A Book Marketing Truth Few Experts Will Admit

Book marketing is tough, especially when it comes to self-publishing. The good news is there is no shortage of experts, books and websites out there to advise authors on how to market. The bad news is that while some offer content brimming with strong, helpful advice, others impart ‘wisdom’ that belongs in a primer on what NOT to do. It takes time and the willingness to work hard to sort good ideas from bad and come up with a plan that is best for you.

But here’s a cold, unpopular truth about book marketing: you can do everything experts say to do, and still feel you are not getting a good ROI (Return on Investment).

There are a number of reasons for this. Here are some of the biggies:

Unrealistic expectations.

bookstoreIt’s human nature to look around and compare one’s book to that of a similar one and weigh the success of each, but the reality is this is an unfair comparison. Every book is different, so how readers connect with the characters and story of each will also vary. And readers aside, each author will have a unique platform and marketing focus. So while outwardly two books rest in the same apple cart, they might not belong together, and authors should not expect them to perform the same.

(image: Geralt @ pixabay)

Industry and market shifts.

amazonNot only do readers’ tastes change as trends reach a saturation point (people grow tired of reading about X so change to Y), so does the online retail market. Going exclusive with Amazon used to be a golden ticket, but now? Not so much. Same thing with the power of free. In the early days, free was the fast track to downloads, exposure and shooting up Amazon lists. But technology is fickle. Algorithms shift. Subscription services enter the picture. And BAM, just like that, the playing field changes…what used to work no longer does, or the value of marketing a certain way lessens. So depending on when you release a book and what is happening in the online marketplace at that time can affect your ability to reach those big sale goals.

(image: Roadrunner @ pixabay)

 Luck.

Anyone who says luck has had nothing to do with their success is either lying or naive. Luck is ALWAYS a factor – the right book, the right time, the author connecting with the right influencers to help boost their reach, and finally, being discovered by readers who will become super fans…this all requires an element of luck. Sometimes, people just can’t catch a break. But, that said, authors make their own luck by putting themselves out there. If you want to hear a knock at the door, you have to be close by.

Playing the game, but not getting why.

social mediaI know many writers who “do everything right” by pricing appropriately, paying for a professional cover, designing a website, blogging, getting on social media, running visibility events, book signings, speaking engagements…and they still don’t feel it’s working. A person can do every strategic thing right and still fail if they don’t understand and respect that their number one goal should be to connect genuinely with readers. Readers aren’t dollar signs, or Facebook likes, or book reviews…they’re people. It means treating them like people, caring about them like people, and enjoying that relationship without strings. It is about providing them with value when we can, and entertainment, a listening ear or whatever else is within our ability to give.

Being on social media is not the same as “getting” social media. Tweeting and blogging and posting to Facebook in ways that are only strategic, not social, means one is not using the platform as it is meant to be used. And if you don’t come across as genuine and interested, if it feels like a job to tweet and share…people sense it. They will (maybe) friend you and (maybe) retweet because it is the polite thing to do, but the depth of the relationship will only ever go so far. They won’t really care about what’s happening with you. That level of connection won’t be there.

(image: Nominalize @ pixabay)

Marketing to the wrong audience, or focusing on only a niche.

AudienceIf you are marketing your heart out trying to connect with people who love and need hammers by hanging out with golf enthusiasts, your efforts won’t yield much. Understanding who your exact audience is and what they need and want is key to improving your chances for success when it comes to finding readers. Think beyond genre. And in the same wheelhouse, if you are targeting the right audience, don’t focus on too small a group. A typical way authors do this is by concentrating marketing on other authors who write in the same genre. Yes, writers are readers, but at best, this is settling for a tiny slice of pie when the whole pie is available. At worst, you are damaging relationships with your fellow writers who may feel put off when you promote at them.

(image: openclips @ Pixabay)

A sub par book.

