Marketing for writers can be a royal pain to figure out. Whether you are just starting out and simply unsure where to start building your brand, this article is for you.
Have you heard there is no sure thing in publishing? It’s crazy, isn’t it? Well the only sure thing in publishing is that someone already well-known could sell a book. That’s why the Big Five focus on celebrities, sports figures, and politicians — those with an established platform. I’ve had more than one book agent tell me that other than name recognition, word-of-mouth, and Oprah, they don’t truly know what sells a book. They package up a boilerplate publicity package bundled with book signings, book talks, and a social media ad buys. Then do you know what happens? They hope. I was appalled. But don’t worry. I have an idea!
In today’s super social media-saturated world, it’s hard to figure out where to focus your marketing energies. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Kik, Strava, LinkedIn, Goodreads. Where to even start?
Here’s what I’ll tell you. Start small and be as efficient and focused as possible, so you can create an effective marketing plan for your book. My thesis on marketing for writers is built on four things:
- Develop a website
- Focus on one social media platform
- Learn ads
- Build an email list
Marketing for Writers Tip #1 – Develop a website.
That alone should be enough to warrant you building a site. Everything you post on social media belongs to the social media site and that should bother you, because your content could be gone without warning at any time. Secondly, you need a place for a bio with a hi-res photo available for downloading for when you give talks or do interviews. Your website should be a repository of all things needed for a media kit. Additionally, it’s just ubiquitous. Authors need websites because readers expect it. It increases your professional credibility, especially if you plan to do anything besides sit at the kitchen table and type words.
- WordPress is the one I use and recommend. However, Weeby and SquareSpace are probably easier to use.
- Don’t pay for templates until you have a marketing budget. Use the free ones; they’re pretty user-friendly.
- A basic website needs a bio, a pic, your books and how to find you
- The main page is where most visitors go and most writers lose their audience. Make this page spectacular.
- Be concise, use photos and think like a reader when you build your main page.
Marketing for writers tip #2 – Pick ONE social media outlet.
While most social media outlets have morphed into niche issues, Facebook continues to be the outlet with the most diverse group of users. Young folks may have abandoned it to Snapchat or Instagram, but the latest statistics in the English-speaking world show that more than half of American teens still have and use Facebook. The platform boasts 2.2 billion users worldwide; 68% of Americans who use the internet still use Facebook. There is no trend analysis showing that will change in the next ten years. The best way to use Facebook is to create a Page and pay for ads. It will yield followers and help build up your email list. You’ll also see an uptick in sales when you purchase an ad buy. Build a Page, Buy Ads and Publish Cool Content. To gain access to my Closed Facebook Group, click here.
If you want to focus on other social media outlets because you just can’t stomach another day on Facebook, then look at this:
- Try YouTube. 75% of Americans admit to using YouTube. The average video is 4 minutes 24 seconds.
- Instagram. Only a third of Americans are on Instagram, but it’s a fast moving platform owned by Facebook. Ads will pay dividends.
- Twitter. Great way to network with readers, writers and industry professionals.
- Pinterest. It’s always competing with Facebook, YouTube, and Google as the best search engine in the United States. The fact that it’s in the running should tell you something.
3-Marketing for writers tips #3 – Learn Ads
This is one place on the Internet where you know people go to buy things. They’re primed for it. It’s why they go there. If you can master the art of Amazon Ads, you can get your book in the right place for a buyer to see it.
BookBub exists under the same idea. 15 million readers primed to read the genres and authors they love.
Facebook is also well worth your time. With the amount of data Facebook has on its users, it’s a gold mine for authors looking for new readers. I mean the users told Facebook what they like. It’s algorithms will find those people for you.
There are a plethora of videos on YouTube to help you learn ads. Take the time to learn it, master it and sell your books. To get started, create your Author Account and learn everything you can about keywords.
- When you do an ad buy, you’re really bidding on a keyword or phrase
- If a buyer sees your ad, you don’t pay. But if they click, then you pay
- Ad copy is essential because that is what entices someone to click. It is what makes a potential buyer into a reader.
- Ads shouldn’t be too text heavy and should capture the potential buyer’s interest quickly
Marketing for writers tip #4 – Build your email list
Email marketing is the best marketing tactic on the internet. A social media post might be seen by upwards of 8% of your followers, even with an ad buy (due to Facebook’s new algorithm). Your email will be delivered to at least 75% of the people who signed up for your list (spam and bad emails are why the rest aren’t delivered). People who sign up for your email have told you twice they want to receive your information. Good open rates for an email are in the 20% range and that data tells you that at least 70% more people will actually see the information in your email than on your social media.
- I started out with Mailchimp because it’s pretty idiot proof. If I can learn, you can! Your first 2000 people on the list are free. Mine is here.
- Send out news on a consistent basis, and at least twice a month. Monthly is not often enough for people to remember you.
- Offer freebies for signing up. I offer the Authorpreneur Playbook – a marketing guide and toolkit. You can offer character interviews, maps of your setting, additional chapters.
- Automate your first five emails as an onboarding and to keep the workload efficient and as off you as possible.
- Link to your email news everywhere: on your email signature block; all over your website; pin to the top of your social media.
The bottom line is that there is no foolproof way to market your books. What you want to do is create buzz about you and your product. Start small. Get that website up, even if it’s static. Build your Facebook presence if for no other reason than to pay for ads to build your email list. Learn ads. That’s it. Once you get comfortable with these four things, then up your game with more social media, added web content and automated email marketing. If you have any questions or just don’t know what to do, feel free to reach out to me at any time.