From the Archives: “Self-Publishing Ripple Effect Marketing”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: May 27th, 2010 ]

Think of self-publishing book marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. Plan the journey, prepare to work, pace yourself, and not become discouraged when you the bear jumps on your back. Your second wind is right around the corner.

Unlike blockbuster books like Harry Potter, which sell 90% of their copies in the first 90 days of release, an independently published book is often the opposite – not surprising since titles like Harry Potter make up a percent of a percent of all books published. It takes time to build awareness. Sales may start slowly, but can climb over time if you persistently market your book.

If you’ve yet to nail down a specific marketing plan, I suggest starting in your own hometown. Build a Tribe. Attract the interest and readers of people in your inner circle before you focus on your neighborhood. Then, focus on your neighborhood before concentrating on your city. Next your state and region, etc. This is known as the ripple effect.

It applies to both online and traditional marketing tactics.

“The history of the ripple effect, or butterfly effect,” writes Brian Bass of the Houston Chronicle, “precedes the modern forms of technology that today commonly utilize this phenomenon. The theory essentially represents the idea that what happens in one place at one time can have effects on another place at a later time.”  According to Bass, when applied to the world of marketing, the ripple effect is taken to mean “subtly plac[ing] a brand or product front and center in the minds of consumers. A company can achieve this ripple effect through hype, dialog or opinions that the company creates about its products. The ripple effect of marketing states that this attention will generate more attention, benefiting the company.”  The emphasis may be mine, but the words really do speak for themselves. Ripple effect marketing is marketing that builds on itself.

ripple effect

But what about in the context of self-publishing?  Our original post back in 2010 wasn’t far off when it proposed Harry Potter as an exercise in the exact opposite–particularly if we’re talking about the later books in the franchise, once the series had picked up steam.  Nobody needed to generate interest in those books–the interest was already there, built-in, and marketing was simply a way to activate it.  The ripple effect was completely unnecessary.

The average self-publishing author–and the average midlist traditionally-published author, for that matter, if we’re being honest–needs the ripple effect because the average self-publishing author is starting from the ground up.  With a limited budget, and a limited supply of time and energy to see them through.  So why ripple effect marketing?  Because its core principle is efficiency.  You simply can’t find any other marketing theory that so effectively and efficiently makes use of what has gone before, and incorporates all of your individual strengths while pruning away marketing strategies that don’t work for you.

Think of this diagram:

ripple effect

As this BrightEdge diagram demonstrates, your marketing performance (that is, how many books you sell) is the direct product of the convergence between what you yourself create in terms of digital presence (“owned” media) and what you pay for others to create (“paid” media).  The core content–your book–has a lot to do with your success, but so does your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), your finesse with social media, and your means of distribution (the diagram is referring to software, so its visual equivalent here is the Applied Program Interface, or “API”).  The marketing process is simultaneously both linear and circular, with self-referencing feedback.  And the key to making it work?  Optimizing, optimizing, optimizing.  Which essentially means backing up and posing the question “Is this helping?  Why or why not?  And how can I make it better?” at each and every step.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

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

In Your Corner: Optimize your Amazon presence!

Amazon is, for all intents and purposes, the powerhouse when it comes to the book distribution process.  It doesn’t seem to be a temporary thing, either; authors and publishers alike simply must acclimate to the fact that to sell a lot of books, they first must tailor their Amazon presence to be an attractive one.  And Amazon seems to have good intentions insofar as providing resources goes: its architects have dedicated incredible resources to creating better ways to connect authors with their readers.

There are a lot of ways to promote your book on Amazon, and since sales through this website may very well account for a large percentage of your overall book sales, it’s worth making sure you’re aware of all of the options!

amazon warehouse

The first step, of course, is to figure out what you’re doing right.

To do this, locate your book listing on Amazon by searching the title or ISBN.  Once your book listing is fully loaded, make sure your cover is showing.  If it isn’t there yet, make sure to upload a quality image for your readers to view–preferably at a high resolution.  Double-check that all of the information on display is accurate, and check back every few weeks to make sure it stays up-to-date and glitch-free.  This all is predicated on the assumption, of course, that you already have your book for sale on Amazon … but what if you don’t?

Create an Author Central account.

This account differs from the normal customer account you may already have on Amazon as a result of buying something (or many things).  An Author Central account allows you to better manage your books, and the process is free, so there are zero reasons not to create one.  To begin, navigate to authorcentral.amazon.com and register your profile, following the on-screen prompts to add your books to your bibliography, create a blog, edit or revise your online descriptions, and use a number of other tools on offer.

