In this series and in my previous two-part series on Book Marketing Games, I’ve tried to pass along the best advice I’ve collected from various sources. You should understand that none of this advice is absolute. Our running theme has been that what works for one author may or may not work for another.
While the quality of the book is certainly important to its long-term success, many other factors come into play, some of which may overshadow the quality of the book itself: type of book; subject matter; author’s reputation, position, and background; geographic region (both where the author resides and the setting of the book); and a variety of circumstances that include timing and luck. I’m sure there are more factors, but if you look at recent bestsellers, both fiction and nonfiction, you’ll see how many of these factors came into play.
For any marketing campaign to have a reasonable chance of success, an author must take of as many factors as he or she can. In short, this means not sitting back and relying on someone else (your publisher, for example), luck, and hopes and prayers. You must take control of your marketing campaign and look for opportunities to find and promote to your reading audience.
At the end of this post, I’m going to provide several links to articles that reinforce much of what I’ve said and also tell what other authors have used and had good and bad results with–to prove that there are no sure-fire ways that always work for everyone. Each marketing campaign has to be tailored to the individual book.
I’m going to give you an example of an ongoing campaign for the newly released book On Two Fronts by Adam Fenner and Lance Taubold (my brother). I’m not using this blog as a trick to promote the book. Rather, I’m using this book as an example of what I consider a book and marketing campaign done right. Note that this is a nonfiction book, so the marketing will be handled differently than it would be for fiction. I’ll go into more detail about the differences later in this post.
At the outset, the authors determined not to take any shortcuts. Take a look at the book on Amazon at the link below.
The professionally designed cover catches the eye and captures the spirit of the book. The cover copy/synopsis is succinct and tells not only what the reader should expect, but also how this book is different from other books dealing with the same topic. Read the sample to get the feeling of the book’s genesis and tone. I edited the book and did my best to ensure a good job in that respect. The authors also read it again after my editing–always a good idea for authors because no editor is perfect. Hopefully the book is clean now, but I accept the responsibility for whatever was missed.
Adam and Lance now had a good product, but was only the beginning. Now the hard work began. Their next step was to think of as many cost-effective and time-effective ways (both are extremely busy people) to reach their audience. One thing they decided was that the book would come out in both e-book and paperback form, that latter initially through CreateSpace, but they’re no working on using Lightning Source because it’s easier to get print books into Barnes & Noble (who sees Amazon, who owns CreateSpace, as a competitor). Lightning Source is owned by Ingram, a major distributor for bookstores, including B&N.
Still, this only scratches the surface. If readers aren’t aware of your book, they won’t buy it. Their marketing plan included approaching the local newspaper, radio stations, and bookstores. Because of the book’s subject, they also approached the local Veteran’s group. To date, they’ve been interviewed and appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal, been interviewed on radio station KLAV 1230 AM where one person runs a bi-weekly program about writing and writers. And they have several other possible promotional opportunities in the works.
As I said in a previous post, every book should must have something that makes it different and sets it apart from others like it, otherwise why bother writing it? Shortly before they released the book, Adam realized that they had a way to make this book truly unique. During his deployment, he had taken many high-quality pictures and videos. The photo on the front cover has Adam in it, taken by one of the men with him.
Adam had the idea to put pictures and videos on the website at 13Thirtybooks. Further, he put the links to the pictures and videos (with sound) at appropriate spots in the e-book itself, so anyone with access to wi-fi while reading it could see them immediately. But he didn’t stop there. In the print book are QR-codes that can be scanned with a smartphone to access the pictures and videos. Therefore, they now had not only a unique book, but an interactive one. And that gave them an additional basis for their marketing. Check the link below for more details.
I realize that most fiction books won’t be able to use their specific approach for marketing, but authors can, with a little creativity, find something comparable to make their book stand out. Exploit what makes your book different from the competition. What local groups can you contact that might be interested in helping or supporting your efforts? Just remember that it’s a two-way street. Few will do it out of pure kindness while you sit back and do nothing.
Over and over we hear authors say, “I hate speaking in public. I don’t like promoting myself.” Well, if you have that attitude, you might as well give up on your book right now because you’re probably not going to sell enough copies to have made it worth the effort to write it. Unlike J. D. Salinger, who despite all his attempts to stay out of the limelight yet still managed to hit big with The Catcher in the Rye, writers who choose to play the hermit will discover that the reading public will gladly respect their wishes and ignore them and their books.
Indie-author advocates such as Kris Rusch and Joe Konrath, among many others, have said that if you expect significant sales of your books, you have to treat your writing as a business. This means you either have to promote your books yourself, pay someone (often large sums for no guarantee on returns), or find an advocate with the time and willingness to do it for next to nothing or a share of your profits.
If you expect to achieve success, eventually, you will have to find a way to reach beyond your local community. As promised earlier, below, I’ve listed four links to blogs and articles that will echo and reinforce much of what I’ve said in these three posts and will give you some additional ideas and guidance for promotion.
I’ll leave you with my very best advice for promotion:
–Think outside the box.
–Keep alert for unexpected opportunities to promote your work.
–Brainstorm ways to stand out from the crowd.
If you do these without coming off as needy, pushy, haughty, or self-centered, you might get results.