Thursdays with Amanda: Don’t Believe These 5 Book Marketing Lies
There is nothing easy about book marketing. Nothing.
And yet if you spend any amount of time reading up on it, you’re led to believe otherwise. Posts and comments tend to make it sound like a walk in the park. Do this and that and that again and voila! You’re golden.
And then you try this and that and that again and … crickets.
It’s easy to feel as though everyone has marketing figured out, while you struggle to get a single follow, a single like, a single comment on your blog.
Because it’s so hard, we naturally come up with reasons as to why it’s not working for us … or why it is working for others. And we come up with excuses as to why we haven’t put together a strategy or why we haven’t called in some marketing favors.
These excuses and reasonings may make us feel better, but we’re ultimately hurting ourselves and our careers. A book that isn’t marketed certainly isn’t going to sell itself. But a book that is marketed has a fighting chance.
And a chance is all it takes.
5 BOOK MARKETING LIES as gleaned from the writers I’ve talked to over the years.
1. I don’t have a book, so I have nothing to market.
I hear this all the time from aspiring writers, and while I can see their point, the issue here is that they aren’t viewing the situation properly. If being an author is a career and your books are your business, then that makes readers your customers. The best way to connect with customers isn’t to throw marketing and sales pitches at them, saying buy, buy, BUY! Rather, it’s the relationship that counts in the long run. So if you’re an aspiring historical fiction author, hang out with the historical fiction readers! If you’re an aspiring romantic comedy writer, find where the lovers of all things chick flicks and How I Met Your Mother and Bridget Jones hang out. Spend time with them. Develop relationships. Get them reading a personal blog of yours that touches on topics that interest them. This is how you market without a book in-hand.
NOTE: If you write nonfiction, your entire career is based on your platform. This means you need to have a substantial following before you even begin the submission process. Why? People buy nonfiction because they have a need or they have a question that needs to be answered. Nonfiction books present solutions. No one wants advice or a solution from someone they’ve never heard of! They want tried-and-true. So all you nonfiction folk, it’s important to establish yourselves as experts. You need to be somebody to some people.
2. Book marketing is expensive.
If you hire someone to handle it for you, then yes. It’s expensive. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can do marketing yourself. I promise. It just takes some time and perseverance. And if you choose to focus on online marketing, as opposed to traveling around (expensive!) and selling books out of the trunk of your car (costly AND time-consuming!), then you really can get going on this marketing thing with no more expense than the cost of Internet.
If you want to get serious about marketing and need a little jump start, check out my book, The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform. I promise it’ll give you some ideas and make the whole marketing thing feel DOABLE.
3. Book marketing takes away from my time to write.
For a few, this is probably true. Life really is too crazy for and these writers barely can get writing time in amongst all their other responsibilities. But for most, it’s all about priorities, and while I’ve met plenty of authors who say they don’t have time to market, I’ve also found that those authors somehow always have time for their favorite tv shows, etc. (And because we’re storytellers, most authors follow numerous TV shows every season! Not just one or two). So is it really that you don’t have time to market? Or is the issue that you’re unwilling to move around/give up other things in your life to make room for marketing?
AND let me point out, that if in order to make room for marketing, you feel you need to cut into your writing time, then that is very telling as to where writing falls on your list of priorities…right at the very bottom.
Something to think about. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have down time or entertainment time. I’m just saying that for many of us (myself included) that time takes up way too much of our week.
4. My efforts to market my book go nowhere. It’s a waste.
It would be great if marketing efforts always got immediate results. But they don’t! That’s not how people shop. Think about the last book you read that was by an author you didn’t know…
Chances are you didn’t run out and buy it the first time you saw an ad or the first time a friend mentioned that it was good. You didn’t add it to your shopping cart the first time you saw it on BarnesAndNoble.com or the first time you spotted it on the shelf. Instead, it was only after you’d seen it in a number of these places that you realized you should probably check it out. And even then, the act of actually buying the book was probably the result of some coupon or some promo or some final piece of marketing that pushed you over the edge.
This is why marketing takes time. People are choosey about their books. They are especially choosey about the books they spend money on. So keep at it. The more touchpoints you can have with your potential readers, the faster you’ll be able to push them toward making the purchase decision.
5. Publishers aren’t going to be impressed by my silly ideas and pathetic numbers.
If you write nonfiction, then yeah…this isn’t a misconception; it’s truth. But if you write fiction, an author who is doing something is a million times more appealing than an author doing nothing. So while you may feel as though your numbers don’t impress and your strategies are n00bish, remember that fiction houses aren’t always expecting to be blown away. They just want to know that you think of this like a business. You recognize the need to try. And you’re willing to do what it takes.
When it comes time to presenting your platform, try to think outside the box. Try to show your growth over time or show examples of strategies that you believe have worked in the past for you. If you can communicate that you’ve had some success and that you are on the right track, then you’re going to be able to position yourself as an author who is moving forward. And no matter how small your actual numbers, it will cast you in a positive light.
My husband works in development for a non-profit, and he often says his job is about developing relationships. When you mentioned our marketing is about relationships, a light bulb turned on for me. Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for this post, Amanda! I recently started a blog and have experienced some of the challenges you described. I think the most difficult obstacle for me to overcome to start marketing without being a published author was having to put myself out there and call myself an “author” (or at least an aspiring one) without anything to show for it yet. My tendency is still to think of marketing as applying to a particular product rather than an author as a person, but I’m working on adjusting my perception by reading things like this 🙂