Thousands of authors are actively promoting their books. A few do this successfully; many do not. A wide variety of marketing tools are available. A few work very well; some are ineffective; and others work well for some books or authors, but not well for others.
How do you know which marketing strategies will be effective for you?
(1) First identify your target audience.
This should be incredibly obvious, yet it’s extremely common to find authors promoting their books in ways that aren’t geared toward their target audience.
Your target audience is NOT anybody with a pair of eyes!
Sure, anybody with eyes can read your book, and you’d love to sell your book to everybody who can read. However, the reality is that the vast majority of people who will read and enjoy your book will be people who frequently read books from the same genre.
Don’t waste your time or money with marketing tools that are likely to yield a tiny percentage of new customers for your book. For example, if you promote a mystery novel in a way that reaches 1000 people, but only 5 of those 1000 people actually read mysteries, 99.5% of your promotion is being wasted.
Identify your specific target audience. A few people outside of your target audience may read your book, but the vast majority of your readers will come from your target audience, so focus on reaching people in your target audience.
People in your target audience are most likely to enjoy the book, give you word-of-mouth sales, and review your book. When you succeed in marketing your book to people outside of your target audience, they are less likely to appreciate and understand the book, spread the word to others, and review your book (and if they do, the audience mismatch might lead to a negative review).
That’s one problem with the KDP Select free promo books: Many people read books outside of their normal genre just because they’re free (and often don’t even read the description, Look Inside, or any reviews to try to learn what the book is about beforehand). When the book doesn’t live up to their (often unrealistic) expectations, this tends to show up in product reviews.
If your book is a romance intended for adults, then your audience is adult romance. Your target audience does not include erotica (otherwise, your audience would be erotic romance, not adult romance), nor does it include teen romance. You might get a few readers from these similar genres, but most readers will be looking specifically for adult romance.
(2) Gear your marketing efforts toward your specific target audience.
Your promotional strategies will be much more effective when your exposure primarily reaches members of your specific target audience. If you have a fantasy novel and leave flyers for your book on the windshields of cars outside of a science fiction convention, you’re wasting your time with a target audience mismatch. Even worse, if you pass flyers out at a mall, only a tiny fraction of the people there will be fantasy readers. (Then there is the issue of solicitation being prohibited at many places.)
Where can you find your target audience? Strive to understand your target audience. Where are they likely to hang out (both online and in person)? What common interests will they have?
You have to be realistic with this question, too. For example, many authors will fall into traps like, “Science fiction readers might play chess.” True, they might. What you really want to know is how many chess players avidly read science fiction? If it’s a small percentage, then it’s not worth your effort to target chess players.
For a science fiction book, you want to find places where you can interact with people both in person and online who are very likely to be science fiction readers. Going to a Star Trek party, attending a science fiction convention, joining a science fiction club, meeting people online at a discussion forum for science fiction, and writing articles about science fiction (and getting them published on blogs or websites with significant science fiction traffic) are examples of how to reach this specific audience.
With enough thought and determination, you can find your target audience. For a self-help book, for example, get involved in community service that relates to the subject. If you’re having trouble thinking of ideas of where to find your target audience, tell people about your book and ask for some suggestions.
Find Part 2 of this article here: https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/effective-book-marketing-part-2/.
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
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Thanks as always, Chris, for taking the time to help your fellow indie authors with all this helpful advice. I look forward to part 2!
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