In Your Corner: Nixing the Social Media

I know, I know, who cuts social media marketing in the modern era?

Well, consider the question. It is entirely possible in the age of social media saturation that many people are at or past a tipping point into social media exhaustion. After all, we’ve been exploiting the digital sphere in every possible way we can imagine ever since it was invented, practically speaking, and people are growing weary of quite a few “overdone” mainstream marketing moves, including holiday sales. Consider REI’s “opt outside” program, a push-back and against Black Friday insanity.

(Incidentally, this is nothing new. The Puritans banned Christmas/Yuletide carols back in 1600s, claiming that to sing them was a political act and an embrace of a “‘popish’ and wasteful tradition […] with no biblical justification” and we all know how far, literally, they were willing to go to enact their beliefs … so, you know, there’s nothing new under the sun.)

Back to book marketing. One of the very good reasons why some authors are pulling away from social media is that they’re over-extended. That is, they’re trying to do too much with too little (time, energy, money) and need to refocus on areas where they see good traction and meaningful engagement. Spending lots of time on maintaining a Twitter account with a following of 25 is a waste if one has truly tried all of the tips and tricks of the trade, particularly if one has, say, a robust following on Facebook.

Growing up, my father always told me time is money. He wasn’t wrong.

time is money

As author and blogger Delilah Dawson writes on WhimsyDark:

We are glutted with information, and yet our answer to “How do I get people to buy my book?” is social media marketing, which is basically throwing more information out into the void.

She’s got a point, too. More information isn’t always what’s needed; meaning and value are what’s needed, and most appreciated, by readers and book-buyers today. Just tweeting or blogging is not enough … each tweet and blog post must provide something the reader can’t get anywhere else, and which adds in some measurable or immeasurable way, to the book-buyer’s life.

Otherwise it’s just white noise. And as Nancy Peacock writes, there are a lot of small ways in which social media can eat away at our happiness and our productivity as authors:

Something was going on in my brain and I knew it. I knew I was in trouble because I could not focus on the book I was trying to write. There’s always self doubt with writing, but this was different. This was more than the question of whether or not I’d be up to the task. I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even enter the flow. My mind was fractured and splintered, my spirit in constant agitation. I felt like I was failing at everything.

I think we’ve all been there, and we may even be there more often than ever now that our computers have become hubs for all manner of distractions, including (as Peacock details later in her piece) social media in all of its forms.

Srinivas Rao, in an excellent piece for The Mission, writes that quitting social media can actually improve quite a few aspects of the author’s life in addition to providing more meaningful content. Says Rao, the benefits include “less anxiety and more happiness,” “presence,” “increased focus,” and “improved productivity.” I don’t know about you, but this month those benefits are sounding preeeetty fantastic.

So, this November, take a moment to consider the possibility of nixing social media. If your immediate knee-jerk reaction is “but I have such great followers!” and it feels like shutting down something vital and important to your creative recharge process, then maybe this isn’t a move you need to make. But if your response is more along the lines of “well, I don’t see much engagement there anyway” or “I probably won’t miss it” … then maybe it’s time to take a step back from marketing your book on social media, or at the very least refocus your efforts on platforms where you have a good toehold.

I know this isn’t a terribly popular sentiment, especially to the companies (like Twitter and Facebook) who monetize your access to social media and turn a profit off of the free content you’re posting on them, but not everyone needs to use every tool in the toolbox. It’s always, always about picking the right tool for the job. Let the other tools wait for authors who will find them better suited to their work, and focus on being “you” and the “best you” possible, in branding as well as other efforts. And as always, we’re here to help support you in your decision!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 3)

Two weeks ago, I launched a new summer series on self-publishing, particularly as regards publishing and marketing your book during this busy time of year–and how to take advantage of our July theme of freedoms and independence while doing so! And I continued the series last week, with a discussion of unfreedom and what constraints are placed upon us as self-publishing authors also engaged in self-promotion by necessity. How does one market a book effectively, without the reach or access or time-honed skills of a publishing company’s full marketing team? (It’s hard, but not impossible.)

This week, seguewaying off of last week’s discussion, I’m here to talk about the freedoms which are possible when working as a part of a team. Not just any team, either–a team of self-publishing authors! Which I think you will find is something of a different proposition from a marketing team at one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses.

teamwork

But first, let’s dispel the myth of the solo indie author, struggling valiantly against the current of traditional publishing, and vanquishing his or her demons alone, without assistance, and for free. It may in fact be true that some indie authors make a success of themselves this way, just as James Patterson and Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling have made blockbuster success stories out of their lives in traditional publishing … all while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of midlist authors struggling to get by, and required, despite their status as “traditionally published authors” to carry the majority of the promotional burden for their books.

