Book Marketing Online: Building An Author Platform
In these modern times, it is easier than ever for writers to publish your book. Book deals with big publishers and agents are no longer an essential part of becoming a successful author.
In the past, finding a book deal was the hardest part of getting published, today the biggest difficultly lies in getting consistent sales.
With the increase in self-published books has come the demand for book marketing online.
Book Marketing Online Myths
Along with the rise of book marketing have come myths and tales about how unexciting, time-consuming and expensive marketing can be.
Many writers listen to ‘experts’, whose only real goal is to make a quick penny, and gamble on adverts; pumping money into the slot machine hoping for the jackpot. It very rarely comes.
This often leaves writers confused and demoralized.
The publishing and marketing process should be as satisfying as writing. It should be possible for writers to develop long term sustainable writing careers without breaking the bank.
K.I.S.S is an acronym for ‘keep it simple, stupid’.
This should be your mantra for building a book marketing strategy.
Start to see book marketing online as an author platform consisting of four key elements:
1. Social Media.
2. Author Website.
3. Mailing List.
The idea is that you capture the reader through social media, offering a consistent and unique identity in which will appeal to a dedicated readership. By creating regular, quality content on social media you will grow engagements and a community.
Use social media to link to blog posts relevant to the book genre you are writing in (e.g. reviews of similar books or films) that you’ve posted on your author website.
From this create a mailing list and an email capture form to put at the bottom of your blog posts. Offer an incentive, such as a free story, to entice readers to sign up to your mailing list.
Finally, once you have gathered a mailing list, create a newsletter with great content which also promotes your book and even offers a discount on Amazon.
When marketing your book, you must build a genuine connection with readers on social media, requiring you to approach your followers in the correct manner and with the correct mindset.
No matter what anyone tells you, always be yourself. Promote messages you generally believe in. Readers can smell lies from a mile away. Not only this but if you are genuine you will be consistent and being consistent is essential.
Although book marketing online is not this simple.
You need to know your readers. I don’t mean what age they are and where they are likely to do their weekly shop. I mean their mindset; what they believe and what they fear.
One mistake many writers make is that they believe they must portray themselves on social media in a way that will match their readership.
This is a mistake.
The ONLY way to successfully create an author platform on social media, over the long term, is as yourself. However, if you are able to present yourself in an honest, clear, and consistent manner, then you will start to attract readers that match your views.
This is a critical concept.
There is already a large group of potential readers out there that think like you and LOVE the books you want to write.
They already exist.
There’s enough of them to make your book a success, you don’t need to convince anyone else to buy your book. You just have to find them or, more accurately, attract them to your author platforms.
How do you do this?
Treat it as though you were a detective. Analyze them, think like them.
One trick I can give you on how to market a book is to find similar writers and influencers to yourself, then follow readers from their social media. This way you have access to a pool of pre-selected potential readers.
You can also search for hashtags and topics. Use polls to do your own research. Search the web for database reports. There are numerous options out there. Just find what fits you.
Book Marketing is all about using your instinct and thinking outside the box. Use your author platform to provide excellent knowledge or support to your surrounding community.
Lots of ‘experts’ want you to believe that they have cracked the code, but it’s a lie. They know that success is as much about creativity as it is about following the rules.
For hacks on how to quickly gain a following on Twitter as an author visit our article here.
Remember, the first stage of building a sustainable long-term readership is to create a persistent, honest, clear, and consistent message, which will, in turn, attract potential readers.
Once you gain a readership marketing a book online will become easier due to your growing support.
You have started to develop a social media presence, it’s time to think about the next step. This is to direct potential readers to your website.
This is the second element of your author platform.
However, you face one big problem.
Let’s say you are using Twitter to build a following. There’s a good chance your potential reader is looking at Twitter on their phone, happily scrolling away. The issue you face is that if they are on Twitter, they don’t want to leave the platform.
This means that to make them leave the app, you need to present a very convincing argument. The best way to do this is to offer quality content that they are not getting on Twitter. Something that is so amazing they have no choice but to click away.
The nature of this content will depend on you, your book, and your readers. It might be a blog post, or perhaps exclusive information on your book or even a video interview. It might even be a free download of a short story, or even a full-length novel.
The key is that you are overcoming the inertia of leaving the app by offering something of so much value that they can’t help but click.
Perhaps that’s why you are reading this post. It might be that you saw the link on social media and were so intrigued that you clicked the link and ended up here. If I did my job correctly, then I am providing so much value that I have made it worth your while.
When your readers reach this author platform it’s time to focus your effort on the ultimate goal of selling your book.
The first thing you need is to gain trust. There are lots of ways to do this and hopefully, you will have already developed some level of trust from social media. One thing that it is essential is that your website looks professional.
Tips to make your Website Look Professional:
- Make sure your color scheme is appropriate. Create a color scheme on https://coolors.co/ before implementing on your website for best results.
- Make sure that your fonts look right.
