(5) Strive to generate word-of-mouth sales.
Word-of-mouth sales are among the best sales that your book can get, yet are also the most challenging to achieve. There are a few things that you can do to help garnish these valuable sales.
Try to create buzz for your upcoming book. Don’t simply publish the book and wait to see how little it gets noticed. Instead, strive to get people talking about your book prior to its release:
- Solicit feedback on your cover, title, and blurb. Post these on your blog and Facebook, requesting comments. Show these in person. Have these with you and show them to people (especially, those in your target audience). You get valuable feedback and might help to create a little buzz at the same time.
- Don’t keep your book writing a secret. People ask, “What have you been up to lately?” Let them know how your book is coming along. This is more effective when they inquire about your book, and less effective when you volunteer it. You’ll get tuned out if you’re always talking about your book.
- Join a critique group, see if a book club is interested in your draft (if you’re already a member, this is far more likely), start a focus group, and find people who can read your book (in whole or in part) and offer feedback. The more people who know about your book, the greater the chances that some people will like it and talk about its upcoming release. You want people to be saying, “Did you know that So-n-so wrote a romance novel and it’s coming out this June?” You can’t tell people what to say, but you can create the opportunities.
- Send out advance review copies. Search for bloggers who have a following among your target audience who occasionally review books and see if they would be interested in reading a free copy of your book for possible review on their blog (if you’ve already been a long-time, active follower, that may help). You can also search for book review websites. Keep in mind that the most popular bloggers and sites will already have numerous requests.
- Arrange for book readings and signings. Develop a one-sentence strapline that will help generate interest in your book. When you interact with people (in general) or do a book reading, this is the thought that you want to leave them with.
- Seek local press coverage from the media. Prepare a professional press release package. Local newspapers may have column inches to fill and like to feature local authors. Similarly, local radio shows may have minutes to fill; even try local television stations. Start local, then look for media that specifically relates to your target audience; when they’re trying to catch the same target audience, featuring you may be a good fit. Even if they can’t cover you on the air, they may be willing to post a brief note about you on their major website.
Realize that your book is a marketing tool in itself:
- An eye-catching cover helps to attract interest in your book.
- A cover, title, and blurb that send a unified message about the genre and content help to catch members from your target audience.
- A cover that features one image and a title with two to three words are easy to remember and help with your branding efforts. This also makes your book easier to describe, which helps with buzz and word-of-mouth sales.
- An effective, well-written blurb and captivating, well-written and well-formatted Look Inside help to sell your book. This is your only salesperson at the point-of-sale online.
- The quality of the book significantly impacts your prospects for word-of-mouth sales. Editing or formatting mistakes detract from this. Memorable characters and great stories that evoke strong emotions for fiction, and helpful and clear explanations for nonfiction, improve your chances. These things similarly affect customer reviews.
(6) Be diligent, consistent, and persistent in your marketing efforts.
It can take a year of diligent marketing before your marketing efforts are fully realized. Trying for a short period and giving up prematurely is a common mistake. We like to see instant satisfaction, but marketing just doesn’t work that way. There aren’t any shortcuts. You can’t just throw money at it (like paying for advertisements) to reap instant rewards.
Be patient. Branding and discovery take time. People won’t rush out to buy your book the second they hear about it. It may take months until readers from your target audience have come across you and your book enough times for branding to take effect. Then it can take additional weeks before they’re shopping for their next book. It may take months to read your book. So it can easily be a year before they recommend it to others.
If you stop marketing prematurely, your branding effort will be incomplete.
Many marketing strategies actually have indirect benefits. So even if they don’t reap immediate sales, all of your marketing strategies that specifically reach your target audience may have long-term benefits. Don’t give up.
(7) Choose strategies based on a cost-benefit analysis.
Most authors decide which marketing strategies to adopt based on what’s easiest for them to do, what they feel most comfortable doing, what they perceive is popular among other authors, what they’ve heard other authors recommend, and especially what does or doesn’t seem to be providing immediate results.
What you really want to know is which marketing strategies will be most effective for your unique book.
Decide which strategies to employ based on a cost-benefit analysis.
Even if the marketing tool is free, it still costs you time. Therefore, every marketing strategy that you apply has cost, whether in money, time, or both.
Ideally, you want to reap the most rewards with the least cost. For each marketing strategy that you consider, make a list of the probable costs and benefits (and remember, time is money, so the time that you must invest is a cost, too).
Click here to view an article on cost-benefit analysis: https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/cost-benefit-analysis-for-marketing-books/.
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers