments as official Amazon reviews.
This is how powerful those reviews can be:
One day over breakfast at a guesthouse in Thailand, we were talking to another guest about what we do for a living. He immediately whipped out his iPhone and looked up our books online. His first comment? “Wow, you guys have some great reviews.” His next move? Buying one eBook right there in front of us to read on his Kindle app for the iPhone.
He was interested in our story enough to look up the book while we were chatting, but even a face-to-face chat with us wasn’t as powerful as seeing those 5-star reviews.
The takeaway for you: Don’t discount the power of social proof.
Next step: Actively ask for reviews of your book. Reach out to specific buyers, peers, colleagues, savvy friends who represent your target market, and even review services.
Put together a list of sample tweets and Facebook updates your peers and buyers can use to promote your book. Give them an ad graphic if they have a blog and want to sign up as an Amazon affiliate. You’d be surprised at how effective this can be. People buy books their friends and colleagues are reading.
Spiff up your image
Your reputation is enhanced by the company you keep.
Sure, your reviews are going to help solidify your standing, but you can take it one step further by reaching out to the influential people in your space.
By this, I mean submitting guest post to other blogs but also inviting those people to write and contribute to your blog. This may mean full guest posts, or it may mean asking several experts for an answer to a question relating to your book’s subject and putting it all together in a post you write.
It may even mean asking someone with an opposing view to go toe-to-toe on an issue.
Either way, by showing that you know and interact with experts, you are adding to your credibility. The bonus is that these experts are likely to promote your posts – and by extension, your book – to their audiences as well.
The takeaway for you: Show you are an authority by the quality company you keep.
Next step: Go out on a limb and use your blog and other outlets to comment on current events and topics related to your subject. Engage with other experts or celebrities in your field to start lively discussions.
You have to position yourself as an authority and become comfortable sharing your opinion if you want to be seen as a resource. If you only nod your head or repeat what everyone is saying, you will remain a supporting character in the story instead of the hero.
A final note on marketing
If you think writing and selling are two different skill sets (one highbrow, the other lowbrow), you are wrong.
Writers who think it is beneath them to market their books are never going to see the kind of success they want.
It takes the same type of skill to sell readers on buying your book as it does to “sell” your plot, characters, and theories within the book. Not getting this concept can mean the difference between selling 10 copies and 10,000 copies.
Now get out there and market like hell! What strategies do you use to sell more books? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.
About the Author:
Betsy Talbot and her husband Warren write about creating the life you want from the life you already have at Married with Luggage. They sold everything they owned to travel the world in 2010 and they’re still going (the world is big!). Get a copy of their latest book, Getting Rid of It, in print or ebook.
Image: Successful Author courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com