Simply stated, a lot of books are published that aren’t at the caliber they need to be to do well. Learning strong writing craft takes a lot of time and dedication. Some writers understand this and by applying savvy marketing to their quality book, they knock it out of the park. But with the ease of self-publishing comes a subset of writers who are hoping a quick upload to Amazon is their shortcut to success. Or they think quantity wins out over quality, and seek to get out as much product as possible to have a larger revenue funnel. But, if one is more focused on quantity than making each book better than the last, the saturated market offers a sobering reality: unless there is something special about a book, it generally doesn’t gain a foothold that lasts. There are just too many other good books to read.

 So, does this mean we should all give up? That the cards are stacked against us? Not at all!

I’m no expert and have plenty to still learn. But I’ve picked up a thing or two, so here’s a few sound bites:

senses 1) Write a book so good it fills you with pride. Never stop learning your craft. Always strive to do better with each new book.

2) Be genuine. Talk to people, start conversations. Build relationships and be present. This takes time and energy, but it’s worth it.

3) Only do what feels right via social networks. If you hate twitter, don’t use it. Remember to be social. Provide value in some way and be part of the community.

(image: john hain @ pixabay)

4) Figure out who your audience is, and find them online. Don’t just focus on other writers…unless that is your exact audience.

5) Learn to love what you do…not just the writing part, but the connecting with people part. Yes, even you introverts! The more you do it, the easier it gets, I promise. And when you connect with people, you find friends, supporters, and influencers, making your own luck!

6) Understand your personal strengths and what you have to offer, then offer it the best you can. Are you funny? Let it out. Have a knack for finding interesting content your audience will like? Share it! Be yourself, and be awesome.

7) Talk to other people about marketing. Ask for help. Offer help in return. Collaborate. We’re all in this together.

8) Try new things, take risks. Look at other industries and how they connect with their audiences. Don’t fear mistakes because they are simply opportunities to learn. Not everything will work and that’s okay.

caring9) Make it about your audience, not you. Put yourself in their shoes…shoes that are probably overworked, stressed, underpaid and over-promoted to. Do they need more spaghetti promotion thrown at them? Probably not. So how can you use social media to make a positive difference in their day to day lives? How can you provide content that entertains, supports or adds value? How can you make them feel valued?

(image: PublicDomainPictures @ pixabay)

10) When you give freely, it comes back to you. As self-publishers we have many hats to wear, and only so much time, which is why some authors struggle with the idea of doing something so labor intensive as “building relationships.” But taking the time is well spent, because when you form real connections with people and care about then, they care about you in return, and about your books and your success. Many end up helping in little ways, including telling others about your books. Word of Mouth is the most valuable marketing currency there is.

Additional Reading:

How Authors Can Find Their Ideal Reading Audience

How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book

What Social Media Marketing Really Looks Like

 

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

This entry was posted in Marketing, Platform, Promotion, Publishing and Self Publishing, Social Networking, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to A Book Marketing Truth Few Experts Will Admit

  1. Derek Murphy says:

    This is a great post! I agree with most of it, but am a little worried by “Write a book so good it fills you with pride.” This places YOU as the qualifier for “Good” – so a good book is whatever you’re proud of. But it’s possible to write a great book that you’re proud of, that nobody else is interested in reading. And that’s mostly why marketing fails. You can do a lot of fun things to market your book but you can’t make readers interested in a story they just don’t want to read (unless perhaps it’s a literary classic). I think the belief system most authors have, about writing the thing they’re passionate about, is probably the reason so many self-published books fail. If you want to be successful, you need to find your readers and write for them, not for yourself. (Those two can overlap, and that’s what people mean when they say some authors got lucky. They were lucky to write a book readers also enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be that way if you focus on the readers earlier in the process).

    • True pride comes when an author knows without hesitation that they have done everything in their power to make the book as strong as it can be…not when an author believes it’s good enough, or even ‘pretty close.’

      Taking the time to workshop a book, solicit feedback from strong critique partners (multiple ones), running it through the revision process many times and getting an editor…these are all necessary steps all authors should take before even thinking of uploading their book.

      A great many authors see self-publishing as a wonderful work-around that allows them to publish faster. And while self publishing can be used this way, it shouldn’t. Rushing a book never ends well. Not understanding writing craft, story structure or honing one’s skills (something that often takes years of practice, study and hard work) will not produce a book that sells well. So all I am saying here is to take pride in yourself as a professional author, take pride in the job you do, and respect the reader. They deserve the best product we can put forth, and so the words “it’s pretty good” should never be the goal we strive for.

