There are a lot of myths around book marketing, which often come across as dressed up excuses not to bother with marketing. Like waiting to land a traditional publishing deal so you needn’t worry about promoting your own book.
I’m going to bust five of those myths for you right now, so you can quit the excuses and knuckle down to some effective marketing.
- 1Traditionally Published Authors Don’t Have to Do Marketing
Well, yes and no. No author has to do any marketing. But it’s pretty important if you want your books to sell. That’s true of trade published authors as well as self-published.
Here’s the truth – many publishing houses now assess the ability of an author to market their books before they sign them. Not only do you need to have a well-written book that’s commercially viable and ‘on-trend’ yet also special enough to stand out from the competition, you also need a platform in place if you hope to land a deal.
I am forever telling indies to start marketing ahead of publication (ahead of penning the first word if possible), but the reality is, it doesn’t cross most writers’ minds until much later.
Within trade publishing, only a select few authors/titles get the majority of the marketing budget. If you are a B or C list author, you’re unlikely to get much, if any, marketing support. In this case, you are in the same boat as any self-published author.
If you hope to land a publishing deal to avoid having to market your books, you better make it on to the A-list; but then be prepared to speak publicly about your books at events and to the media.
- 2Social Media Can Sell Heaps of Books If You Shout Loud Enough
Oh, how easy life would be if this were true. Quick heads up, social media doesn’t sell books (directly). What social media does do really well is provide a platform for you to connect with potential readers and talk about things that may interest them. It’s a great way to build brand awareness (let people know you exist) and to draw people over to your blog or podcast. But it’s not a place to shout about your books or be, um, anti-social.
Do you head to Twitter to find your next read? Perhaps you may learn about a new author or book there. But have you ever seen a promotional tweet and followed it through to Amazon and purchased? Maybe you have, but this behaviour is rare. Social media can help drive sales, by allowing consumers to engage with a brand or learn about a new book from a friend, so it should be a part of your book marketing strategy, but don’t rely on it for direct sales.
- 3A Good Book Will Sell Itself
1… 2… 3… Bear with me here while I count to 10. Okay, who actually believes this can possibly be true? It doesn’t make any sense – how can something that no one knows exists possibly sell?
Perhaps this is a misunderstanding around what marketing is. Marketing at its most basic is about moving something from where no one knows it exists, to people knowing it exists.
Sure, if a book is great, the word may get out quickly and its success will snowball. But that can never happen until enough people learn about it and talk about it so that it reaches critical mass and takes on a life of its own.
If you are holding a masterpiece in your hands, please market it, let the world know it exists, that’s the duty you have to your book, and to yourself as an author.
- 4I Need Press or TV Coverage to Sell Books
Seriously? What decade are you in? Yes, authors do still appear on TV but largely only from the major publishing houses, and even then only if they have a newsworthy story or compelling hook that conveniently ties in with something else the show is covering. These days there are far easier routes to reach readers.
Generating interest from the media is hard, even for those in the trade publishing industry and/or those who have contacts. It’s not impossible for a self-published author, but with such slim chances of getting any coverage, you would likely be better focusing your energies elsewhere. In addition, ad-hoc coverage doesn’t often result in a spike in sales.
Instead, put together a solid, realistic book marketing strategy that doesn’t rely on high profile media coverage. You can still reach for it and if it happens, great, but if not, you won’t have lost anything.
- 5Reviews Are the End All and Be All
Reviews matter, definitely. They are the social proof that convinces other book browsers to buy. The general rule is to aim for 20-25 at launch, but this is almost impossible for many new self-published authors. Does that mean they won’t sell books or ever be successful? No, it doesn’t. What it does mean is that they don’t have any loyal fans yet to ask for reviews, or have a contact list to approach (as a trade publisher would, for example).
While reviews help you to sell more books to people who land on your Amazon page, they aren’t what get people there. Use other avenues to let people know about your book and also use that first book to help you build an email list. Once you have that list, you’ll have a pool of fans to go to when your next book is out and you’re looking for reviews.
Stop the excuses!
So there you have it, five myths busted. If you find you’re telling yourself you can’t market your own book for X, Y or Z reason, stop obsessing over that one thing and do something else. I promise you that marketing matters, it’s important, and there is a way to do it that suits you.
…helps authors sell more books, so they can make much greater income and the impact they deserve.
As the founder of SmartAuthorsLab and a certified Book Launch Coach with Tim Grahl, Belinda helps authors build their all-important platform to form authentic relationships with their readers and also plans and coordinates effective book launch campaigns to help authors get their books into the hands of more readers.
Whether you are launching a book to support your business or are a self-published fiction author wondering how to stand out from the competition, Belinda can help. Grab your FREE guide: How to get your book noticed with fantastic results! & follow Belinda on Twitter @SmartAuthors.
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