One of the most popular things I blog about is marketing. Of course, it’s quite a big subject and so each post focuses on various aspects of it, but in this post I want to give you an overview on the most important principles I’ve learned. But do check out my other articles for specifics, and if your question is not answered in any of them then leave me a comment.
1. Decide on your ideal audience.
We all know the saying that if you try to please everyone you’ll end up pleasing no one. This is also true with marketing- if you try to appeal to everyone then you’re appealing to no one. You need to know your target audience. This may seem obvious at first. You might be thinking, well I write women’s fiction, therefore I need to market my book to women. Yes, but there are many different types of women! Women who read to escape and women who read to learn. Women who want to be comforted by the familiar and women who want to travel to another world. So just ‘women’ isn’t specific enough. You need to work out the type of woman. Something that can help you with this is looking at your protagonist. If she’s a busy working mother then your book will probably appeal to busy working mothers. If she’s a young professional looking for love, guess what? That’s also your main target audience.
Of course, there are exceptions to any rule. Take my book for example. Victoria’s Victorian Victory is a YA story about a fourteen year old girl in Victorian England. But I realized quite early on in the marketing process that teenage girls were not my main target audience. Teenage girls today like dystopian thrillers and vampires. My target audience is the classic-book-and-period-drama-loving woman. The ones that still adore and reread their Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and Little House on the Prairie. Women like me!
So, who will your book appeal to?
2. Go where your readers are.
Once you have a target audience in mind, go where you can reach them. This enables you to focus your social media efforts on just a few platforms and do them really well. So, professional women are often on Facebook and LinkedIn. Young people use Snapchat. Full time mums love Pinterest. And classic book lovers like Instagram. You can use all these platforms of course, but concentrate on the ones where your ideal readers are and learn to utilise them really well.
Go here for tips on using my favourite platform- Instagram.
3. Value your work.
Too often you see writers giving their books away for free, usually via an automated direct message. This worked once, but I believe too many writers are doing it now for it to make your book stand out like it used to. You can see why writers do it. Usually it’s the first in a series and they give that one away to try and hook you into buying the rest of it. The problem is, giving your book away for free shows that the writer doesn’t really value it. And if the writer doesn’t value it then the reader certainly won’t. (I’m not talking about a flash sale here where your eBook is free for one or two days over a holiday or other special occasion. This does have some marketing value if you’re looking to up your reviews. Just don’t do it regularly.)
Go here for a more in depth discussion of giving your book away for free on Twitter.
4. Provide content your reader will feel benefitted by.
Everyone likes to feel they are getting something from their time. And people are giving you their time by looking at your content, reading your blog and signing up for your newsletter, let alone reading your book. So never forget that! Make sure they come away feeling that they’ve spent that time well, either because they’ve really enjoyed themselves or because they’ve learnt something.
For example, long blog posts about how you’ve spent your week may not engage that many people, unless you can make it really funny or relatable. Because telling us that you read three books and went to Starbucks isn’t all that scintillating. Try reviewing the books instead. Then your reader will feel they got some useful information from their investment of time. Or, instead of always talking about your own writing, try talking about something that interests them. I mean, you’re reading this post, aren’t you? Would you still be reading it if it was entitled ‘Me, Selling My Book’? Probably not. But I’m still talking about how I’m selling my book. It’s just that I’m telling you about it from the direction of how my experience can help you. Hopefully, by the end you will feel you received valuable information in return for your time!
In a similar vein, don’t make every social media post, or even every other one, about trying to push your writing on people. Yes, you do need to post about your own work fairly regularly, otherwise your new followers won’t know what your book is and how to buy it. Don’t be scared of that. But we are writers, not used car salesmen. We don’t flog. Believe me, people will take you a lot more seriously if you don’t. The whiff of desperation doesn’t help anyone.
Go here for my post about creating good marketing content.
5. Last one. And it’s a simple one. Yes, you do need a newsletter.
Well, that’s my five general principles of marketing. Do you have any?