Returning to your book listing page, it’s vital that you include only relevant and compelling sales information with a positive marketing slant that will increase both your exposure and the number of people who actually buy your book.  That’s money in the bank!  Streamline your page to avoid the clutter of white noise (information that distracts from what’s really important) and reassess regularly.

Go for those reviews.  Go for them.

Amazon rewards activity on your Author Central profile page and on your book page listings, to the more reviews you have–the more people who will be directed to your book via Amazon’s search algorithms, and the more people who will buy and review your book.  Interesting Factoid Alert: This is the definition of a positive feedback loop!  You want your book’s activity to outweigh the activity on all other books of comparable genre, content, and publication date–so in a sense, it is a bit of race to rack up the reviews.  To get these reviews, it’s a good plan to:

  1. Write online reviews for other books.  This gets your name out there, establishing you as an authority, and will occasionally be reciprocated by those authors you review.
  2. Entice people you know to review your book.  And if you don’t yet know a host of eager reviewers, consider hosting giveaways or offering discounts to potential reviewers.
  3. Mark positive reviews of your book as ‘helpful.’  There’s a link attached to each review on your book that allows other viewers to gauge the review’s usefulness (and accuracy).  You can ask your other friends and followers to do this, too.

Books without reviews are like books no one is buying–Amazon’s algorithms tend to leave them out of search engine results and “If you like this, you might also like this” recommendations.  It’s unethical (and fairly easy for others to spot) to give your own book a five-star review, but you shouldn’t shy from asking others to.  The worst they can say is ‘no,’ and there are plenty who will say ‘yes.’

Share your book using Amazon’s built-in features.

Picture this: sending an Amazon-branded email to all of your friends and acquaintances.  Imagine that the email contains a large image of your book cover along with its retail price, star rating, and an enormous inviting button saying “Learn More”!  Well, this option exists, is free, and is almost ridiculously easy to use.  All you have to do is locate your book on Amazon, look at your sales detail page, find the “Share” button (usually on the right-hand column).  Click “Share” and crack open your list of email contacts.  You can enter the email addresses for anyone you know who might like to know about your book, following the on-screen prompts to enter up to four hundred people at a time.

Amazon also makes it easy to share your book listing on social media.  You don’t have to copy the link manually; just click the Twitter, Facebook, and other social media icons on your book listing page–and again, just follow the prompts to log in and post the link to your followers.  Easy peasy!  And the best part is … every ‘hit’ on your book listing page boosts your online presence and optimizes your Amazon page within their complicated system.  Give yourself a leg up and explore all of your options!

amazon warehouse

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

Marketing BASICS : Building an Online Presence

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m taking Wednesdays back to the B.A.S.I.C.S. of marketing for your self-published book.  And step one of every really effective marketing strategy in the silicon age requires us to tackle the “B” in B.A.S.I.C.S.: Building an Online Presence.  Given that you’re reading this blog post on the web, I’m going to assume you have already been initiated into the manifold wonders of the internet age, but I’m also going to assume that you’re starting your latest book marketing campaign from the ground up––which is to say, you’re looking to begin with that all-important keystone of any such strategy: motivation.

SIDE NOTE

I’m not going to lie: marketing your self-published book is hard.  Really hard.  It will requires a lot of time, energy, and trust––trust in yourself and your own capacity to make wise choices that fit your own project.  Without this trust, authors risk losing focus as they get sucked into a whirlpool of self-doubt and second-guessing.  I recommend skipping this arduous process entirely by embracing your own insight and the sometimes radical notion that you really can make good choices.  I know that you can, and I’m a perfect stranger!  Just think: you may be fixating at present on some of your own limitations, but you also have a front-row seat to your personal portfolio of strengths and skills!  Let’s put them to work in marketing.

BACK TO THE PROGRAM

The real reason to begin your book marketing campaign with a strong web presence is the simple fact that a comprehensive bundle of platforms––such as an author website, a blog site, as well as accounts on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and even Instagram or Snapchat––is both an effective and inexpensive way to reach new readers.  We’ve written about many of these platforms before here on Self Publishing Advisor, in last year’s Social Media Primer and as far back as 2013 with Wendy’s discourse on improving blogs, but the fact remains that authors are presented with something of a moving target.