Publishing is hard, no matter which way you go about it–and going solo, either in the publication process or all that comes after, harder still.

But freedom can be a collective achievement. You sacrifice nothing by teaming up with your fellow indie authors to sell your books! You lose none of your dignity, your creative control, your independence–your freedoms–but you gain oh-so-much-indeed! 

We’ve talked about the importance of book readings, book signings, and attending book fairs in promoting your book to new readers–but what if you didn’t have to go it alone? Many of the best readings, signings, and other bookish events I’ve attended have been panels, not singular affairs. Pulling multiple authors into one space, particularly indie authors, lessens the load on each participant while multiplying the event’s outreach. Imagine–even if all that happens is that your fellow readers bring their friends and families along, you’ve reached two or three or four times as many friends and families as you yourself were able to bring! That’s no shabby number.

Or, you might consider partnerships with local businesses, your public library, or events like our annual Cherry Festival as opportunities to build a coalition. Some of the fiercest book advocates are librarians and indie booksellers, yes, but don’t forget about the reach of a clerk at the counter of your local quilt store, or a restaurant with a waiting area! Your self-assembled team of advocates doesn’t have to be made up of the expected literary types; your team should make room for readers of all shapes and tastes, and partners who you normally wouldn’t think of. Once you’ve made contact with someone offline, make sure to make them a part of your online presence as well–either as a part of your social media network, or an email newsletter distribution, or something along those lines!

Lastly, you might consider going in for something like a co-op advertisement, something along the lines of this fabulous offering from Outskirts Press. In this case, you may never actually meet your fellow authors, but you’ll help each other out anyway–financially!–by reducing the cost burden on each contributing author. (And watch OP’s yearly deals, too–they often offer seasonal holiday-specific deals on their co-op ads.)

This is just a couple of examples of the kind of collaborative partnerships which can make your life, as an indie author, so much easier! Dig around online and see what suits you, but remember: you’re only freed if the marketing workload itself is reduced by your partnerships, so commit to projects with tangible and measurable outcomes, and clearly defined contributions.

 


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. ♠


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: Use Facebook to Promote Your Book!

Facebook

It’s not exactly breaking news anymore when we say “Facebook can help you sell books and create a platform!” to our readers here on the blog, since we’ve written about it before and maybe even a brace, a thicket, a luxuration of times—but it can never be said frequently enough, in my opinion.

Facebook can help you sell books and create a platform!

There, whew. We can all go home now.

Or can we?

There are hundreds upon thousands of resources out there specifying how and when to take advantage of Facebook, but the greater challenge is deciding which of those multitudes is actually useful for you, isn’t it? Being “findable” (there’s a five-dollar word for you!) doesn’t mean much if the platform isn’t providing you with something sustainable and enriching on your own terms.

Here are my top five recommendations for putting Facebook to work:

  1. Build a fanbase. Facebook is great as a bulletin board space, but its real power is in mobilizing large groups of people who all share a passionate interest in something, and you won’t mobilize anyone if you yourself aren’t on your page, engaging with readers, reviewers, and more generally, fans—on a regular and sustainable basis! Make it worth their while, too: upload “behind the scenes” videos and create events, use QR codes to direct traffic to your page and paper-bomb your town with it, guerrilla-style! Once you have a large fanbase, you’ll be able to do pretty much everything else that you want as well.
  2. Use your Facebook account to link with other websites. Whether it’s your email signature or those wonderful “log in using Facebook!” ancillary websites, which allow you to create and link your Facebook account in order to streamline the login process, interlinkage is a useful stratagem on many fronts. It gets your name and face out there, yes, but it also makes it extremely easy for fans to follow your movements around the internet—from Twitter to Instagram to Goodreads to Ko-Fi to Kickstarter and more! That way, even though you’re making use of all of these websites’ useful and peculiar features, you’re working with one central account.
  3. Go elsewhere. By this, I mean: use your Facebook account to interact with other authors, on their turf. Facebook is about community, and no community thrives when it’s one-sided, so don’t expect everyone to come to your page without first having something to offer on theirs! You can do a little market research while you’re at it, too, and steal ideas from authors whose pages reflect the kind of presence you yourself want to establish. You can share specific posts that you enjoyed on your own timeline, which also builds that community spirit.
  4. Keep it visual. You’ve probably heard the word “clickbait” floating around on the interwebs, but if you haven’t, the term refers to material which takes full advantage of social media users’ predilection for clicking on links which have immediate visual appeal—usually a catchy image or an equally catchy, brief, and possibly controversial headline. You don’t need to dip into the controversy side of things, but you too have a good reason to pay attention to this particular market trend, and to pay attention to the psychology behind it! Facebook users are equally as visual as those on Instagram and Pinterest, so don’t skimp on posting images to your account and your timeline. Photos bring in clicks and views more than anything else! It doesn’t just have to be images of your book, of course, although some of my favorite accounts carry out a kind of “book scavenger hunt” or “book road trip” activity, where the author takes pictures of their books in interesting locations—or ask readers to take pictures and then share those pictures to your timeline as well!
  5. Make a meal of Facebook Insights. This is the Facebook equivalent of Google Analytics, since even without a paid account, Facebook keeps detailed track of what users are looking at your page and when, how long they spend, what they interact with, and more! It’s profoundly useful, for example, to know when your “peak viewing” period is—when the highest percentage of people access your page every day—and post new material right then, for them to enjoy. It’s also useful to know, for example, that your readers really do prefer your images over your text posts—and by a factor of … well, it will vary from person to person! Once you know your fans’ habits, it may be time to explore paying for a Facebook ad … or you may not need one, depending on the circumstances!