      If a book is sub par, even the strongest marketing will only work so well. I hope that clears things up a bit.

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  10. I have found some successful strategies, sometimes by luck or as a side benefit of something else I was trying to do, but it seems to me, that every time I find one, some power in charge must view it as a loophole and shuts it down. By far, Amazon has been my greatest success, and my sales were climbing every month, no doubt due to their newsletter and the “you may also like” links on their site. Last December, this growth came to a screeching halt which remained flat through January and February, so I am left to assume that what I discovered was a mistake. Here’s to finding the next mistake.

  11. Flora M Brown says:

    Angela,

    Wow! You have hit the nail on the head more than once in this rich article. Thank you.

    The central theme of all you’ve shared is that we must each find what works for us. For every tip you’ve given, an author somewhere has done the opposite or none of them, and still enjoyed publishing success. (50 Shades of Grey, in spite of being subpar writing, is enjoying unprecedented financial success. This is where that elusive thing we like to call LUCK comes in.)

    It’s critical that we discover what success means to us. That’s the only way we’ll know when we’ve arrived.

    I aim to live by these tips you shared: be genuine, do what feels right, and give freely. These work not just in publishing, but in all of life’s endeavors.

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  13. Ian Martyn says:

    Thanks. Its good to read something that echoes many of my own feelings on writing, book marketing and using social media (I think the clue to ‘social media’ is in the title i.e. being social). Your blog also reminds me if some things I need to do better, especially when it comes to targeting my marketing effort. As a writer I believe you have to been in it for the long term. I feel my writing improves with each book/short story/blog I write. The hope is eventually that persistence will pay off.

  14. I think you’re right, most of marketing is luck and timing, beyond that, prayers help. A writer still has to put themselves out there as much as they can without spamming or becoming a pest. We just have to hope the characters and story catch on with the fans and soar from there.

  15. Linda Banche says:

    Angela,

    I agree with most of what you’ve said, but I find it very wearing to do the right things marketing-wise for years (most of what you say here) and still nothing works. I have 10 books, all sweet Regency romances with comedy. They’re not your run-of-the-mill romances, and maybe that’s the problem. But they’re all good because I make them so, but I can’t get many people to buy them. My first one came out 6 years ago, and I’m still making pennies. I’m very tired of having to put a good face on everything when what I really want to do is scream. And all of this failure has left me disgusted with writing, too, which is the worst part.

    I regret that I spent so much time on promotion, especially since none of it has ever worked. I would have been better off writing more books. At least I wouldn’t be so disgusted with writing.

    • Linda, I am sorry to hear you’ve worked so hard and feel your efforts are not getting that ROI. Do any of the reasons why strike a cord with you? I haven’t read your books or know if you are indie published or traditional published, but there is also something to be said for not letting marketing get in the way of writing. That is something I didn’t touch on in my post, but we all need to remember. Marketing has to come second to writing as we need to stay focused on always moving forward and writing the next book. 🙂

      • Linda Banche says:

        Angela, my sweet romances aren’t in style now. Now romances are filled with sex, the kinkier the better. I don’t to write sex. I write comedy, but no one wants to buy my funny stories. I have 5 books with a small press, and 5 indie. The indie books do better, but that’s because of the different royalty structure.

        I don’t believe this “connection” stuff works because I do this, and it still doesn’t work. And I’m pretty tired of doing it.

        • Linda, I am so sorry you are in this place right now. It definitely sounds like you need a break.
          If you are feeling “done” when it comes to marketing and connection, it will be noticed by your audience, and so it only adds to the frustration and feeling that marketing in this way is ineffective.

          It definitely sounds like you need to take a break from all of it, and focus on the parts of this career that bring you the most joy. If you are questioning writing all together, there is nothing wrong with setting that aside as well. Find other things that will help fill your creative well, and make you happy. Read books for pleasure, watch movies, garden, take pictures or whatever makes you feel connected to the beauty in this world. If you are meant to come back to writing, you will come back because you will feel compelled to sit at the keyboard once more. 🙂

          IF you decide to come back to marketing and want to try a different approach, I would recommend finding books by authors like you in your niche genre and study what they do on social media and in real life. I would look for a range–people who top the genre, ones that are in the middle, and new authors just starting out writing sweet romance. This might generate some ideas on what works in today’s market.

