The Never-Ending Marketing Game
Creating a multifaceted marketing plan can include participating in contests, getting reviews, doing radio and TV interviews, selling in bulk, speaking to groups, attending book shows, and connecting with people through blogs and online forums. It can be time-consuming and tedious. But without a solid plan and consistent effort, your book is unlikely to get the attention it deserves.
When choosing how to divide your already-divided time, consider how much exposure or value you’ll get from a single activity. For example, winning contests can be a good way to get publicity, and the larger the contest the more exposure you’ll get. Winning a national contest can offer huge credibility. (That said, don’t underestimate the value of regional contests for building up a reputation locally.) However, entering contest after contest can be laborious and expensive, so make sure the contests you choose will benefit you, not just the contest sponsor.
The real point of all your marketing is to get your books in the hands of as many people as possible.
Engaging bloggers and reviewers should be a significant part of your marketing plan. Read this post on getting reviews for some specifics on how to put together an enticing book package. Your review request should include a copy of your book, press release, list of potential questions for an interview, topics you’re willing to write about as a guest blogger, an offer to allow them to post/print an excerpt, etc.
So, should you give away free books?
In a word, yes. Give away as many books as you can. Consider it part of your marketing budget. In truth, letting people read your book (for free) is one of the most effective marketing strategies you can use.
One question people ask is, Who should I give a copy of my book to? You may have a limited number of review copies to send out. In that case, start with people who are most likely to read and review your book—and who have some clout.
“Clout” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the editor of The New York Times (although that would be fabulous!). It could be someone with purchasing authority for a school, school district, company or church. Ideally, you want to sell your book in bulk… it’s less effort on your part than selling one by one, and it creates a buzz within a niche! If people love your book, they’ll talk about it and help you get the word out.
Single-copy sales aren’t really that important in the long run. The hard truth is that it’s rare for authors to become wealthy based on their book sales alone. More often, the real money comes from speaking engagements, coaching clients and projects acquired as a result of the “expert” status achieved by becoming a published author.
One more thing: Never ask a reviewer to pay for a book. You’re asking them to promote you… to their friends, family members, co-workers, boss—everyone! At a minimum, that’s worth a free book.
If you really can’t afford to send a hard copy (or if you run out of hard copies), send a formatted PDF. If you’re concerned about your e-book getting into the hands of too many people for free, consider the success of The Alchemist. Author Paulo Coelho says free/pirated copies of his book helped boost his sales.
Networking & connecting with people who will promote your story
When it comes to networking, it’s impossible to be everywhere and connect with every possible reviewer/book buyer. Gary Vaynerchuk gives some great advice about building a platform and really connecting with people in his book Crush It!, however, he also offers the disclaimer that it’s hard work. He spent hours in the early stages of his career focused on making connections and building those relationships.
My advice: Choose a handful of credible sites with large followings and start there. Make meaningful comments, engage in real conversations. Others may recommend being involved in as many forums and blogs as possible, but unless that’s all you have to do all day, that’s not realistic.
Tip: Save time by using Hootsuite as a tool for managing multiple accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook).
For excellent advice on marketing and building a profitable life as an author, I highly recommend Dan Miller’s Write to the Bank LIVE Event. Dan offers a wealth of advice based on real-life experience as a best-selling author.
Marketing your book is a never-ending process. Develop a plan that works for you, your personality and your budget. Then, think of it as a game; the more you play, the more you’ll win!