However you choose to use Facebook, you’re not wrong. But there may be a few things you can tweak in order to do even better, as I am learning every day.

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 Missteps Episode 8 : Not Finding Your People

As the weeks go by, our list of marketing missteps grows longer, but here’s the thing: no matter which step you take next, or which foot you put forward, whether it turns out to be a mistake or a blinding success, there are options.  This is because you have chosen to self-publish, and self-publishing by its very nature puts the narrative into your hands at all stages of the process.  And while I do not advocate for underestimating the impact of these missteps I’m chronicling and examining here, I do advocate for not giving up if you happen to make one.  There are ways to overcome disaster–and I’ll write about those, too, in my next series!

The Missteps So Far:

This week, I’ll be looking at a mistake that at first glance might seem like a directive to the Millennial Generation, what with its emphasis on social connectivity and whatnot, but is actually a guidepost for us all.  The misstep?

Not Finding Your People

Many years back, when I was still in college, I took a course on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.  (Yes, yes, I know.)  I’m more than 90% sure that I took the class exclusively because of inglenooks, a strange little architectural quirk endemic to Wright’s earliest buildings.  “And pray, what is this inglenook?” you might ask.  It’s a fireside niche, or place to tuck yourself away in, with a book and a quilt and a hot mug of coffee.  It’s a tiny little retreat that Wright carved out of designs that seemed to leave no room for more experimentation.

Forgive me if architectural anecdotes seem a little out of line with marketing your self-published book, but here’s the thing: niches aren’t just useless ornamentation, whether we’re talking about someone’s home or someone’s book hitting the market.  We need niches.

building blueprint

When it comes to publishing your book, we’re talking about placing something into a market already packed with hundreds of thousands of new books published each year.  It’s more important than ever for authors to understand their niches if they want to sell books, because niches provide access to readers through hyperspecific keyword searches and in the “If you liked this book, you might also enjoy…” tools generated by websites like Amazon, Goodreads, and so forth.

Ideally, authors should figure out what niche their books will fall into before they even write their book, but it’s never too late to put the power of niche marketing at your fingertips.  I’m not just talking about broad sweeping genre categories–like “Western” or “Crime”–but the hyperspecific demographic of who among the world’s millions of devoted readers will really love and devour your book.  Whether your book is in its beginning conceptual stages or is well down the road to publication, it’s well worth sitting down and making a list that takes into account all the major demographic data points: ages, genders, interests, hobbies, and geographic locations.  This will help you narrow down your target audience.  And once you know your target audience, you can start compiling another list of keywords that relate to these people (think “parachute silk” or “dinosaur bones”) and that you can use to flesh out your website and book page metadata to make your book more findable by people interested in these specific things.

I absolutely guarantee that it’s easier to market your book if you sell it as a piece about baking out-of-doors in a kiln oven with all-natural ingredients than to sell it as a simple organic cookbook.  A book that is confident in its niche–in its dedicated readership–is a book that knows where they’re at and how to sell to them.  You want to be the one selling a book that declares:

tumblr_inline_nhma94hBqD1qbk0s4

 

I suppose, when push comes to shove, what I mean to say is this: you both need to find your people and make them your people.


