There’s this thing lurking in the author community. It’s a little bit of misinformation. Not the malicious or deviant kind. In fact, most of the time it’s given with the best of intentions. However, it’s still not accurate.
One the most common questions I get as a book marketer is “When should I start marketing?” and the normal answer, others like to give is “When the book is done.”. That makes a lot of sense and takes a load off the people who hate marketing anyway but if you want your first book to make a splash and reach a lot of readers, then that’s a huge mistake. Unless you’re comfortable sitting on it for a few years while you build up your platform.
How much money do you spend on advertising? How about promotions? Do you experience a bump in sales only to have them drop off again? Do you ask yourself “What’s the point?” More than once a day? I’ve been there too. I worked my way out of the habit of spending money to barely make it back (if I did make it back). It was hard. The temptation to get that high from seeing sales in your dashboard is incredibly powerful. But if you want to build a business that will last you need to find those core fans. Organic traffic is the word of the day here. How do you get organic traffic to your site? That’s where strategy comes in. Long term goals and things that will grow your readership over time. Ads, promos, and even keyword optimization are all examples of tactics. They have their place in the grand scheme that is book marketing but you need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Is what you’re doing helping in the long term? If you get someone to buy your book do you have permission to contact them about your new release?
I was giving into resistance the other day on Twitter and saw that Belinda Griffin of Smart Authors Lab wrote a post on her key takeaways from our time in Nashville with Tim Grahl. I really clicked with Belinda while we were there because we were both freezing in the AC, so every lunch break we went for a walk before sitting down (or not) to eat. I’d been wanting to write up something similar but was at a loss about how to go about putting that experience into a single or even a series of posts. So I read Belinda’s. Her takeaways were completely different from mine. Which is possibly one of the best things about the whole trip. So here are my key takeaways from my time with Tim and I’ve linked to Belinda’s below. Please read both posts and let it all soak in.
All these posts have been to help you set up Tim Grahl’s Connection System. So how do we connect with readers? Through outreach to influencers. Outreach is how you drive traffic to your newly optimized site and get new subscribers to your list and new readers to your books.
You’ve heard the term content creation and content marketing. But what is it and why is it? The what of it all is exactly what it sounds like. You create content, blogs or otherwise, and put it out into the world to be consumed. But why? As you know already, email lists are king in the book world. But how do you grow your list? You create content as mentioned before, share it in your newsletter and then ask them to share it.
You need money to market or your book wont ever be seen.
I hate this myth in particular. I talk about Tim Grahl, Joanna Penn, and Nick Stephenson a lot on here. The reason for that is they’ve done it. They are more successful than I even want to be. Tim is so successful that he had to find twenty people he could train so he’d have reliable coaches to send the people he can’t help to. When he started out though, he had to ask his parents for money to get by. The full story is in his new book, coming out in July and he mentions it on The Story Grid Podcast and possibly Book Launch Podcast. The reason I bring this up though isn’t to share Tim’s painful past it’s to show you how people with drive and a desire to make it in this industry can and do. Nick Stephenson also started out with nothing and now makes more money than I would know what to do with. Joanna Penn saved up enough for her to go six months and she had to make it or go back to work. That’s pretty motivating. And she was looking at going back when she started to make money. I’m on my way up using these techniques, following these people, and I’ll share my own story soon enough (hopefully real soon if you know what I mean). I’ve made such small simple changes and already my business is growing! Readers are finding me and I actually know what to do to keep them engaged and looking forward to my new books. And all this without spending a penny on ads or promotions.
When you first start out hiring a personal or virtual assistant might not be in the cards for you. I understand. Before you even think about paying an employee, make sure you have systems and automation in place. With the proper systems and automated tools, your platform can act as virtual assistant and be bringing in new readers as you write your next book.
Here’s what you should be doing:
What is your main goal as an author? Whether your answer is to make money or reach readers with your work, the tool that can help you achieve those goals is an email list. In Your First 1000 Copies, book marketer Tim Grahl gives several examples of how email lists are more effective in selling books than social media (Read Social Media for Authors: What Does the Data Say? and get the facts). There are ways to use social media but we’ll talk about that later. For today I’m going to focus on email lists. I wrote a post about how to set up your email list and a post about using giveaways to build grow that list so I’m going to focus on how to use your list today.
The very first thing you need to do as an author is create a website.
My posts on Platform have a bit scattered so I’ve decided to redo them with Book Marketing 101 titles that will allow you to follow along easily.
What is your author platform? It’s literally anything you will use to sell books. Your website, email list, social media etc, all live under the platform umbrella.
In a previous post I spoke about what pieces can make up your platform so today I want to talk about what your main goal needs to be.
Are you looking for help with your platform and book marketing? Marissa is now scheduling free publishing consultations! Click here to learn more.