You set out to blog a book, and, in the process, you learned how to promote your blog. Now, your book is almost ready for release, and you need to learn how to sell copies. Today Emmanuel Nataf (@EmmanuelNataf), co-founder of Reedsy, provides you with some important dos and don’ts that will help you learn the essentials of book marketing.
Promoting and running a blog isn’t easy. And if you’re a blogger thinking about going from blog to book, you’ll further discover that marketing a book is an entirely different ball game.
But it’s certainly not impossible to promote your blog and book. Luckily, a steady stream of indie authors has pounded the promotional pavement for years, and you can learn a lot by following in their footsteps.
Not sure who to ask or follow to get this essential book-marketing information? No worries.
Whether you’re just starting on the blog-to-book journey or you’re ready to release your blogged book, you can get a leg up on book marketing by reading through the following five crucial dos and don’ts for getting your blogged book into readers’ hands.
1. DO talk to other authors about their own publishing journey.
While self-publishing might feel like a solitary pursuit, the online writing community is large and thriving. So, don’t think that you have to figure this whole “marketing-a-book” thing out on your own.
While most indie writers don’t moonlight as professional marketers, any self-published author who’s hoping to actually sell copies will need to learn a thing or two about marketing. And they’re likely happy to share their lessons and experiences with you.
Facebook and friendly writing forums are an excellent place to start. Some writing podcasts also feature authors who share tips and secrets about their publishing journeys. (For instance, Reedsy’s own self-publishing podcast, Bestseller, follows former Nike executive Shaz Kahng on her journey from sportswear CEO to the author of her debut novel, The Closer.)
Just as it’s essential to form relationships with bloggers in your niche, it’s similarly important to reach out to fellow authors when you start thinking about blog-to-book deals. You never know what knowledge you can glean by listening to their advice.
2. DON’T market to everyone.
“This book is for everyone.”
“This book transcends the confinements of genre.”
“All teenagers will relate to this book.”
None of these statements will help you market your book. Instead of marketing a book to everyone in general, you are far more likely to find readers (and success) by tailoring your marketing to small groups of people already interested in the topic of your book. Luckily, you’re probably already accustomed to doing on your blog!
The more niche and specific you can get when identifying your book’s target market, the more likely you are to get it into the hands of people who will read it and tell others about it, too. So how do you go about actually defining what that market is?
One way is by creating a “proto-persona,” or an in-depth description of your ideal reader. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when identifying your book’s proto-persona:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- Did they go to school — if so, what did they study?
- What is their occupation?
- What are their hobbies?
- What other books do they own?
- Who are their favorite authors?
The answers to these questions will be highly impacted by the genre and type of book you’re writing. Once you have nailed down your proto-persona, keep that person in mind every time you make a marketing decision.
3. DO spend time perfecting your book description.
All right, someone’s found your Amazon book listing. This is a massive accomplishment in itself! But now it’s time to seal the deal: you need the information provided on your page to convince this person to buy (or download) your blogged book.
Your book cover, reviews, and the “look inside” feature are massively important factors in achieving this — and so is the book description. Here’s what to keep in mind when writing yours:
The headline needs to hook readers.
Make sure to include keywords that people looking to buy a book will immediately recognize. These keywords might relate to major themes, series name, awards you’ve won, and any other relevant details that connect the book to your established blog.
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Tell readers what your book is about.
A common trap authors fall into is explaining every little detail about their book in the description. Yes, you may have spent months working on a single chapter of your book, and the thought of not including in your blurb may feel frustrating. But unless it’s a detail that’s critical to prospective readers’ understanding, leave it out.
Here are the three golden items to include:
- The problem or challenge that your book addresses;
- How it answers this problem; and
- The major takeaway that readers will get from your book.
4. DON’T underestimate the power of a mailing list.
If you run a successful blog, you’re likely already ahead of the game with your mailing list. Therefore, I won’t talk about the importance of setting one up to hang onto readers. Instead, all I’ll say is that you should use your mailing list to your advantage when trying to sell your book.
Tap into the relationship that you’ve established with your subscribers by letting them know about your book launch in advance. To capture more leads, start thinking about what lead magnets (or incentives you offer people for subscribing to your newsletter) you can use. This might be a sneak-peek at your next book, or perhaps even a discount (or a freebie!).
Lead magnets are one of the most effective ways of attracting and holding onto leads, so if you’re feeling discouraged by low subscriber numbers, definitely consider throwing in a tangible bonus like this.
5. DO take it one step at a time.
Create a Facebook page, be active on Twitter, use Goodreads, understand the Amazon ecosystem, start a YouTube channel, reach out to local media outlets… there are countless marketing tools and ideas out there. And if you’re not jumping on all of them, you can start to feel like you’re not doing everything you can for your book.
But the truth is, you simply cannot do all of this all at once. For one thing, book marketing has a learning curve and, as with anything, mastering new skills requires commitment and dedication. So, if you’re going to learn about Facebook advertising, just do that, and stick with it until you have a solid grasp on it.
Secondly, not all of your marketing initiatives will yield the same results. And you need to know which efforts are more effective than others so that you can spend more time on those things and leave behind the strategies that aren’t working. However, the only way to get a grasp of what is and isn’t working is by measuring your efforts one at a time.
Unfortunately, authors are not able to track where all their Amazon buyers are coming from. Perhaps the bulk of your traffic derives from Goodreads. If you’re doing a little bit of promotion on 20 different avenues, there’s no way for you to deduce this vital information.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t always be looking for new ways to promote your book. But when you’re getting started, try just one or two things at a time so you can accurately discern where the biggest payoffs are coming from.
Indeed, this is a good philosophy to keep in mind if you’re writing a book, self-publishing a blogged book, or publishing in any capacity. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, do things in manageable portions, and you—and your book—will be absolutely fine.
What book marketing tips can you share? Tell me in a comment below.
About the Author
Emmanuel Nataf is the founder and CEO of Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. Emmanuel dedicates most of his time to building Reedsy’s product and is interested in how technology can transform cultural industries.
Photo courtesy of route55 / 123RF Stock Photo