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. 10:00 AM

Marketing Missteps Episode 3 : Waiting till the book is done to start marketing

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been delving into some of the marketing mistakes I’ve made or seen made over my many years of experience in the self-publishing industry as an author who works alongside other authors to bring books to fruition. The first mistake? Devolving into a self-centered campaigner.  And the second?  Confusing the sales message with the marketing campaign.  I’d like to stress that both of these mistakes–in fact, all of the missteps I’ll be unfolding over the course of this blog series–are incredibly easy to make, and have more to do with the vast numbers of authors flocking to indie publishing each year, with little to no experience in marketing to start, and no easy way of filtering through the noise of the countless resources available online.  A blog post like this one is only helpful if it actually cuts some of the clutter, right?

 

Which is why, as we tackle the third most common misstep I see self-publishing authors make in marketing, I am reminding myself of one very important fact: No grandstanding.  Just deliver the facts, with exactly the right amount of necessary context, and shine a little light on the path forward for busy authors with limited time to spend marketing much less researching new marketing strategies.  And with no further ado, I give you:

He Who Waits To Finish–May Never Really Get Started

 

 

waiting

I speak with authors on a regular basis who are just one month–or one week–or one day away from having their book out, but who haven’t yet launched a website.  “I’ll get around to it when the book’s actually ready for people to read,” they often say.  And when’s that?  When it’s already on bookstore shelves but there’s no buzz to sell it?  But the fact of the matter is, if an author waits that long, anything they try to do after the fact will be too little, too late–no matter how much time and effort he or she pours into the attempt.

power blogger

Don’t wait to launch your website, your social media platforms, your blog, and other aspects of your digital strategy.  I want to repeat that: DON’T WAIT for your book to come out before you start marketing in earnest.  Sometimes, a delay can’t be avoided–and I get that, really I do–especially since self-publishing authors are carrying a heavy burden on top of already busy lives.  But in most cases I’ve run across, maybe eight out of ten, the delay is artificial, not practical.  And it’s usually because the author in question underestimated the months and even years it can take to generate traffic on a website.

The instant a website is live, it can be paired with all of your existing online interactions.  If you’re already blogging, fantastic!  If you’re already on Twitter and Tumblr and Pinterest and Facebook and YouTube and Goodreads, great!  Start shepherding your existing followers in the direction of your official website for updates.  Get them used to turning to your website as a resource before your book is out–and that way, they can become advocates for your book even before its publication.  One of the toughest things to do as a book-lover is to recommend a new book without having either the actual book in hand or some easy-to-find website to point new readers to.  But if your website is live, then you leave room for anticipation and that much-desired “buzz” you’ll need to start selling books on the day of your book’s release.  And don’t forget, you are the most undervalued tool in the toolbox.  New readers don’t just fall in love with books; they fall in love with the people who write them, too.  They will (understandably) want to know more about you, and when your next book is coming out, and where they can contact you for media and review inquiries–all of which is made 500% easier if you launch a website … and early.

One more time for those in the back: don’t wait!


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. 10:00 AM

Marketing Missteps Episode 2: Confusing the Sales Message with the Marketing Campaign

Those of you who have been following my Wednesday posts here on Self Publishing Advisor for a while will probably have picked up on a couple of my habits by now, and one of them is diving into series that examine the many facets of an issue under a microscope.  I like to see every angle, follow every lead, and to be thorough.  Which is why, in continuing this new series that began with last week’s post on the subject of “Marketing Missteps” I want to do full justice to the heart of the matter.

What, then, is the heart of marketing?

This is the question that has rightfully dominated boardroom discussions at the top traditional publishing houses as well as the living rooms and kitchens and offices of thousands of entrepreneurial independent authors’ homes. Marketing, when push comes to shove, is about raising both awareness about and motivated interest in your product.  And by “motivated interest,” I mean the kind of interest that leads to product sales.  But note one thing: the sales come after the awareness.  To push for sales with a mercenary if understandable motive is, as an author, to do both your book and your readers a disservice.

To prioritize sales above the human being on the other end of the Facebook group, the email listserv, the Twitter feed, the phone line, the book signing table, and the Goodreads book page is to declare your financial gain to be more important than quality human communication, and art.  Readers, like everyone else in the market for new acquisitions, have a sixth sense about pushy and over-eager sellers.  And here’s a fact:

Your readers want you to be a storyteller, not the stereotype of a used-car salesman.

sales

So, what does “pushy” look like and how can you avoid it?