          I know it seems like sex sells, and in many ways it does, but this doesn’t mean sweet romance is dead, only that your specific audience might take a bit more effort to find and connect with. And if you are passionate about writing sweet romance, you should stay with it! Only try something new if that feels like something you want to do.

        • Ruth Kaufman says:

          Linda, there are at least a few blogs/sites just for sweet romances. Melinda Curtis, for example, writes a sweet romance column such as this for USA Today. http://usat.ly/1uRbKHX Maybe she’d feature your book(s), too.

    • Linda,
      If it’s any consolation, I follow your social media (FB) presence with awe and presume you are very popular and doing very well. You show so much tenacity in the way you stick at promotion. I admire you. I know its not easy.
      However, I have a writer friend in the UK who writes in a similar to genre to yourself and she sells exceedingly well numerically, and because of the sales numbers she makes a good income.
      She sells her books at a minimal cost but she adds another book ever couple of months. So I think your comment about spending less time on promo and more on writing is valid.
      Having a greater number of books for sale IMO is one of the main contributing factors to marketing ‘success’.

      • Linda Banche says:

        Thank you, Margaret, but I’m just putting a good face on things on FB. None of this “engaging with people” sells any books, at least not for me. I’m glad your friend is doing well, but other people’s success doesn’t rub off on me.

        Certainly, the more books the better. My productivity has slacked off immensely because I’m so depressed. I can’t see any reason to continue with something that hasn’t given me much of a return on my investment. I don’t expect to get rich, or even to make a living with my writing, but the pittance I make isn’t worth the effort. I intend to finish up two more books because they’re partially done, and then I’ll see if I want to continue.

        • Ruth Kaufman says:

          Linda,

          Are you a member of Romance Writers of America? I’m dedicating my next release to RWA and my local chapter and friends/contacts I made through the support and knowledge I’ve received.
          I’m not the only author who feels this way.
          If not RWA, maybe there’s another group that’d be helpful.

          • Linda Banche says:

            Ruth, I don’t belong to the RWA. I used to, but I don’t now. My experiences there were less than happy. I found no support, only a lot of criticism, both because I write sweet romance, and because I’m a poor nobody of an ebook writer. I can’t see any reason to go back.

  16. J. S. Bailey says:

    Great post! One of the hardest things for me is finding my specific audience. I know who they are (fans of supernatural suspense who are probably Christians); it’s just a matter of seeking them out and connecting with them.

    • Knowing who they are is half the battle I think. It can help to look at other authors who write for a similar audience, and see what it is that they do and how. Or even pop them an email…so many writers are terrific about helping others out!

  17. JL Oakley says:

    Enjoyed your post. So truthful. I write historical fiction so it takes a while to get things right, I focus on the quality of my writing. I’ve been very fortunate to have my first novel –indie published — to get national awards and then picked as a community read over in eastern WA and western ID. 7 libraries in 3 days. So much fun. My latest just went on a 4 library tour. I try to reach out to book clubs, invested my time at my wonderful indie book store and make it fun, in person, with readers. At each of these 4 very rural libraries, I gave talks on the novel’s historic background, with the librarian’s help did audiobook giveaways of my first novel . The librarians had sooo much fun. I sold all my books but I also made good friends. My novels are not on best seller lists, but they are steady sellers and I’m having a great time as a writer. A new novel should be out in late summer.

    • I love that you have been able to do so many in person events and made those face to face connections! Congrats on your success. It’s funny–I have 4 books out with two more out soon, sold over 100K in copies, have foreign editions, and yet I have never done a book release party other than online. The idea sort of freaks me out. LOL, I better knock on your door if I ever do an in person event! 🙂

  18. Lisanne Cooper says:

    Angela, once again you have made my head spin. There is so much valuable info here I hardly know where to start. But you make it seem a little less daunting, and I hope you don’t mind if I bug you periodically for marketing advice once my books are published.

