I wrote a post over on my author blog RachelintheOC.com about how self-promotion sucks because, in all likelihood, you’re doing it wrong. Maybe you’re not and you can relax and not yell at me, so go sit down and take some deep breaths. But if you are one of those annoying authors who is repeatedly spamming your book links and has nothing else to say but, “Buy my book!” all over the place, take a sec:
It seems screamingly obvious that you think quite a bit of your writing because you want everyone on every social channel to purchase it. Heck, we all want that, right? Yet all you seem capable of writing are spammy messages. So…what’s that about? You not only disappoint your readers, but you disappoint yourself — you are better than that. You need to stop being that puppy who pees everywhere (gratuitous cute puppy picture below). Let’s discuss how to focus your content to engage with readers.
FOCUS YOUR CONTENT
I loved doing this correspondence interview with Project Maven Deborah Pannell:
because we got down to the nitty gritty about finding your audience, and focusing your message for that particular audience. If you ask most authors what their demographic is, most will say, “Huh?” and I was in the same boat when my first book came out. How do you choose among, and find, the millions of men and women who read all kinds of different books — who is your ideal reader?
Here are a few ways I’ve found useful:
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, because once you upload your work to Amazon and other sales platforms, your work is out there, up for review. Why not find out before it ever gets there? Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t trust your voice — not at all. Feedback feeds our writer’s soul. If you are too afraid to receive feedback from the general public, how will you handle reviews? Now is the time to grow your thick skin, my friends.
The other benefit of social media before release is that you are building those critical relationships and connections with your readers. Many authors come to me after they release their book and can’t figure out why it’s not selling. They haven’t established any relationships with readers, bloggers, or reviewers, yet are still completely flummoxed as to why their book isn’t flying off the virtual shelf.
How can you sell a book to an audience who doesn’t know you exist?
Not sure what to blog about? I hear that a lot. Well, you don’t have to write about writing unless your book is about writing. Most readers can give a flying fig about pronouns, font choice, or how you choose character names. They are more interested in you, author person. What are your passions? What drives you? Who are you? What are your quirks, interests, what makes you human? Those topics are far more interesting than how many words you write every day or whether you use a Mac or PC.
It’s not all about me. By sharing quotes, articles, and opening my platform up to others, I connect with people who may or may not be potential readers. Not everything we do has to result in a book sale, but it can result in a connection, a relationship that may at some point lead to a sale. The point is to focus your message so your readers can find you, and engage with you but more importantly, you with them.
*Read how this guy, Mark Dawson, made $450,000 as a self-pub’d author:
“The combination of having a loyal fanbase that always leave glowing reviews on your book’s landing page (user recommendations being one of the most powerful forms of marketing), and driving new customers to said books via large-scale Facebook advertising ($370/day) has created a very lucrative business for Dawson. He’s done what he could never do with a traditional publisher because he can exercise complete control over the entire process. (Source: Forbes.)
TYPES OF CONTENT
As I mention above regarding what I share — referred to in the business as ‘content marketing’ — a term that sounds big and scary but really isn’t. Let’s define content marketing:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)
Here’s a screenshot of my current author Twitter bio. Notice that my book link for Broken Places is easily visible. That is intentional, so there is no reason for me to spam “Buy my book!” on my stream:
WRITE, WRITE, THEN WRITE MORE
Ultimately, yes, you want to sell books, so you need to write them. You can’t sell a book that doesn’t exist. So how do you balance it all? It’s not easy, I won’t lie. I struggle daily to make it all work. It’s already almost the end of April and I’ve done very little work on my own two WIPs for Booktrope. Given that I’m now directing the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, run my own business, am a mom, the communications director the non-profit Stigma Fighters, senior advisor of social media for AuthorBytes, and promoting my own new release, believe me, I get it. What did I forget? Oh yea, sleep.
A few tips:
Hey, we all need a break. I have an excuse: social media IS my business! I have to be there to check on the more than thirty + pages I manage — if I wasn’t on Facebook, I’d be in big trouble. But even I have to turn off social media to get my writing done. In fact, I turn off everything, all social media to get the writing done, even if it’s just for fifteen-minute increments. Make it work.
The advantage to scheduling is that you input your content when you have time, it goes out in scheduled increments instead of a flurry all at once which fills people’s streams with all your stuff, and you can still interact live. Hootsuite makes it easy to interact live (I prefer Hootsuite as opposed to Tweetdeck — which is limited to Twitter and Facebook only — because you can also schedule to your personal Facebook, Facebook page, Google+ page, LinkedIn, and a few other applications). There are a number of social media management options — use whichever one works best for you.
Listen, do what you want. If you don’t want to schedule anything, don’t. All I’m saying is that the combination of both works well for me and my clients. I absolutely believe you should interact live when you can, but you need to also protect your writing time.
Get in the habit of taking notes, even if it’s on a scrap of a napkin that you throw in your backpack. Many times, we are so overwhelmingly mentally saturated that we will forget some of our greatest ideas or thoughts as the next tweet flies by. You owe it to yourself to take a few moments to write down your thoughts. All that you need is there, floating by in your brain — find and gather it all together amidst the chaos.
Bottom line: engage and focus with others, but also with yourself.
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All content © 2017 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.