Every author has asked the question how can I market my books and every author will give you a hundred different answers. The problem is no one has the same success doing the same thing as the author sitting next to them. Every author is different and every book poses a unique challenge.
The most important part about marketing your book is to know your book and know your audience.
Understand your book - You have written an Adult Fantasy novel, or so you thought. Once readers start to delve into your book and review it, they made suddenly label your book Young Adult, or Epic Fantasy, or Fairytale, or Urban Fantasy. Not everyone will have the same opinion about your genre. The best thing to do it do research different subgenres until you find the right match, and then market it with the correct keywords, tags, and genre specific language. If you are marketing your book to the wrong readers, you will have limited success.
Once you have a clear path for your book, the next step may sound easy, but it’s probably the hardest thing an author can do. Talk about your book.
Talk to your audience - The most effective way to sell books is to talk about them. I don’t mean post book blurbs or interesting tweets. I’m talking about a discussion. There are different ways to achieve this. Some authors start reading groups for their books so that people can discuss different topics or the author can highlight some of the interesting aspect of their books. I personally haven’t tried this yet, but I know others who enjoy this method.
Personally, I enjoy doing Author Takeovers. The benefit of an author takeover is the ability to talk about your book during a short period of time and get readers excited by playing games, posting excerpts or teasers, and giving something way. I like the ability to speak directly with the readers and answer questions or get their feedback on excerpts. I haven’t done a takeover yet that hasn’t increased my sales and helped me gain new readers.
Some authors bash takeovers because they haven’t had success. The key is to find events that have similar genres as your book and create an exciting takeover. If you post your Amazon link and tell people to ask you questions about your book, you will fail. I have seen it happen. Engage the audience with games and giveaways. Post interesting teaser photos. Post interesting photos that match your genre. Tell the audience to post photos and tell you why they read your genre. Find a way to be engaging.
The next step is make friends with other authors.
Make friends with other authors - This may seem like an odd notion since we are all on social media, but this is an important aspect that is often overlooked. You may feel intimidated as the new kid sitting down at the lunchroom table with the other kids, but it’s something that you have to do. I’ve met wonderful authors who are more than willing to help each other in different ways. They help spread the word by reposting your articles. They cheer when you have a success. They are supportive when you’ve had a misstep. They are a valuable resource. Some of them have been where you are and offer great advice. Others are in the same boat as you, but are willing to try new things. It can be hard to make friends online, but just being nice to people goes a long way.
Don’t see other authors as your competition; see them as a way to learn about something new whether it’s a different technology, or an interesting way of interacting with readers. Authors are usually happy to talk about their experiences, good and bad. They can be a wonderful support group.
After you have mastered your social skills, the next step is to tackle your media skills.
A moving picture is worth a thousand words - I have heard of authors who only sell books through books signings. I give them a lot of credit. Personally, I would love to be able to attend every book signing in the tri-state area, but I have to work fulltime and raise a family. Marketing online is the only means I currently have to sell books and I know I’m not the only one. If you want to sell online, you need to master technology.
I wrote a post a while back called, “Author or Social Media Wizard” which details all the different media outlets I’ve had to learn along the way. Yes, you can post your book on Amazon, Smashwords, and Kobo. Yes, you can figure out how to use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, but it’s more important to push past these social media apps. Learning how to use Skype, or video conference apps, can open up a whole world. Learning how to record a video and post it on your own YouTube Channel can set you apart from other authors. Once you learn how to use video and audio, you can participate in online discussion panels, agree to live interviews, and record readings of your books.
I met an author named Angela B. Chrysler who changed my concept of “media.” She is the creator of the Brains to Books Cyber Convention. She is a techno wiz who loves posting "how to" video tutorials about the convention, and pre-recorded readings of her books. She is engaging, funny, and loves gardening. I know this because I have seen her videos. Video add a new layer to social media. It allows a reader to get to know the author behind the curtain. Adapting to new technology can help you push your marketing to the next level.
Now that you have technology under your belt, you need to expand your concept of book conventions.
Bigger on the inside technology - Have you ever been to a book convention or seen one on TV? There are vendors and discussion rooms, as well as meet and greet areas. You walk around this enormous area checking out new books, hoping to get someone’s signature. A few months ago, I would have said that an online convention was impossible. How could a convention take place online? The Brains to Books Cyber Con changed my mind. The event happened on Goodreads over three-days. Every author had a booth, or a discussion thread, where they could do whatever they wanted. I posted my book burbs, my online interview, my audio book chapter, and even a scavenger hunt. I was limited only by my imagination. The best part of the whole convention was the fact that I put myself out there and did the unthinkable. I hosted my own event during the convention.
I created a Fantasy event where similar genres could come to together and talk about their books. It was a huge success, thankfully. It proved that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I was grateful to have Angela B. Chrysler in my corner during the event agreeing with my crazy idea. I was also grateful to have a great group of authors helping me out. I tried something new and learned from my experience. It gave me the confidence to try things I would have never done before. It was fun, empowering, and I sold books! My point is don’t limit yourself to what everyone is doing. Come up with your own concept.
So now we have pushed the boundaries of technology and tested our courage. The last step to marketing books is to keep trying.
Wash, rinse, repeat - Most indie authors don’t sell books every day. There are good days and bad days, but you still have to try. There will be days when a bad review gets you down or someone said something nasty to you on Twitter or Facebook. You want to nuke your social media and crawl into a hole. As long as you regroup the next day and remember that you don’t care about the trolls or the people who read your book and ignored the warnings, you will survive. Every day you have to be creative and innovative. Look for new sites to post an interview. Look for bloggers offering to spotlight your book. Come up with interesting tweets or posts about your books. Create new photo teasers to draw in readers. Every day is a new day to try something different. Change up your hashtags to see what works. Write a blog post about something interesting to drive traffic to your website. Join an event to talk about your book. Work with another author on exciting ways to promote your books. Do something new until you find what works.
The best advice I have is to not give up. Cut your losses when necessary, but be smart enough to come at the problem from another perspective. You are the author. If you aren’t talking about your book and promoting it, who will?