Sympathy for the Devil...
...Or why marketing your book doesn't make you inherently evil.
So there's a name for a book that nobody ever reads or buys...
It's called a fucking DIARY.
If you've gone to the trouble of writing this book, which I KNOW will have caused blood, sweat and tears, and you are rightly very proud of -DON'T fall at the final hurdle and come over all funny about actually telling people it exists. C'mon.
When it comes to working out how to do the marketing for your book, it can make most authors grab fistfuls of hair and yell ‘for the love of all that is holy, wasn’t writing the bloody book supposed to be the hard part??’
Marketing is always seen as, at best, a dark art and at worst … well, cheers for that Bill Hicks (although obviously LOVE you). But when it comes to marketing books, at least you can tell yourself that you’re not exactly selling cigarettes to children.
So let’s start to eat a few small mouthfuls of elephant (can you see what kind of SEO nightmare I am?) and break down the process a little to get you going.
First off, I’m going to make a plea. I really can’t stress enough how important it is that you start thinking about this EARLY. Ideally whilst you are still writing the book, because you will get many additional benefits along the way. But if you’ve already typed ‘THE END’ then be prepared to give yourself some time to get this off the ground.
If you’ve watched any of my FB videos inside the Plan, Publish & Promote group you’ll know that one of my bleating refrains is urging you to take this seriously. If you want to make money from your book, then see this as a BUSINESS and do it right.
Right, now I’ve got the bossiness out of the way, let’s get stuck in. I want you to think of your marketing activity in 3 strands:
This is your audience that could be considered ‘warm traffic’. These are people whose email addresses you have or people who like & follow you on social media (and yes I’m aware that you don’t ‘own’ any social media followers, so pipe down). These people have voluntarily engaged with you. They want to know what you have to say, they want to be kept up to date with news about you, your business, your writing.
This is your tribe.
These are the people who, when you talk, they listen. It could equally apply to groups, communities & forums you are active in e.g. on Facebook or GoodReads - although take care that you are not operating in those places purely from a selling mentality, cos #DontBeADick
The bigger this audience is, the greater traction you will get when it comes to launching your book. Working on growing this should be a year-round activity for you. If you are an entrepreneur then you’re probably going to be doing this anyway but it’s just as important if you are writing fiction. You need to establish direct contact with as many readers as possible. (and for the love of dark chocolate digestives, please tell me that you're collecting email address or you DO NOT collect £200 when you next pass GO).
This strand is where you will be planning the ‘meat’ of your content strategy. It’s where you are telling your readers about your book and addressing the what, when, why and how of it all. This is the creative and fun part! There are standard things that you will communicate to them as you get closer to publication - like the title, a cover reveal, a teaser extract etc - to let them know it’s coming. But if you think about the content of your book, your message and your ideal reader, you can plan social content that will really whet their appetite.
So for example, If you’re a coach that is writing a book about transforming the lives of your clients and readers, run a goal-setting challenge in your Facebook group. Both of those things can be incentivised with a competition element to win an early reading copy of the book, which means - hello - pre-publication rave reviews. Win win!
When I’m working with someone on their book, I really want to get under the hood of the material and see what leaps out that is going to create engaging content that will appeal to their audience. We want as many people as possible willing and eager to see this book as a must-buy, and they are more likely to do that if they’ve engaged with the content in some way already.
If you are running your own business, then you’re probably used to planning out your social content on a calendar, but if until now you've been a big haphazard about it (*coughs* me *coughs*) then you need to smarten up your act when it comes to launching a book - no different really to launching a course or a group programme. Take it that seriously, I beg you!
People often ask me about the time frame for this. Well, it depends on how strong your stomach is. The longer this run up to publication day is, the more you will hate your book by the time it comes out. #TRUTHBOMB. Don't worry - you WILL fall in love with it again, I promise, but this part is about consistent, organised and repetitive work.
Because don't forget in this big ol' internet fishbowl, people won't see, or will forget, most of the content that you put out, so RECYCLE people.
I always think that 6 weeks is a good time frame to work to. Any longer and people will forget or lose interest. You can do it in shorter, but you may miss out on some of the momentum you can build and the chance to grow the audience you are reaching.
Now you absolutely don’t HAVE to do paid marketing (that’s advertising by the way). But investing in it will get you faster results. If you have an enormous and engaged audience of followers then you might find you really don’t need to. However, if you’re just starting out and you don’t have that yet, then this is a good place to start.
Because, as I believe I have said about 3 or 4 million times, you should be treating this as a business, you will be down with seeing this as an investment. You don’t have to spend a fortune, especially if you’re doing Facebook ads (or using Amazon’s marketing service), but the main thing is to know that you are measuring your results. You want to know that you are getting a good return on investment and that what you are spending is in line with what you are making in book sales (or new clients that have come to you as a result of this activity).
You can run these ads to ‘cold traffic’ (i.e. people who don’t know you) and if you’re putting the right message in front of the right people then you are gong to hook their interest and turn them into readers and fans. So to use our earlier example, our coach might target an ad to fans of a well-known thought leader with a strong call-to-action that will help that person solve a burning problem.
It’s probably best to run ads very close to, or actually on publication, especially if you are working to a limited budget. They have one job, and one job only, which is to drive traffic to your book on amazon and get someone to hit that ‘buy’ button.
This is one that is sometime overlooked but can be one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal. PR is essentially getting other people to talk about how great your book is, instead of you banging on about it incessantly.
Securing PR for yourself means that you are going to have to pitch yourself and your book to third parties in order to convince them that what you have to say is going to be useful, interesting or entertaining to their audience.
I would recommend starting this as early on as you can, because it can take a while to get things in place and you are at the mercy of other people’s schedules. Interviews and podcasts can be pre-recorded and then things run close to publication. You may even be reaching out to people before you've finished your final draft.
Thinking about your dream press coverage is something you should do before you even pick up your pencil...
So you might be targeting blogs & podcasts to get a guest spot, or even national and local media to get coverage. Don’t forget offline - your local paper or radio station could be really interested in a business story. Yes, it’s harder when you’re writing fiction, unfortunately ‘local author writes a book’ isn’t much of an angle these days, so you will need to think creatively about what your hook is.
Always remember that it’s about what value you are delivering to that third party’s audience, not what they can do for you. Do some really careful research into what media your idea reader consumes and work up a plan of attack for who you’d like to get coverage with.
Back to our example; our Go-getting coach could score herself a guest interview on a podcast targeted to female entrepreneurs. (I feel like I should bring back imaginary Olivia at this point) or find herself a local mums group to offer to speak at.
But a note of caution on PR. Even the most sparkly coverage is not massively targeted. There are going to be lots of people who hear or read your message that couldn't be less interested in you. So don't be disappointed if it doesn't trigger an avalanche of sales. It certainly *CAN* be very very effective (and is very very essential) but you might find the results show up in different, unexpected ways.
So. That's a whistle-stop tour through the 3 big pillars that are going to make up your book launch promotion strategy. See how it really doesn't have to be daunting OR evil?
Thoughts? Questions? Come say HI over on facebook and ask 'em!
In the meantime, does all this talk make you think 'Shit, I really need to get my book on and smash the heck out of my business goals this year?'. Then I've got you covered. Download the 7 Steps to a Book That Means Business and get started today!