- Makes sure the site is responsive (does it look ok when you look at it on a mobile phone).
- Make sure you have an about page that portrays your identity correctly.
- Make sure you have a contact page that also links to your social media accounts.
- Make sure your navigation is clear and easy to use.
This is just the start, take a look at this link for more ideas.
Assuming you have trust, the final step is to give something away in exchange for an email.
One mistake writers make is that they assume a potential reader giving you their email is a trivial interaction, it is not.
It is a sale!
The reader is deciding if the thing you are giving away is WORTH the price of the email.
When the reader gives you their email, they are doing so knowing that, at some point, you will be emailing them in return. They are giving you permission to contact them. You are not giving you permission to spam, but you are giving them some level of permission.
This means the interaction is not free, it is a sale.
Therefore, like any other sales, both sides need to be happy. You need to be giving something away that is worth the price of the email. When marketing a book only the potential reader can decide if the value is high enough.
Writers often assume that just throwing up a form to collect emails for a newsletter is enough. It’s not.
The reader knows nothing about your newsletter. How often will they be getting it? What will it contain? Will you be trying to sell them something else after two emails? It’s like trying to buy a car without a test drive.
You need to give the reader a reason to give them your email, just assuming they will be interested in your book is not reason enough.
What do you give away?
The answer is that it depends on you and your readers. However, one thing to remember is that you are trying to create a mailing list of potential readers. That means you need to give away something that readers of your book will love.
There’s another way to think about this, you are also trying to give away something that will put off everyone except your potential reader. It’s no good giving away a free writing workshop if your target market is fantasy readers NOT writers.
One very common approach, and one that works well, is to giveaway either a short story, a free chapter from your book, or even a free eBook. Many, many writers have built their careers on using free eBooks to develop a mailing list.
Once you have emails you are not far away from direct sales.
You have gained the reader’s interest through every step to this point. However, the skill is in how you approach the sale. Sending one, needy sales email could evaporate all the trust you’ve earned.
I recommend a simple approach to closing a sale. Send five emails over the course of two weeks. Space them apart by a few days.
- Email 1: Start by welcoming them to your group, society, community, call it whatever matches you.
- Email 2, 3, and 4: Next, explain the process you took to make the book, tell them about the hardship of writing, and also your inspirations, ask them a question, get a response. Do this over three emails. You are trying to build trust and connection. This is building on all the hard work you put in over social media and your website.
- Email 5: Finally, you send the big one. The whopper. Write an email asking them to buy your book. Be direct. Say why you think they will love your book. Be honest. Perhaps copy in a couple of reviews. Put in a link to your Amazon page. Remember to tell them you’d love to hear their feedback. People love to be heard. Be creative and thoughtful.
If potential readers are on your Amazon page, then you are 90% of the way but the sale is still not complete.
It is essential that your final element of the author platform, Amazon, is meeting your potential reader’s expectations.
There are hundreds of really good articles about how to create your Amazon landing page and you should read as many of these as possible. One thing worth particular attention during your research is the blurb for your book. However, in regard to closing the sale, there are three key areas that need urgent attention.
Title and Book Cover
Your cover and title should match the genre and reader’s expectations. These are the first indicators to the reader that they might like your book.
Readers will come to your blog knowing what they want to read, your book’s title and cover should match these expectations. If you have been developing a clever social media message, targeted content on your blog, and well-written emails, then ONLY readers that like your book will be pushed to the Amazon page.
The genre you write will have certain cover images and title formats that are common to the genre. You need to match these formats. Don’t try to be clever. This is not a time to stand out from the crowd. Your book should look very much like other books in your genre, but different enough to be distinct.
Amazon doesn’t use genres, they use categories. Your book MUST be placed in a category that meets the reader’s expectations. This is just one more way to reinforce to the reader that your book is right for them.
As a general rule, try to do two things. The first is to place your book in a broad category, which still remains in the book’s genre. The second is to place it in a smaller sub-genre, in which you have a chance of rising up the charts and gaining that bestseller status.
The harsh reality is that you need reviews, and as many as possible, as quickly as possible.
Having no reviews makes selling your book very hard indeed. You are asking people to take a gamble on your book with no clear indication that it is worth their time. It is a special type of reader that will buy a book with no reviews.
If you are yet to gather reviews for your book, then hold off pushing potential readers to your Amazon page. Yes, this is a chicken and egg, since you need sales for reviews, but it is better to save your nurtured potential readers until your Amazon page is the best it can be.
You get one shot at sending them to your page, don’t waste it.
There is a lot of information in this article, but one thing that you must hold in your mind is the idea of consistency.
Consistency between your author platforms.
This is the main thing to take away.
You must be presenting a clear, consistent, honest, and cohesive message on all platforms; all of your platforms must match.
When book marketing online engaging with your readership is key as well as providing quality content which draws a readership through your author platforms.
Book marketing online is all about building trust and generating long-term sales.
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