What Works, What Doesn’t In Book Marketing
Is your book marketing the same as it was a year ago? I know mine is … and it’s kinda not (I know, such a female answer). This article is solely based on my own personal experiences marketing my three books: A Walk In The Snark, Mancode: Exposed, and Broken Pieces (eBook and now in print from Booktrope, on Amazon).
(It’s worth noting that I paid up front for professional editing, proofreading, graphic design, and formatting — something I recommend any self-published author do. Booktrope covered those costs for print.)
Blogging. Google loves fresh content. There’s no question my Google ranking has gone up this past year by posting fresh content a few times per week on my two sites. And I don’t write it all — I invite guest bloggers, reblog (with permission), or update an old yet popular post. You can do the same.
Social Media. Many of you know I’m a fan. Social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook (and now more than ever, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram) are an integral part of my marketing strategy.
Do I tweet book links in every tweet? Heck, no. I do share book links every day or so, but in every frackin’ tweet or post? Nope. It’s annoying and awkwardly selfish. Social media is social for cookie’s sake — why don’t people get this? I still don’t know.
Advertising. Some people are fans of Google AdWords (like me), others are not. Whatever you decide to do, educate yourself. I make my husband do my Google AdWords (because it’s like math, which he digs, and um, hello? Writer here.) This right here, this is why advertising works. I’m not sure how Amazon and Google’s algorithms sync, but they do, somehow. If you don’t know what you’re doing with AdWords, you will be throwing money away. Hire someone to teach you or read free tips on TheAdWordsGuy.com.
WHAT I SHARE
Quotes: What do I share? I curate quotes that appeal to me — my aim is always to make people think and as I’m somewhat of a ‘dark’ writer, those are the quotes I tend to share. I’ve always eschewed ‘inspirational’ quotes — honestly, they just seem silly and from a branding perspective, don’t represent me at all. I also don’t share more than two per day.
Interestingly, several of my closest followers requested I share more of my own quotes (from Broken Pieces, and the next book in process, Broken Places) and I hesitated — is that too ‘me-centric?’ Will I be one of those annoying selfish authors who only share their own stuff if I start doing that?
No. I’ve learned that, shared with restraint, sharing my own book quotes offers a peek into my work and my mind. Again, the key here is restraint. Most I find on Goodreads — or I google a subject (quotes about passion, for example) and see what comes up. Whatever you do, don’t share a quote without attribution. Most people will google something if there’s no attribution and then you’ll look like an idiot.
Photography: Visuals absolutely get more retweets and shares than anything else (except for the occasional quote that pops). I peruse sites like Pinterest, National Geographic, TwistedSifter and a few others to find visually appealing content. I tend toward reds and purples because those colors subconsciously draw the eye in. No matter what you share, always give attribution (to the photographer and image source).
Be generous. The author and blogger communities are strong — get to know your fellow authors and bloggers by visiting their timelines, walls, blogs — interact, connect, retweet. This is how you start guest posting for others, doing interviews, being featured. Beyond that, you’ll make amazing friends! One of the best tools I’ve used the past few years is Triberr. It’s free and it connect you to other tweeps who also blog. I personally love it but many don’t. Try it — don’t like it? Quit.
I also started #MondayBlogs last year and it has blown UP. Thousands participate weekly and we generate over 5,000 tweets — just on Mondays! What do you do? Share any post (new, old, favorite, most popular, whatever) on Monday only — use the hashtag #MondayBlogs and we’ll retweet you. Without the hashtag, others who participate (tweeting and retweeting others’ posts) won’t know. I also own the Twitter handle @MondayBlogs so you can include that also if you want (not required).
Visuals. I discussed photography above, but there’s so much more you can share. Remember, your job is to curate great content — you do not have to share only original content. Share what interests you! (Again, always give attribution.) I’ve found that pasting some of my own quotes that people seem to like into a free program like Quizio or Pinstamatic makes it easy to create visuals from words. Very easy to share on Pinterest, Instagram, and of course, Facebook and Twitter, etc.
Groups: I’ve joined a few select groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goodreads (i.e., BestsellingReads — for only authors who have hit #1 on a list). I love the sense of community and support, and it’s a great way to connect with your fellow writers and share info. If it’s not a good fit or you find you’re too exhausted by the effort, quit. You won’t know til you try, right?
WHAT HASN’T WORKED
Contests. Listen, I try everything so I can either recommend things to clients — or steer clear. I’ve found that contests don’t do a lot for sales or site traffic — most people who enter usually only do the minimum required in order to win whatever it is (i.e., a Kindle), they rarely share the book link, and almost never review. I’m not criticizing — we all lead busy lives and some are just barely getting by. It’s an investment to share our favorite authors and books.
Expensive Promo Sites. I find it incredibly frustrating to pay a ton of money for a promo on a high-volume site (or with ‘millions’ of email subscribers) and get little to no benefit from it. If you want to take your book free (or on a promo) with Amazon, by all means do so (short bursts are better than a long sale). List it on as many free sites as you can, but save your hundreds of promo dollars participating in joint collective promos or these types of sites — listing is free on Author Marketing Club (use their free tool), and use the money you will save for AdWords or other advertising.
I’m sure many others authors have much different marketing tactics, and I welcome anyone to share and comment. Just wanted to share a short post on what is working, and not working, for me.
Updates: Broken Pieces is now published in print! Booktrope (fabulous hybrid publisher) signed me last August and my beautiful print copy came out this past week on Amazon. It will be on Barnes and Noble and other sites very soon.
Looking for personalized, customized help with your author marketing? Check out my services page!