Marketing Tips for Authors
Today’s topic, it was pointed out to me, isn’t really a reader geared topic, but in my experience many readers are either also writers or think about being a writer. Not to mention that as a fan of an author I am always interested in what they are doing in their business. Like those memes that show four pictures of an author with titles like- what my mother thinks I’m doing, what my friends think I’m doing, etc. Readers have a vision of what they think their favorite author does during their day.
So, onto today’s topic. We all have that picture in our head of an author waking up and going to their computer and happily writing all day, while birds chirp and our coffee is magically, never empty, and once we write our 10,000 words for the day, which by the way are all fantastic words,
and require no rewriting we can lounge in a sunny spot with our freshly full cup of tea or coffee and ponder our next best seller. Yeah, ok.
The reality, at least for me looks more like me getting to my desk, remembering I have a sale that needs to be promoted, or opening Canva to make a quick promo, and ending up making an entire run of various promos for the next upcoming holiday. There are days that words come second to selling the books we already have out. Why? Because the backlist is what pays for the upcoming release.
Gone are the days, when an author could leave those things up to some unknown person in an office in New York, who had an education in marketing and promotion. As an indie author and often as a midlist traditionally published author we are left with no marketing budget and all the responsibility squarely on our shoulders. I’m not whining…much, I’m just saying how it is.
To that end, it is always great to get advice on how other authors go about marketing and promotions for their own books. The following are the tips that I have found work very well for me. This list is not exhaustive of what I do, and it will depend if I am in a launch month or just having a sale, but these are the things I fall back on until I can afford to pay someone smarter than me to do it.
1) Paid promos on reader sites like Bookbub or Fussy Librarian: Every time I have used these types of sites for promotions, I see a return with sales jumping. If you can get a Bookbub feature, which is expensive, you will see the benefits of it. I try to get a Bookbub feature when I have a new release coming out. If not only boosts the sales of the featured book, but it also will bring attention to your upcoming release and all the other books in your backlist. And, to add to the win fall of scoring a Bookbub feature, I also practice promo stacking, where I use sites like Fussy Librarian and others to have features leading up to and following the day of my Bookbub. It can get costly, so have a strict budget and stick with it, but there are a lot of free sites to sprinkle in. I have had my best month ever when I had a Bookbub and stacked promos. And the Bookbub feature was for a free book!
2) Make sure all your promos and marketing material show your brand. My colors are a plum and various shades of pink. I have a style guide that lays out what colors I use, and also which
fonts I use. I also have a name logo that goes on everything. Consistency is key. When people see a color, or a font, you want them to immediately think of your promo, because it is similar. Once you have a reader thinking about you, when you aren’t in their face, you’ve done your job. I always smile when someone on Facebook tags me with a photo of Jason Mamoa, or even a meme about cake. I know I have done my job, because they thought about me, when it wasn’t about me. That is name recognition. You only get that with consistency.
3) My last best marketing tip is to come across as being emotionally available. We all know the
“idea” of the reclusive writer who likes his notebooks and reference binders more than people. That makes for good fiction, but in the world of social media, YouTube, etc. that isn’t what readers want. They want to think their favorite author would respond back with an emoji or a comment. I’m not saying you need to have an open-door policy to any reader who shows up at your house.
I’m saying that readers want to know you are just like them, and you understand them. They want to know that you too spill your coffee on your favorite pants on the way to your keyboard in the morning, or that you hate sitting in line at the bank. Hemingway, I think would not do well in the author world as it is today. It goes back to the golden rule. Treat your readers the same way you would expect your favorite author to treat you if you saw them at a book signing.
I never claimed to be a marketing expert, but I believe that to get readers you need them to see and be able to access your work, which means buying promos, and making marketing material, but to keep a reader who will buy your next book and recommend your last book to all their reading friends means the success of your author brand over time, which means regular book sales you can depend on.
I see my readers as my family and close friends; therefore, I try to treat them as I would someone I care about. Other than the fact that it is just the right thing to do if I had a brick-and-mortar store I would depend on return customers and want to make them want to return. This is no different.
As a reader what turns you off about some marketing attempts? What things draw you in?
Next up we have A.S. Fenichel