I often think, when advising authors on book publicity, that I know what they need and want to help them succeed at promoting their books. But it has occurred to me that perhaps authors don’t know as much as I think they do. They may not even fully understand what I tell them because they have no perspective to work from. How can they appreciate anything when they don’t really know much about the world of publishing, the news media, or books?
So let’s start from the beginning and see if I can help launch an introduction into book publicity for the uninitiated but eager writer.
Rule 1: A book will not sell well without some combination of publicity, marketing and advertising.
Further, to properly market and promote a book it will take a collaborative effort between the author, an outsourced publicists, and if available, the book publisher. PR is an investment of time, money, and mental mindshare. It’s work – but the effort can have a short- and long-term pay off.
Rule 2: Know why you are publishing a book.
To serve those needs, you will have to actively promote. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish as a result of executing a publicity campaign. Let your actions and marketing plans derive from your foundation of knowing why.
Rule 3: You can never start too soon to brand yourself and your book.
Dig your well before you are thirsty. If your book is coming out in six to nine months, use that advance time to set up your website, build your social media, blog or start podcasting, develop a marketing plan, seek out testimonials, identify sales prospects, craft your press kit materials, and schedule speaking engagements.
Rule 4: Getting pre-orders (advance sales before your official publication date) can help you build towards hitting a best-seller list.
You can market your book months before it’s actually available.
Rule 5: Check your ego.
Sure it’s gotten you this far and we all have pride, but if you let your ego lead you, that will only get yourself in trouble. You can’t arrogantly expect things to happen for you or fall your way. It takes hard work, street savvy, luck, connections, skill, knowledge, a great book, and an understanding of consumers and the media to succeed.
Rule 6: Temper your expectations.
Most books – that means at least half – never, ever sell 10,000 or more copies. Many authors are lucky to sell 5,000 copies in their first 6-12 months. Shoot for the stars, but don’t be delusional.
Rule 7: Social media is increasingly important for one’s success, but don’t believe the hype.
You do not have to obsessively live on social media to raise your profile or sell books, but you do need a game plan. Which platforms will you be on? You can’t be on all of them. Will it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or LinkedIn? Will you post regularly and consistently? Will you also spend time seeking to grow your number of followers and connections?
Rule 8: Network, now, tomorrow, always.
Connections die, move away, switch industries, lose touch, or just prove to be useless. Keep making new connections. You can never have enough. To network, you need to do so via email, phone, in-person, and on social media. Attend events or hold them. Ask people for referrals and introductions to others. Work your contacts and give them value. Human currency is available to you – cash in.
Rule 9: You need to be organized, prioritized, and informed to excel in life and certainly at book publicity.
Keep good notes on what people tell you and follow-up accordingly. If you are scatter-brained just give up now!
Rule 10: Keep learning about marketing, publicity, and advertising.
Observe successful models. Ask people questions to learn more. Experiment too. Attend seminars workshops and conferences on PR, writing, and marketing.
I hope these 10 rules jumpstart the building of your foundation as an empowered writer-turned-marketer. You control your fate and should feel you can overcome fears or obstacles to market the heck out of your book and establish your author brand. Good Luck!
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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