Marketing Isn’t an Afterthought

Unfortunately, most new self-published authors don’t consider marketing until after they have published their books. When sales are dismal, then they see firsthand the importance or marketing. Or they ask other authors on a community forum, “Why isn’t my book selling?” One of the answers will be marketing.

It sure would be nice if we could just throw our books out there and watch them sell like hot cakes. Everyone hopes for this.

But there’s a major problem with this approach: When the book doesn’t sell all by itself, the best marketing opportunities have already passed by. Now it’s too late. So most authors settle for better-late-than-never.

The problem is that after you publish, if you haven’t yet marketed, you’ve lost your chance to create buzz for your book and your lack of sales history will be a challenge to overcome. When you effectively market early sales and build a healthy sales history, this gives you much more exposure on Amazon – e.g. through Customers Also Bought lists and 100 bestseller lists (if you really succeed).

Marketing is something that should begin before the book is published – when the book is still being written:

  • Generate “buzz” for your upcoming book. You want people talking about your book in person and via social media before it’s released. You don’t have to spend money on advertising to achieve this.
  • Let people discover that you’re working on a book. “What have you been up to lately?” People tend not to like advertisements and salesmen, but they like to feel that they’ve discovered new things.
  • When you meet people, let them discover that you’re a writer. People like to buy books from authors they’ve personally interacted with.
  • Show your passion for your work. When others see your passion, it makes them more interested in your work.
  • Get feedback on your cover design. First, you get valuable suggestions and find what puts people off and turns people on. It also helps to create a little buzz.
  • You can also solicit feedback on your title and blurb. Do this in person and online.
  • Carefully let people know on occasion something that’s special about your project – e.g. if you spend an abnormal amount of time writing or doing research, or if you’ve had a few edits from a professional editor.
  • Don’t overdo it. If you talk about your book every time you interact with friends, family, and acquaintances, you’ll get tuned out. Let them inquire about how your project is coming along.
  • Publish a paperback with CreateSpace and use Amazon Advantage to enable preorders. Customers can then order your book before it’s even published.
  • Preorders give your book a headstart in sales rank and help to quickly develop Customers Also Bought associations. A tremendous jumpstart can give you mega-exposure on 100 bestseller lists.
  • Send out advance review copies. Goodreads can help with this. This gives you a chance to earn a few early reviews.
  • Realize that your cover is a valuable marketing tool. A striking image attracts attention, relevant imagery signifies the genre. A memorable cover with one main image makes your book easier to recognize and describe to others.
  • Perfect your blurb and Look Inside before you publish because these can have a profound influence on sales.
  • Perfect your editing, formatting, and storyline before you publish. If people love your book and the writing, they are far more likely to leave good reviews and recommend your book to others by word-of-mouth.
  • Start a blog before you publish your book. This may only help you create a small following, but that’s not the point. The point is when your About the Author section directs readers to your blog, you don’t want them to show up and find an empty blog with one post, two followers, and three likes. Have some content available and gathering started before you publish.
  • Don’t just blog about yourself unless you’re already a celebrity. Try to develop useful content that relates to your book and genre that will attract not only fans, but perhaps others from your intended audience, too.
  • Develop your author websites before you publish so that you can include the links in your books.
  • Get your social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) started before you publish. This can help you create buzz for your book and get early sales and reviews. Get your pages setup and have active content before you direct traffic there.
  • Setup fan, book, author, and/or imprint pages at Facebook.
  • However, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. If you have a blog, Twitter, Facebook, separate accounts for author, book, publisher, fan club, etc., you want to be able to manage everything and keep content up-to-date. Some pages may not need updating (like a simple page for the publisher), but some do – like your blog and Twitter.
  • Choose one author photo that you can use everywhere. This recognition helps you create your brand/image as an author.
  • Develop a logo before you publish so that you can use it on all of your books and websites.
  • Choose an imprint before you publish and develop a website (free, perhaps) to help lend it some credibility.
  • Setup your AuthorCentral Author Page at Amazon. Setup your Goodreads author account.
  • Use your own passion for your book to motivate yourself to market diligently. Believe in your book enough to want to share it with others, to want to market actively so that others will learn about it.

The longer a book sits on Amazon and doesn’t sell well, the greater the history of no sales counts against you. If you suddenly market some new sales, your sales rank still skyrockets quickly because of that lack of history. Market effectively out of the box to build a strong early sales rank. Get your book started off on the right foot.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

13 comments on “Marketing Isn’t an Afterthought

  1. That is a long list!

    A few of the bloggers I follow are about to launch their ebook to the world and they’re working through the marketing. Like you say, it’s not something to do as an afterthought and the more planning you put into this the better it will be come launch day.

    Food for thought as I head that way. Happy writing 🙂

    • I’ve felt that way many times myself. 🙂 Many daunting tasks turn out to be easier than they seem, and there are often others willing to provide free advice and suggestions to those who would only ask (or know where to look). 🙂

  2. These are GREAT tips. Thanks! It’s so true that nowadays you have to start early to build a following. The nice thing (and scary thing, too), though, is that marketing isn’t all just in someone else’s power. You can help out a lot (whether you self publish or publish through a traditional publisher).

  3. Wow I really like these tips and how specific they are! Too often I come across generic lists, so this was good food for thought. I’d add that helping out other authors (like what you’re doing here) generates a lot of goodwill too, whether you do it on blogs, on Amazon via reviews, or on GoodReads.

  4. Pingback: Marketing: Is It All Just a Popularity Contest? | chrismcmullen

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