    Your point about connecting on a personal basis with readers is well-taken. It’s made me consider merging my two Facebook accounts (personal and author) and taking my author page to a more personal level.

    Thanks for all you do. Because you are so genuine, I look forward to buying your books as soon as they come out, and because they are a wealth of information, I use them all the time.

    • Lisanne, you are so very sweet to post this. And yes, hit me up any time. I really do enjoy the marketing aspect of our business, perhaps because if I market well, I don’t have to promote myself over-much and it all feels so much more in my confort zone. I have never been good at the “look at me” stuff, so I tend to prefer ways I can just be me and add value and let things go from there. 🙂

      I don’t have a FB author page (but I do have one for WHW and post there occasionally when I find something I think is really helpful to authors). My personal profile is open to all–friends, writers, editors and agents. I like profiles because it allows e to interact much better than a page. I know some people have made successful pages, but again this comes down to deciding what works best for each person and where one’s time is best spent.

      • :Donna says:

        Angela, are talking about a facebook profile instead of a facebook page? I’m on facebook, but don’t do much on there. I also still find it a very confusing place to be which is why I’m asking. If there’s such a thing as an interactive profile instead of a page, maybe I wouldn’t be so reluctant about adding yet another thing to the too-many things I already do lol

        • You can set up a profile on FB, which is where you can friend people, comment on their walls, etc and be very social, or you can set up a page, where you can only interact with the people who “like” your page, and only through the post feed for the most part (you post something, they comment, you comment back, etc. but it all remains on one page.)

          here’s a link to a better description: https://www.facebook.com/help/217671661585622

          Here is the link to my WHW page: https://www.facebook.com/DescriptiveThesaurusCollection

          and my FB Profile: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaAckerman

          This will help show you the difference, and how my own profile is very active (lots of visitors, postings, comments) and my page is more me posting and that post being liked or shared, but not often commented on. This is because FB wants people with pages to pay to boost posts so people actually see the content. If you don’t pay, not a lot of people will see what you post unless it is a very active and involved page.

          • :Donna says:

            Thanks, Angela! I was just looking around on both to note the differences ’cause I never really examined them before. Now I understand the “like” thing. I didn’t know it “opened a door” in some way. I’ll be saving this info!

  19. You offer so much wisdom here, but I have to say that your books target and help writers, so therefore your target audience is the one that most of us in genres like memoirs, seem to appeal to. I find that many authors either coach other authors, or speak at conferences to help and sell their books to authors and that to break into actual readers, the younger YA authors, and fantasy, vampire, etc. authors do better. What’s your opinion?

    • Hi Sonia–since you posted this in our Gutsy Facebook group, I’ll cross post my answer here.

      Frankly I believe that centering one’s efforts mostly on writers unless one specifically creates books for writers (like I do) is not the most effective focus of marketing energy. The thing is, as writers, we all love writing (and some like me, marketing) but spending too much time teaching technique when you write anything fiction based is not the best use of one’s time. As I said in the article, it is like settling for a tiny slice instead of the whole pie.

      With memoir (your genre), I think it is a bit of a special niche (like children’s fiction) and so you may get a bit more for your marketing efforts targeting writers of memoir than you would other genres, but the principle is still the same. Memoirs are complex, and must be written a certain way to do well, and this means memoir writers are going to read a lot of memoir, and want to see how a successful author did it to learn technique. But when it comes to say, Romance, well there are millions of great romance out there to read and learn from, so convincing writers to read one’s romance as a learning tool is a lot harder. Either way, it is still only a subset of one’s actual audience.

      It is good to network with other authors, and to connect with them and form genuine relationships with them. From this writers can collaborate on marketing projects, share knowledge, support one another, offer visibility and share reading audiences if the books are similar. But this is not one’s READING audience overall.

