Are you one of those authors who feels overwhelmed by book marketing? Do you feel exhausted by the long list of things you have to do to promote your book, frustrated that none of them actually seem to work and fed up with everything costing money?
If you are, I’m here to tell you: you’re doing book marketing all wrong. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming or exhausting, not if you use an effective strategy.
Not a day goes by without me seeing another author complaining about book marketing – the time it takes, the ineffectiveness of it all or the icky feelings they have about it because they feel pushy or salesy.
It frustrates me and breaks my heart in equal measure because it really doesn’t need to be like this.
There are two things that you need to understand about marketing:
I have talked about what marketing is and isn’t many times before, so I won’t go into that again here. But if you want to learn how to feel better about marketing, I suggest you check out my post on The 3 Simple Principles Behind an Author Platform.
Instead, I want to focus on strategy, and how it differs from tactics. be.
A strategy is the overall plan you put in place to reach your goals. The most obvious objective is to increase book sales, but there are a number of other goals you may have that will ultimately lead to an increase in sales. For example, growing an email list or improving brand awareness.
So before choosing your strategy, you must first set your objectives. This is like tapping an address into your sat nav (satellite navigation). It doesn’t matter how clever the device is, if it doesn’t know where you want to go, it can’t tell you the best way to get there. But once you give it a place to head, it will work out your best route – that’s your strategy.
Tactics, on the other hand, are the tools you will use to reach your goals. Continuing with the sat nav analogy, this is the decision you make about whether to head to your destination on foot or go by car.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t make a sensible decision how to get there. Whether on foot or in a car, you will simply travel in circles in the hope of reaching your destination, not that you even know where that is. A tactic is pointless if you don’t know why you’re using it and it’s not tied to a specific goal.
For example, if you’re ‘doing’ Twitter, why are you using it? What is the ultimate goal? Is it to sell books (not a good idea), is it to build a community of fans? Or is it to connect with other authors?
Twitter may or may not be a good tactic for you, but if you haven’t tied it into your overall strategy and linked it to a specific objective, it’s very unlikely to be effective.
#NaNoProMo Day 18: Do You Have an Effective Book Marketing Strategy by @SmartAuthors - Be sure to comment to win a consultation with Belinda (Value $197)!
Your strategy is your game plan. When deciding on a strategy some things to consider are:
For some authors, they know they want to build a following and plan to blog, use social media and send regular emails.
Other authors want to keep things as simple as possible and only use the marketing tools offered by the retailers, perhaps alongside some paid advertising.
Both are valid strategies, but they will require different tactics to implement them.
If you have plenty of budget but very limited time, you may prefer to use paid advertising methods. If you have more time than money, then free tools such as blogging may suit you better.
Some authors write faster than others. Your strategy may be to publish every 4-6 weeks, but another author may find publishing twice a year is plenty. Again, neither option is wrong, but each author will need to use different tactics to promote their new releases.
It is unwise to try to copy another author’s marketing tactics if they have a different publishing schedule to you, or they have a bigger or smaller following, or even if they are writing in a different genre. You need to find the strategy that works for you and your readers, and that strategy will dictate your choice of tactics.
Tactics are all the tools and techniques available to you that can help you to reach your overall marketing objectives. It should be clear by now that not every author should use every tool and some will be more effective than others depending on what you are trying to achieve.
Some examples of tactics are:
Within each of the categories above, there are multiple options. For example, social media includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, GoodReads and many, many more. Even if you choose to use social media, you will next need to decide which networks to be active. If you don’t use a tool effectively, you may as well not use it at all, so only take on only as many as you can manage well.
I see authors discussing tactics all the time with no real understanding about how to use them or why. For example, I see authors ask how to start email lists, as well as what to send and how often. These writers are starting a list because everyone says that a list is essential. I don’t disagree, but how effective will a list be if you don’t know why you’re growing one or how to communicate with the people who signed up to receive emails from you?
Before you start using any new tactic, ask yourself why you’re using it and what the goal is. Then think realistically about how it will fit into your overall strategy, and how it will help you reach your main marketing objectives.
If you don’t know the answer, it’s time to either learn more about the tactic, or to move on and stick with what is already working well.
Using a bunch of random tactics is not a marketing strategy and is unlikely to help you reach your author goals.
Without a strategy, you have no idea of what you’re trying to achieve. You don’t know why you’re doing the things you’re doing and have no idea of how effective they are. That’s what leads to frustration and exhaustion, and it’s also what leads to ineffective book marketing.
As you add in more tactics because you can’t see enough progress with the ones you’re already using, you experience overwhelm and burnout.
Having a well thought out strategy means you can achieve more by doing less and can track the results of your marketing activity. Book marketing will always involve hard work, but you are more likely to reach your goals more quickly and have more fun getting there if you follow a clear strategy.
Hopefully, I’ve explained the difference between strategy and tactics and now you’re fired up to get your marketing strategy in place. Here’s a quick recap of how to go about it:
Want more help with your book marketing strategy? Book a free Book Marketing Breakthrough Session with me to talk through your challenges and what your best next step should be.
Comment below to win a one-hour consultation with Belinda on marketing strategy (Value: $197)!
…is a Book Marketing Success Coach teaching indie authors who struggle with book marketing how to attract their ideal readers who will fall in love with them, so that they can confidently achieve much greater exposure and sales. Belinda runs SmartAuthorsLab where authors embrace experimentation, to see what works for them.
Grab your FREE guide: How to get your book noticed with fantastic results! & follow Belinda on Twitter @SmartAuthors.
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.
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