Welcome back to my series on marketing B.A.S.I.C.S. here at Self Publishing Advisor, of which this is the fourth installation. Three weeks ago I got the series underway with this introductory post, followed by an exposition on the “B” in B.A.S.I.C.S. (“Building an Online Presence“). Last week, I answered the burning question of “What does the letter “A” stand for, then?” with a not-so-simple answer tackling various ways and means of “Ascertaining Your Ideal Reader.” This week, as you might have guessed, we’re taking a look at the next letter in B.A.S.I.C.S. as we examine just how to go about Selling readers ON your book––and not just selling your book TO readers. If the distinction seems a touch unclear, consider it this way: there are a lot of reasons why people do or do not buy specific books, and it only rarely can be defined as ONLY a financial transaction. Ultimately, a book’s larger success can be credited to the author’s creation (and after, cultivation) a fan following made up of readers who really love and connect to the book.
As I mentioned last week, this series emphasizes marketing for new or first-time authors, but this point––this letter “S”––carries a lot of meaning for even the most experienced of authors. There’s no point in an author’s professional career––even a blockbuster success of a career––where free passes are handed out. No matter what stage of the self-publishing process you are at, you must continually strive to connect to your readers, and to create a product that is more than just attractive to them––you must strive to create a product, a book, that blows them away. Each and every time. This, too, is one of the most important and foundational of steps to crafting a successful marketing strategy.
So, how DO I sell readers on my book?
- Even before you publish your book, build community. Spread the word! Launch countdowns and promotions (like giveaways of Advance Reader Copies, or ARCs) on social media early. And don’t forget to reach out! Many first-time self-publishing authors find their most passionate advocates to be other members of the indie community. Why? Not only do they understand the rigors and narrative of self-publishing, but they’re by and large a welcoming bunch with extensive and generous networks––networks made up, in part, of avid readers looking for their next great book. You shouldn’t approach the indie publishing community, online or off, as a chance to steal eggs from someone else’s basket, though: humility is a quality that belongs in the self-publishing community every bit as much as it does in fairy tales. And, seeing a little of themselves in you, many established indie authors will be willing to put in a kind word for you with their readers. One day, you’ll be able to pay it forward in the same way.
- Share. You’re not just selling a book––you’re selling the larger narrative surrounding your book, and that narrative intersects with your own life in ways that you won’t always be able to predict. A key ingredient to selling readers on your book is to follow in Steve Job’s footsteps and be your own product’s biggest fan; your book is a beautiful and wonderful thing, and your enthusiasm for can be positively infectious. Never be ashamed to share with your readers your passion for what you’ve created, and to do so in as many creative ways as you can think of: radio and blog interviews, posts to Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr and Vine that reveal the “behind the scenes” elements that give a book its own life and render you, the author, into an interesting character in your own right. (And trust me, you ARE interesting! You’ve written a book, after all. You’ve put a piece of yourself out in the world for other people to engage with and respond to. Whoa.)
- And last but not least: Publish the book that you would want to buy. If you’re only halfway sold on the concept, execution, or presentation of your book … well, let’s just say that readers are usually looking for the same things in the books they buy as authors really want to see in the books they publish. Give every detail of the process––from conception through creation to final publication––the same level of care and attention that you might give to a priceless work of art. The comparison is only fair, as your book is art. And I, for one, can’t wait to read it.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.|