Two Secrets to Successfully Marketing Your Book

Recently, I attended a workshop on LinkedIn about how to use the network effectively. Prior to starting the training the presenter mentioned that in addition to helping clients with marketing, he had also written a children’s book. As someone who has written six (soon to be seven) children’s picture books, I was interested. After thumbing through his book, I asked if he knew about a trendy bookstore down the street that had a children’s section and often had events for emerging authors. He answered that he knew it but that when he approached the owners they weren’t interested in his book because it was self-published. I didn’t tell him that the same bookstore carries my books. They are self-published as well. Want to know my secret?

The Secret to Success in Marketing Your Book

I believe there are two secrets to success in marketing your book.

Identify your ideal client. Too many authors spread themselves thin trying to reach out to everyone. They sign up for every vendor booth at every festival, approach every bookstore and blast the entire internet with book promotions. Certainly you will get some sales this way but I believe a better way is to first identify who your book is really directed to and then seriously market to that audience. For example, if you’ve written a children’s picture book on character development as I have, who do you target as your ideal audience? I target educators, school counselors and other practitioners who are interested in helping children solve problems and become leaders in their lives. Does that mean that I don’t sell any books to parents or doting grandparents, aunts and uncles? Of course not. But that’s not where I direct my marketing time.

~Bottom line: Know your ideal client so well that you know how they think, what their pain points are and where they hang out. Then communicate with them there.

Develop a relationship with your ideal client. This doesn’t mean that you approach them once and ask them to put your book on the shelves of their store, or use the book in their classroom or in their practice. It means you begin the relationship by understanding who they are, what they need and asking how you can help them. Many times the answer to how you can help doesn’t involve using your book… at first. When I found the bookstore that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I started by attending every author event I could at their store. I bought books there. I talked to the owners about their business. I learned how bookstores operate and their feelings about self-publishing. I presented at an emerging author event. I invited all my friends to attend the events there as well and told everyone what a great little bookstore it is. I let them know that I was a writer, that I wrote children’s books and how much I appreciated their contribution to the community. I never actually asked them to carry my books but eventually they asked me.

~Bottom line: Just as you probably wouldn’t go out on a date with someone who approached you randomly at the check-out in the grocery store, don’t expect someone to purchase your book just because you approached them and asked them to. We buy from people who we trust, like and have a relationship with. So target a small group that you are genuinely interested in and care about, build the relationship and then know that the sales will come.

Here’s the ironic thing about the disappointed children’s author and the LinkedIn workshop that I attended. The main focus of the training was how to use LinkedIn to develop relationships, not just blast people with your skills and connections. Sometimes what we know to be true in one arena of life, we forget to apply to others. Think about the last time that you bought anything. Value is certainly important and is a necessary ingredient. But equally important is the relationship and the sense of being appreciated in the sales transaction. If you build trust and connection into your marketing plan, you will find the success that you are seeking.

[guestpost]Lynne Watts, Ed.S. is the author of the Wyatt the Wonder Dog Book Series; books with an empowering message for children. As an elementary school counselor for twenty years, she helped children solve hundreds of problems much like the ones Wyatt is faced with in the Wyatt series. Through the Wyatt stories and her weekly blog, she hopes to empower many more children to become successful problem solvers and leaders.

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