New platforms are becoming available all of the time, while less popular ones or ones that have outlived their usefulness are archived or excised from the web altogether.  This is why I used the key phrase “comprehensive bundle of platforms” above: to indicate that an effective presence requires a flexible, adaptable set of options––and above all, the freedom to experiment with emerging technologies as well as the courage to abandon unhelpful ones.  My own recent experiences with Twitter and Snapchat make for a good illustration; I’ve found a healthy and important niche for my Twitter use in broadcasting updates and news about my current work and upcoming publications, but I haven’t quite found a marketable use for Snapchat.  I tried, enjoyed it for a spell, and could even see quite a lot of potential there … but I could never quite invest in it the creative energy required to make it a success.  So I shut my account down in order to spend that time more effectively on platforms that better fit with my personality and web usage.

TWO TIPS

  • Your websites and blogs should be streamlined and easy to navigate; they must both catch a visitor’s eye and capture a visitor’s interest in regards to content, as well as make it easy for even the most unfamiliar of visitors to learn about and buy your book.  In building your websites, you can choose from among a whole host of free services, including WordPress (which is what we use), or Blogspot, or Tumblr, but whatever route you take you ought to consider purchasing your own domain name.  Make it something intuitive and easy to remember; many authors choose to use either their pen-names or the titles of their books as domain name inspiration.
  • Consistency is key.  Whether we’re talking about blog posts or social media updates, creating a sense of routine and reliability is important.  It both makes you more findable (especially if you integrate the tricks of SEO or Search Engine Optimization into your postings) and more trustworthy.  You  might even work up a schedule of what sorts of materials to post on which days of the week, as we do here at Self Publishing Advisor.  You know from following this blog in the past that every Monday we run through the major self-publishing related news items of the week, and every Saturday we run a book review compendium of a self-published book.  Because you know this, you already know that a) you can trust us to post new material on a regular basis, and b) which days of the week you’re most interested in spending some quality time on our website.

So that’s the “B” in B.A.S.I.C.S. … or at least, that’s a place to start!  There’s so much more to come.


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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT 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.

From the Archives: “Promoting your Self-Published Book on Google”

Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: August 7th, 2008 ]

When you are a self published author, sometimes book promotion is about who you know. Other times it is simply about having the time to devote.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a fast way to find the people or places that were right for your book? Knowing how to conduct an advanced Internet search that yields applicable results is very important. Luckily, it’s also very easy, and in case you don’t know how, I’m going to show you. Go to the Google website at google.com but instead of simply entering a term, use the “Advanced Search” by clicking on the link that says “Advanced Search” in small type next to the “Search” button. You will find a page that enables you to fine-tune your search. By conducting smarter searches, you will find places to promote your book faster. 

You can promote your books on Google for free. You’d sell a lot more books if a lot more people knew about them. Google can help make that happen.

  • Help users discover your books: By matching the content in your books with user searches, Google Book Search connects your books with the users who are most interested in buying them.
  • Keep your content protected: Users are able to preview a limited number of pages to determine whether they’ve found what they’re looking for. 
  • Drive book sales: Links to bookstores, online retailers, and your website make it easy for users to go from browsing to buying — with new ways to buy and access your books coming soon.

Learn more at: books.google.com/partner/

google books

I should warn you right off the bat that a lot has changed since I first blogged about Google’s partnership program for authors, and one of the things that has changed is the link you’ll need to follow for more information.  (The one I provided back in 2008, preserved above, no longer works.)  Your new one-stop shop for know-how as an author interested in Google’s partnership program is:

www.google.com/googlebooks/partners/

The link address may seem only subtly different, but I promise you won’t regret taking the time to access the updated materials Google has compiled there, including recommendations for self-promotion, resources for authors and publishers, and a collection of success stories.  (And let’s face it, we love tapping into the glow of success, if only to learn how others are finding ways to make it work.)  And let’s not forget Google Play’s “Book Partners Center,” a separate (but linked) resource which provides step-by-step instructions on how to publish your book as an e-book in the Google Play store, and put your story on Android devices the world over.

What I wrote in 2008 about optimizing your online presence to help:

a) users discover and access your book,

b) you protect your rights and maintain creative control, and

c) drive book sales …

… remains 100% accurate.  Google can help you do these things, but the ways and means have evolved in the last seven years––dramatically.  I recommend glancing at Self Publishing Advisor’s primer on Search Engine Optimization (SEO); you can find the summary post and links to the individual posts here.  Why?  Because Google is a multi-platform tool now when it comes to self-publishing.  Not only can you use Google Play to host and sell your book as a self-publishing platform, but you can use Google Analytics to analyze engagement on your personal webpage (or webpages), and you can optimize all of your web content across all of your different social media accounts and blogs and so on to better feed into your promotional campaign.

Google is so much more than a search engine, now! ♠

KellyABOUT 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.