If you’ve been in the indie game--or publishing in general--you’ve heard about email lists. We have several articles about them on this site because it’s the most effective way to build an author career.
But not all email subscribers are created equal. You may have noticed this already. If you have an email list of 7k that are all Freeloaders, you won't sell many books and might be frustrated with publishing and book marketing in general. That's why I wrote this article. I’m going to go through the different levels of subscribers how to get the ones you want and how to avoid the ones you don’t.
Outreach is the best way to grow your organic traffic and build your brand. Podcasts are huge right now so it just makes sense for authors to take advantage of this. Here are the things we’ve realized are really important after seven months of podcasting.
Book marketing can be a complicated beast but it doesn’t have to be. Your author platform is what you use to sell your books. Once you’ve designed (Or paid someone to design) a fantastic cover, and chosen the perfect software for your email list.
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.
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.
Social media is thrown around a lot as a powerful marketing tool. And it absolutely is. It is not however, all there is to marketing your work. Tim Grahl defines Marketing as building long term relationships with people and then being relentlessly helpful.". That’s all it is. If you walk up to someone and shout, “Buy my book!” chances are, they’re going to walk (if not run) away from you. So why do so many authors do this on Twitter and Facebook? Because they don't know how to market their work on social media. If you're not sure where to begin or are guilty of shouting at people, there's no reason to be ashamed. You're here and that shows initiative.
When you told someone you were going to publish a book or even just writing it, they likely asked if you were on social media and you rushed out to create your profile. But what kind of content should you share? I can’t answer that specifically. It will be different for each author based on their fans wants and needs. For example, if you write a book about healthy living, then recipes and exercise routines would compliment your book nicely.
Fiction writers tend to struggle with this because they feel like they don’t have a way to be helpful. But you do. Most fiction readers consume multiple books a month. When was the last time you published multiple books a month for more than one month at a time (there is a marketing tactic where you publish a whole trilogy at once but unless you can do that 12 months a year, it doesn't count)? Never? Me either. So I share my new releases and when I have sales in my books as well as other authors in my genere. While you’re at it be sure to tag the author. Most will return the favor.
The whole point of having your author profile on social media is to connect with fans right? So don’t be afraid to reply to comments and interact with people. Most fans want that. And if you come across a troll, block and move on.
When you sit down to find content to share think about what you like. Chances are you enjoy the genre you write whether its non-fiction or fiction, so use yourself as a guide and see what people respond to. You can also look at what you're favorite authors are sharing. As far as creating content, I'll talk about that in a future post.
Now that we’ve covered how to be helpful and talk to fans let’s talk about consistency and links real quick. There really isn’t much point in being active and helpful on social media if you don’t have it connected to your website, to where people can buy your books, and sign up for your email list. Social media is useless if you don’t connect it to the rest of your platform. Also Make sure you use the same name as the rest of your platform (Sounds obvious I know). And there is no bigger waste of time than social media. So connect it all. Make it easy to find you, reply to all the comments, and for goodness sake put links in the description of your book covers and if you have an image of all your books in a banner, link it to where people can read more and buy! One of the main objectives of marketing is overcoming objections. If people can find a reason not to spend money on your book, they won’t. Even something as simple as there’s not link.
**Something got a bit Lost in this post. Social media is a way to connect with people and build your email list. You can increase your sales but the effort for the amount of return isn't worth it. What social media can be used for though, is getting people onto your email list. Email list subscribers are much more likely to buy your book then social media followers.**
Marissa Frosch is the head of marketing at Amphibian Press and all writes under the pseudonym Cameron J Quinn. She is the author of The Starsboro Chronicles. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, blog and her website.
You've written your book, you've carefully chosen your categories and keywords, a few friends and family bought the book but for some reason, you just aren't seeing the sales you expected. I mean, your book is amazing! Why aren't readers finding it?
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle but here are a few places to start. As with all things, you need to be advertising and actively marketing your book. You should be planning and executing a marketing campaign once every ninety days or so. This can be Facebook ads and paid promotions like a Bookbub promo, but if you haven't set up your book properly, those things won't maintain their momentum. So, here are four things to make sure you've got right, BEFORE spending a butt load of money on paid advertising.
There you have it. Four things that are important to a book being able to hold its own in today's market. The competition is fierce and you need to make sure your book is up for the challenge.
Are you looking for help with your platform and book marketing? Marissa is now scheduling free publishing consultations! Click here to learn more.