That’s the golden question of many authors new to the market–including me. Fortunately, even those of us who have never published a book before can use the internet and its knowledge in giving us the need-to-know aspects of earning (not buying) our audience.
For you specifically, using Google and other search engines may be your best bet in learning how the marketing process of books work. I came across two articles (from Business to Community and ArtsHub) that share some helpful advice on marketing procedures. Some of their advice ranges from knowing who buys your book vs. who reads it –to– establishing an active platform for readers / buyers / etc. to engage with you (i.e. directing your audience to a dead Facebook or Twitter account isn’t ideal) . If you want to learn more, I would definitely recommend giving them a read–at least some of their key points, if not all.
There is no strategy set in stone for book marketing, because every author / writer has their own tool set for how to engage their audience and sell their product.
Still, there is some general advice to keep in mind:
- Do some research on your key audience. If you’re writing a mystery novel, what books are people currently interested in and why? What should you do in order to make your own mystery story one that will appease them? The easiest solution to this is researching reviews online, but nothing beats some face-to-face interaction with a friend of yours / a professor / etc. (You could turn to getting feedback from your family as well; but them supporting your work no matter what may not make them the first people you choose for honest feedback on what’s working vs. what isn’t working for your story.)
- Devise a marketing strategy. And I don’t mean create videos of advertisements (or use Twitter to say something like, “My new book is out! Buy now at only so-and-so percent of its retail value for a limited time!”). The age of social media has transformed the spectrum from customer buys product to product buys customer. If your book can’t buy their attention, then find out what isn’t working. Ask them what engages them about a book / its author / etc. And yes, how the author acts or carries their reputation is just as pertinent. Is the author approachable? Do they respond to fans? Do they invite the engagement of their fans (through questionnaires, poles, surveys, etc.?)
- Don’t get over-confident after making a lot of sales. Remember what made everyone want to buy a copy of your work; what strategies you employed to keep them engaged and feeling connected with what you had to offer. Sitting back and letting your social media channels turn to inactive statuses may harm you in the long-run when sales are decreasing and you need a new strategy that will–oh, yeah! That’s right: don’t think that one size fits all. One marketing strategy could earn you many fans and potential customers, but may not last forever as your book will often find competition with other books and sellers. This is what brings us to our final step…
- Develop a SWOT analysis. This analysis helps the content producer / seller / business / individual learn their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. To elaborate, your strengths could be that casual personality you carry with others / your way of responding to comments, questions, etc. in a reasonable amount of time. Weaknesses could be your lack of knowledge in certain aspects (though not all) of the book market, or your inability to use certain social media platforms / channels. Opportunities could range from a business / author / etc. wanting to promote your work–and you should certainly respond to them as soon as possible, even if it’s with a “Sorry, but I cannot…” kind of statement. (I too have had to do this before, but still expressed my interest in accepting the offer at a later time.) Threats are those other authors / businesses / publishers / etc. who are working in your same industry–maybe even your same genre (for example, mystery books). Keep an eye out for what they’re doing to promote their works and grow their target audiences. Where do your strategies stand in the spectrum and how can you improve them?
Of course, if a strategy you’ve been using so far has kept you on par with the standing of other businesses / authors / etc.–those “competitors” of yours–certainly don’t try to change it. In fact, the strategy you’re using–even if it’s not getting you where you want to be–could have the potential to make you stand above (though not all) other authors of your genre. Giving things some time to play out is sometimes the best advice an author can follow.