      When you write fiction, or memoir, a person has to really look at who their target audience is. For you Sonia, yours could appeal to expats, people interested in the idea of moving to an exotic locale, or those considering (or being enchanted by) the idea of unplugging, uprooting and simplifying their lives. By extension, it may also interest parents (especially mothers) dealing with a difficult teenager who feel at the end of their rope and feel that only something drastic can turn the tide so to speak. It could also appeal to those who love to sail, and who would love to live on their boat or literally at the water’s edge to better use their boat, and probably a few other audiences. This breakdown is based on special elements of your specific book.

      Once a person can determine possible audiences from the special elements of their book, then they need to figure out which are the biggest, and how best to cater content and connect with each. Expats (especially expat women) are not necessarily going to to be in the same place online as parents dealing with difficult children. And yet, these are both two topics you could talk about at length because of your experiences. You could easily join communities, blogs, FB groups or tweet to these type groups with content that fit them both. This is a great way to leverage one’s skills/knowledge as it centers on a major theme in their book. Yes it takes time, but building relationships through support and friendship in this group could lead to you extending your reach, exposure opportunities on blogs that cater to your direct audience, and direct sales. All because you took an interest or area of expertise that you have which also is an element of your book and used it to connect with the right sort of people. This is how visibility opportunities can come up, even ones you have no idea are even out there (like an expat wife who has a husband stationed in Saudi Arabia suggesting your book be one in the rotation of her book club for example, just because she knows you, likes you and finds out you’re an author of a book that ties into her Expat life experience.)

  20. :Donna Marie says:

    Angela, this is true, I think, even if you’re not self-published. I’m not published either way, but do know how important this aspect of the journey is. I resent the time-suck, but not everything about it. I am so glad I’ve found kindred spirits online who I’ve come to really like and are basically attached to in this way lol One thing that helped me less resent having to do this was this wonderful blog post by author Marion Dane Bauer:

    http://www.mariondanebauer.com/blog/page/4/

    She’s been around a long time, and though she’s a kidlit author, what she says about authors and the internet/platform pertains to all of us, I think.

    • Donna, thanks for the link to that. This is a situation kidlit authors find themselves in, because unlike other genres, we (this is my fiction genre too) often have to market to gatekeepers who buy the books while wooing our actual readers. Kids aren’t online, and it can be tough. Success through schools is harder too as budgets grow tighter.

      I think that this is one case where time might be a better trade for money. For example, one thing an author could do that would greatly appeal to teachers and librarians and book clubs is to offer free skype visits. As an organizer, if you had to pick a book for your kids to read, and book A came with a free author skype, and book B didn’t, which would you pick? And, you are getting the chance to interact with one’s actual audience, which is a pure joy. 🙂

  21. Julie Musil says:

    Such great points! Putting out quality books should always remain our objective, no matter what. I’m proud of the books I’ve put out, and that’s what matters most to me.

  22. Brilliant post! I particularly liked this…

    Or they think quantity wins out over quality, and seek to get out as much product as possible to have a larger revenue funnel.

    I have lost count of the number of authors who keep saying you have to have a new release every 2 to 3 months. How is that possible without the quality of work suffering? I’ve also been told that readers won’t wait a year between books. But surely it’s best to wait until you have your story shining as bright as it can?

    Thanks for another great post!

    • Unless a person has written a bunch of books in advance before starting to publish, I think quality would definitely be affected. I am sure there are a few exceptions, but this isn’t a route I would choose unless I had a series written and ready to go before book 1 is released. Then it is a great marketing strategy.

  23. Angie Dixon says:

    Angela, thanks for this thoughtful post. I wrote and marketed my first book in 1995. Things have changed an awful lot since then, especially (in my opinion) for self-publishers like myself. But the basics haven’t changed, and you nailed them. Write an absolutely outstanding book, don’t do anything you’re not comfortable doing (social media or otherwise), write for your audience, market to the write people, connect with your audience….

    Yeah. Book marketing is hard. But I had a discussion with my dental hygienist recently. She asked if making it as a writer isn’t hard. I answered, “It is hard. But isn’t everything worth doing hard? Didn’t you work hard to learn to do your job? Don’t you work hard as a dental hygienist? Didn’t Dr. P work hard, and doesn’t he still work hard? My husband is a computer programmer. That’s hard. I couldn’t do it.” Our conversation went on, but this paragraph doesn’t have to 🙂

    The problem is not that book marketing is hard. The problem is when we think it should be easy and try to take shortcuts to make it easy.

