Chip MacGregor

July 21, 2014

Ten ideas for book marketing you (maybe) haven't thought of…


Someone emailed me and said, “I feel like I keep hearing the same stuff when it comes to book marketing. What if you did a post where you offered some NEW ideas? What would you say are the things we haven’t thought of?”
Okay, I’ll take you up on the challenge. Here are ten things authors ought to know about book marketing, but many don’t…
1. When selling your book, don’t just limit yourself to Amazon.  Sure, they’re the biggest ebook retailer and the research suggests they probably sell about 60% of all digital books… but that means 40% of the market is buying their books elsewhere. So get your book onto B&, get it into the iBookstore, make it available at the Kobe bookstore (which is just starting here in the States, but a big deal in Europe and Asia). If you work with Smashwords, they’ll get your book onto all those other sites, by the way.
2. Insert ads into the back of your current backlisted ebooks, promoting your new, soon-to-release title. It’s called “cross-selling,” and you need to be thinking about it. Sticking an ad for you new book into the back of your current one helps get the word out to people who are already reading you, and build interest in your title as it launches. Most authors won’t do this because it’s a pain, sticking in a new page in the back of all their old books. But it works – it helps you sell books.
3. If you want to become a smarter marketer, track your current marketing. If you keep track of your blog numbers, for example, you’ll begin to see what topics generate readers. But many authors never really check to see which marketing is working and which is not. They do the things they are comfortable with, instead of doing the things that their research has proven effective. Does your social media activity generate interest? Does offering something for free on your website generate a bunch of requests? Does having a contest create excitement and sales? In my experience, most authors think they know, but many haven’t actually tracked the data to find out what really works when it come to marketing their books.
4. Have a “buy” link for you book on your blog, your website, your social media, and anything that brings readers to you. Giving potential readers a clear path to walk on, a clear method to purchase your book, is part of good marketing, and it’s a part that is often overlooked. Many authors want to focus on getting the message of their book out, but they need to also focus on making it clear to everyone who visits how to purchase a copy. Make it easy for them.
5. Try bundling some books for a short time. Take three of your books and sell a three-in-one for the price of one book. Sure, you’re giving up money on a couple of sales, but those may be sales you wouldn’t make because readers are looking for value. Often “value readers” will buy a bundle because they see it as a deal too good to pass up — so you’ve made a sale you otherwise would not have made.
6. Buy an ad. I know… all those Amazon authors have told you that you don’t NEED to buy an ad for an ebook. They’re all telling you to get onto Facebook and do more social media. But we’re still a visual, ad-based culture. So check out the cost of BookBub or RT or BookRiot. Check out the cost of working with Google or BlogAds. Explore what they’re doing on One Hundred Free Books. Publicity is marketing that is free; advertising is marketing that is paid for. Sometimes it’s worth it to invest in the advertising side of things.
7. Share the facts of your book with your non-social-media network. Yeah, yeah, you’re tweeting and sticking stuff onto Pinterest and you’ve set up a Facebook page. But what networks do you belong to that might be interested in the fact your wrote a book? Have you had done a talk at your church about your book? Did you send something to everybody in your alumni association? Contact your local radio stations to suggest an interview? Propose a “local boy makes good” article in your local newspaper? Offer to speak to the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs?
8. Work with other writers who you know are completing books and create a sampler. It will have the first chapter or two of your book, and maybe samples of half a dozen other writers in the same genre. Then you give it away for free to as many people as possible. You could even print up copies very cheaply through Lulu and hand them out. But whether digital or print, make sure you have a clear method for the reader to purchase the rest of your book.
9. Drop the price to 99 cents for a few days. I’m not one who is crazy about giving away a ton of copies any more — I think there are readers out there with a ton of unread free ebooks on their kindles. But take your ebook and make it really cheap for a few days… so cheap that readers just can’t say no. Don’t leave it sitting there at one price forever. Do the occasional daily deal. Or do a holiday weekend deal. Mix it up a bit, which will force you to stay on top of it.
10. Throw yourself a party when you  bat .300. (I realize not everybody understands what I’m talking about, so stay with me.) In baseball, every time a batter goes to the plate, they keep a statistic called an “at bat.” If a player goes to the plate ten times over the course of a couple games, and gets three hits, he or she is batting .300. That means they failed seventy per cent of the time, but they succeed thirty per cent. Understand the math? Over the course of the season, any batter who gets a hit thirty per cent of the time, and has a batting average of .300 will be considered a HUGE success. A player who batted .300 for an entire career is almost sure to land in the Hall of Fame. In other words, guys who fail seventy per cent of the time at the key element of their sport are considered heroes. (Think about this: The last guy to hit .400 in a season was Ted Williams, arguable the best hitter ever, and that was back in 1941. He failed at the plate sixty per cent of the time… and nobody has been able to duplicate his record in more than seventy years!) So if about 30% of the stuff you do seems to work, throw yourself a party. Don’t sweat the 70% that didn’t work — focus on the 30% that DID. Then go repeat it.
What marketing wisdom would you have for other authors?
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  • I’m doing about half of these things: 1, 3, 4, 7, and 10. Number 10 is really important, in my opinion, whether it’s an actual party or just pausing long enough in our efforts to note when something worked. Feeling successful is the key.

    How important do you think it is to collect and use email addresses at author events? I have collected them, but now I find it so tedious to do the data entry to make them usable. And if you do think this is a good marketing tool, how often should an author send an email to the people on the list so as not to overdo it?

    Thank you very much for this wonderful blog. I just discovered it tonight. I so wish you were taking on new clients. I am Ira Wagler’s female counterpart. I left the Amish — when I was twenty and again when I was twenty-three. (I’m not yet as successful as he is, but I like to think there is that potential). I’ve written two books, “Why I Left the Amish” and “Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds.” I’m writing a third. I’m hoping to find a traditional publisher for this one.

    I look forward to reading more of this blog.

  • Nick Kording says:

    What do you think about just hiring someone to market your book… is it worth the money?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      It can be, Nick. I’ve talked about that on this blog in the past. Basically my advice is to figure out what you need done, see which parts of it you can do, and hire people who can do those other things better than you.

  • Stacy Chambers says:

    I love the “insert ad” tip. I often read books that have the first chapter of the next book inserted at the back as a teaser. This is a great idea.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Stacy. And easy to do if the book is already up. One tip: Talk with someone who knows how to lay out an ad, so you basically can create a one-page ad for your new title.

  • Great stuff here – I’m looking to publish the traditional route so the first portion doesn’t apply so much — but I love tips #7 and 10… as a non-athlete I had no idea that batting .300 was actually such a low statistical success rate! Let’s celebrate our successes rather than brooding over our failures!

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