Many first-time self-publishing authors release a book accompanied by persistent announcements across all social media platforms––and not just cute little notices, but noisy and self-interested announcements.  (And if you’ll remember, we talked about the self-centered marketing campaign last week in detail.)  Marketing is a more subtle endeavor than a Sears Factory Clearance ad, however.  You are entering a crowded market––with around five hundred thousand new books released each year––with every other entry clamoring for readers to spend money.  When you as an indie author begin shouting into the void, cramming shotgun marketing messages into every available Tweet and post and picture and conversation––well, you do nothing but damage.  You have become part of the background noise readers must filter through every day, in search of a story they actually connect with.

And how not to become yet another unheard voice?  Lead with your wit and your humanity.  Look to the authors you admire on social media and their blogs and elsewhere––how much space do they dedicate to explicitly sales-related messaging?  I guarantee you it’s not much.  Instead of constantly pushing links to sales pages, the successful self-publishing author and marketer is increasing the value proposition of both their own personal brand––as an author and person––as well as the value proposition of the their work (published and ongoing).

We’ve mentioned it many times before and elsewhere that the best marketing strategy is to write another book and to talk about that process instead of constantly pushing sales for an already published book––readers will have their interest piqued by a work still in progress in a way they won’t be by something they can simply hop on to Amazon or Goodreads to read detailed reviews about.  The mystery of an unfinished novel is an incredible asset!  Whatever else you do, don’t stop writing––offline.

Don’t confuse sales messaging with a healthy and engaged marketing campaign.  Do remember how you first fell in love with a book, an author, and filling your bookshelves.  That is the kind of positive impulse that you want to tap into.

sales


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. 10:00 AM

Marketing Missteps Episode 1: The Self-Centered Campaign

You’re a self-publishing author, recently come out with a new book, and you’ve already decided to throw yourself into marketing in a serious capacity.  So what next?  Finding that starting point is a tough first act, but it’s always helpful to know a couple of false starts that others have made before you, isn’t it?  That way, at least you know a couple of places not to start, and you can find a path to success that fits your own indie experience, bolstering your skills and steering clear of your weaknesses.

Today, I’m going to begin a new series that will take a close look at several of the most important marketing missteps to avoid; the story doesn’t end here, of course, but hopefully this series will prompt you away from the edge of a few abysses.  One or two of the mistakes I’ll point out may strike you as “common sense” points, but as my dad once whispered to ten-year-old me on a sidewalk corner facing a four-way stop in heavy traffic where nobody could quite figure out the correct right-of-way: “Common sense ain’t so common now, is it?”  Even if a mistake strikes you as obvious, every reminder is a good one!

This week’s post is going to examine one of the most pernicious of all marketing missteps: that of the self-centered campaign.  At its simplest distillation, the self-centered campaign will alienate you from your readers quicker than a ten-year-old at a traffic stop.  Why?  Because readers are smart.  (I find it’s a wise policy to always assume my readers are smarter than I am, and they always seem to notice even the tiniest of continuity errors in my work before I do!)  They will pick up on the arrogance–intentional or unconscious–of an author who makes their marketing campaign all about his or her excellence instead of shining the spotlight on the real stars of the show: the book itself, and the readers who have so cleverly fallen in love with it.

arrogance in marketing

Here’s a hard fact to swallow: Your readers won’t always care about you, the author.  You might be able to persuade them to, a little, over time, simply by virtue of writing excellent social media posts or demonstrating sensitivity to others.  One crucial misunderstanding that self-publishing authors make is believing that they and their readers value the same things.  Hopefully, your readers will care about your humanity and the work you produce, but beyond that is murky waters.  How do we un-murkify them?  By doing the work.  By doing the research.  By figuring out what you do for your readers that no one else can.

To successfully market your indie book, don’t sell the customer your product (or book) … sell them your solution to their needs.  What issues interest your readers?  What subjects compel them?  These are the basic components with which you can build a successful marketing campaign.

Market research, even basic, is more than just helpful.  It’s necessary.  It is the one magical ingredient that will move your strategy away from something self-centered and toward something that is product- and consumer-centered.

But how to get there?  What are the best strategies for research?  One consideration might be to craft a simple survey with SurveyMonkey, or to poll a small focus group.  I recommend steering clear of using friends or family as focus group members, since their personal connections to you will skew how they answer.  And besides, online crowd-sourcing platforms like the aforementioned SurveyMonkey (as well as Facebook Groups and Google Forms) make for an inexpensive replacement for focus groups.  What you ask depends on what you find useful, but it might be worth crafting a few questions that speak to your readers’ genres of interest, the amount of time they spend reading or on social media, and how they like best to engage with fellow fans and their favorite authors.

Whichever avenue you pursue, these basic data-gathering methods should give you new insight into your readers, and help you shape your marketing message to focus less on you and more on the them.


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. 10:00 AM