    When we follow the principles you laid out here, book marketing is still hard, but it can work. And that’s what we need to strive for–not easy, but effective. Because “easy” is a waste of time, often money and sometimes reputation.

    And sometimes even I need to be reminded of that after 20 years.

    Thank you.

    • Angie, you hit the nail so to speak. If it is hard, it is worth doing. If it is easy, we don’t appreciate it as much. Being an author is not for the weak, and I think most know this, but what they don’t realize is that the work doesn’t get easier after hitting send. Shortcuts are rarely the smart choice, and they always require sacrifice of some kind. People tend to forget that. Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing your recent conversation about this!

      • Angie Dixon says:

        Yeah. I’ve tried some shortcuts, and I’ve made some decisions I would make differently now, and I’ve learned that the difficulty is part of what I love about it.

        I just started a new book called 10 Impossible Ideas Before Breakfast. I sat down with a bunch of blank pages, one for each chapter I expect to write, and just tried to think about what the chapters should be. I immediately freaked out and decided I had no idea and I couldn’t do this. But then I realized I always have no idea what I’m going to write, and I always find it. And yeah, it’s hard, but it’s so, so worth it.

  24. Great post 😀
    Stuffed full of excellent advice.
    Thanks so much, Angela 🙂

  25. Nat Russo says:

    A wonderful post, Angela! This definitely seconds everything I’ve learned about book marketing throughout the last year.

    Now I have to figure out how to target readers as opposed to other writers. This is something that has eluded me for some reason.

    • Thanks Nat! Targeting readers is all about understand what makes your book special…a unique element, theme, an interest, hobby, passion or idea it touches on, etc. There is something about your novel that sets it apart from all other novels like it in your genre. Think of it this way…if you write romance books and your characters/plot always have some sort of tie in to dogs (one is a vet, another runs a shelter for dogs, the love interest is a groomer, etc. then it would be fair to say you aren’t just targeting readers of romance…you’re targeting dog lovers who read romance. So jot down some ideas. Figure out what makes your book special. Then target groups that tie into that element or interest, and start connecting with them. My guess is that if you are writing about a special element in your novel, you are passionate about it and can add to the conversation, and find content that will appeal to this group of people too. 🙂

  26. Angela, this is such a fabulous, well organized post chock full of goodies! As one gearing up for a book release I have struggled with much of this. I just wanna have fun…on social media that is! I love Twitter and FB and while my son encourages me to get into Instagram (as my tween readers are there) I am struggling with it. I agree with letting your personality shine through and also shout out other folks – this goes far in how they can shout you back too.

    If we are supportive to one another via social media and ENGAGE – it snowballs. I struggled with Twitter until I organized folks into Lists and now LOVE to engage there! I can visit my lists and keep track of folks and its great. It makes Twitter manageable and fun and personal. Thanks for the great advice!

    • That is super–very glad this struck a cord. Marketing is strategy, but social media is social, so it really is important to marry the two. It definitely does snowball once we get the hang of it, and some tools can help with organizing, like tweetdeck for instance. That is an awesome way to group people into lists so you keep track of people and what’s happening in their world. 🙂 And the more you connect, the more opportunities come up all on their own. We make our own luck! 🙂

  27. Jewel Sample says:

    Your post is particularly relevant to me because it affirms my marketing experiences, which were well learned by the seat of my pants to bring awarness to my children’s grief and loss picture book.

    l found numbers six and nine to be of vital importance. I use my training in the field of Family Relationships and Child Development to connect with others. I would also add to your list speaking to target audiences in untypical places. I speak at university level classes to not only bring awareness, but to connect and show students resources available to them as professionals. I think connecting with university classes benefits both writer and budding professionals.

    My picture book, “Flying Hugs and Kisses” has been read and discussed in Sociology, English, Infancy, and Child Development classes. To name a few more, I have also discussed my book with grieving parents and their children, funeral directors, in churches, hospital parking lots, nail salons, restaurants, and alternative learning schools. I have come away from each encounter feeling rewarded. Many expressed gratitude for getting their needs met during a difficult time.

