Did you know that book publicity isn’t actually about book sales? Here’s why!
Although indie authors tend to live and die by how many books they sell, book sales shouldn’t be your only focus. Yes, book sales ultimately matter. But they’re the result of a lot of different things, and they shouldn’t be the end all, be all measurement of your success as an author.
So what is book marketing and publicity actually about? Developing and fostering relationships. It happens by taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. It happens by knocking on lots of doors and then finding new doors to knock on in order to gain exposure and sell more books.
Ultimately with a solid book promotion plan, one thing builds on another and on another to create momentum. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Radio and TV help sell books, right? So how many will I sell?
Is there really a correlation between media and big book sales?
Authors love to think so. But in reality, you never know what kind of book sales your media appearances will generate. I’ve known authors to go on National shows and sell less than 100 books as a result. Most authors assume that media = sales, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes media = opportunity and in every case, media is a great way to build your resume. If this all sounds boring, stick with me, because we’ll get to how to sell more books in a minute.
Book sales depend on a great many things, including:
• A great book cover
• A great book
• Your message (what you say during the interview, blogger interview or TV appearance)
• How easily can readers get your book (spoiler alert: it doesn’t have to be in bookstores!)
So the takeaway here is that selling books is about more than media, although media can be a good strategy. Solid book marketing and publicity may lead to media, which in turn can create more opportunities and lend you credibility for future efforts.
How can I actually get more book sales?
For a book to sell well, it needs to be seen multiple times by your audience. So, one interview on NPR may get your sales rank on Amazon kicking up, but it won’t stay there. However, that interview can present some other, great opportunities if you’re willing to dig deeper.
I never discourage an author from seeking media, but make sure you’re looking at media for the right reasons – and sales shouldn’t be one of them. So what should it be: opportunity. Maybe the opportunity to be a return guest, to do more with the show or publication, or maybe it’s just the opportunity a media interview presents to go after larger media.
If you’ve done a lot of regional media, it’s likely that you’re ready to go into the national markets. Media loves media so the more media you do, the more you’ll get. Remember: building blocks.
Or, let’s leave media for a minute and go to something else like speaking. What if you have big dreams of being on stage, giving a well-paid keynote speech or just getting on the speaking circuit. If you have no experience in speaking, maybe starting in your hometown is a solid plan, to get your feet wet, hone your skills, and in the process, build your mailing list.
And sometimes seeking opportunities to build on means creating your own opportunities.
And about it means saying yes more often than you say no.
While it’s fine to turn down things that aren’t right for you, you should never turn down something just because you feel it’s “too small.” You never know where an opportunity like that could lead you. And it might just help you sell more books. Or even lead to something bigger!
What is the right exposure for my book?
The best campaigns are the right ones for your book. Maybe this sounds like a no-brainer. But I can’t tell you how many times I talk to authors who take on marketing strategies “because they think it’s the right thing to do,” instead of considering what is right for their book and audience. And if you’re not doing the right things, you won’t sell more books. You might see a small bump in sales, but it won’t move the needle far.
A good example of this is fiction, and in particular, genre fiction. I love marketing genre fiction, but I will rarely ever promise an author big, national media for this. I find that most authors get that. Unless you’re already a big household name, national media is probably a wasted effort for you. Why not spend your time elsewhere?
Building reader connections is a powerful strategy. So spend your time on marketing efforts that will actually reach your reader: reviews on Amazon, blogger reviews, eBook promos, Goodreads giveaways, etc. You get the idea.
Now where’s the opportunity, you say? Well, as you build relationships with readers and bloggers, you are also building opportunity. You’re building a chance for a future feature, review or maybe a guest blog post.
Finding the right exposure is key. Then building on that exposure to create relationships will help you sell more books.
Every opportunity is a building block for future opportunities
Every single thing you do, every “win” you get should be viewed as an opportunity. And finding the opportunity in each of your marketing and publicity strategies will help you keep building towards better book sales.
We had an author once who hated the Internet. He was older and refused to do a website, social media, any of it. I finally talked him into the website and encouraged him to start blogging. His blogs were thoughtful, interesting, and insightful. He was clearly out to help his reader.
When Entrepreneur Magazine asked to interview him, he took it a step further with them and asked if they ever considered letting non-magazine staff blog on their site. As it turns out they did. He started blogging for them, which was a phenomenal opportunity that came out of one, simple interview. It’s also interesting to note that the interview in and of itself didn’t net a lot of book sales, but his ongoing exposure with them did, ultimately, sell more books.
The bottom line
When you view your book marketing and publicity as opportunity for exposure, it may change the way you employ each strategy.
Now, keep in mind that not every media interview or blogger review will turn into multiple features. But maybe there’s something else that came come out of it. As I said: media draws media and the same goes for bloggers.
If you do it right, every opportunity is a chance to build into something bigger. And every opportunity should be grabbed, appreciated, and responded to. You never know what additional doors will open as a result.
The other thing to keep in mind is that writing books is a business. Every chance you get to expand your reach, to grow your visibility, will aid in your growth and efforts to sell more books.
Your success will come as the cumulative result of all the marketing strategies you use. So spend your time wisely, choose strategies that will aid in your ultimate goal of exposure, and layer your strategies on top of one another. Then follow up. Really work every exposure you get. It will make a difference and help you sell more books!
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.