    Thinking out of the box is hard to do, until I learned that this practice brings some unexpected opportunities. For example, when I hung a picture of my book cover in my car window, it drew attention while being parked at a local restaurant and another time at a hospital. In leaving these places, people came up to me to discuss my book and asked where they could get it. Making your own mobile billboard works for getting the word out. Thank you for your post today. It confirms I have done many things right. I now wonder when is marketing done?

    • I think the marketing is never done, but once you build a community, you will find some things get a lot easier because so many people care and want you to succeed. Just always respect those connections, be genuine, a continually let people know they are appreciated through. provide value however you can, and live your brand. 🙂

  28. An enormous amount of good common sense is revealed in this article, Angela, along with the important idea of adaptability. I cling to the quote from Hericlitus that states: The only thing that is constant is change.
    Putting ourselves out there in the most genuine fashion will provide a sense of connectivity and fulfillment, and that in turn may just equate to a few more interested parties hungering to hear what you have to say.
    Cheers

    • Adaptability is huge. I think this is why it is always important to do check ins here and there to evaluate one’s marketing choices, and how one can better connect with and serve the audience. Finding trusted sources of information is very helpful too, especially when it comes to keeping up with the online market and changing environment of retailers.

  29. Judy Baker says:

    Thanks for sharing. I need to reread you blog and make notes to continue in that direction.

  30. Crane Hana says:

    I wish more writers would figure out the quality issue before they write dozens upon dozens of mediocre novels, publish them all without serious editing, and then whine about low sales and an invisible backlist. They don’t have ‘backlists’, they have cement blocks weighing down any newer, better writing.

    Quality needs to come first, whether an author is commercially or self-publishing. The rest of the marketing equation can follow.

    • It makes me a bit sad when I read a book that had it been developed a bit more, it probably would have gone on to do amazing things. This goes for traditionally published books and self published ones.

      But I do think that while it is a hard lesson when a book does not do well because of quality, it is a lesson that can’t be ignored for long. Writing takes too much effort to continually write books off the cuff in hopes that one will stick. And there is nothing shameful in developing one’s craft. I don’t think we ever should stop learning, or ever feel we’re “good enough.”

  31. Fantastic post – thanks for sharing all these great tips!

  32. Jillian Jacobs says:

    As a new writer with a background in marketing, I fully agree with everything you’ve said. Reach, frequency, impressions, everything adds up to build your brand. Keep your awareness high, but make sure the message is relevant. Continue to deliver a good product, and give feedback to those who reach out. Another great way to become a positive beacon is to focus on author collaborations. Thanks for this article. Very well stated.

    • Hi Jillian,

      I don’t have a background in marketing (I wish I had, and the lessons would have come so much easier!) but I do enjoy the marketing aspect of being an author. Promotion, not so much. But the real key is connection with an audience. Figuring out who is the exact audience for a book is the biggies, and then being genuine about reaching out to connect. Thanks for commenting!

  33. Angela,
    I’ve been sharing content on my blog and Facebook lately that I thought others might like. I was wondering if readers considered this a bit “lazy” since it wasn’t my original content. After reading #6, I feel better about continuing to do this. I appreciate your take on this topic. It helped me to feel I’m on the right track. I just need to balance the mix with original content too. Thanks again.

    • Sharing content you know your audience needs or will find interesting is a good way to start connections. When I started thinking about platform and marketing, all I did was share content. It took me time to realize I needed a balance between sharing content and letting my own personality out so people could get to know the real me. So I think as long as you try to find that balance too, it should work quite well for you. 🙂

  34. Great tips, Angela. So agree with you that it’s not a good strategy to market your books just to your friends or too much with your friends. Most of us tend to be in a circle of friends and then the same people are seeing your book over and over again. It’s not helping you or them.

    • Yes, I think as writers we see a lot of this “within a genre” marketing. It is because we already have formed connections with writers, so marketing our books to them is in the comfort zone. But I have seem relationships be damaged when writers show too much zeal, or expect a tit for tat when it comes to buying books, which isn’t the way to go about things of course.

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