If you’re ready to take your brand and your platform to the next level, then a book marketing company may be just what you need. And primarily, what I do is help authors with their exposure.
Because exposure is ultimately what will drive sales. Consumers often need to see something as many as seven times before deciding to purchase. And although I cannot offer authors specific sales guarantees (no one can!), what I can do is offer a great well-rounded campaign that helps you gain exposure. And with that comes the tools and support you’ll need to sell more books. But success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and even when you hire a book marketing company, you need to be involved in the process working toward your goals alongside the professionals.
So if hiring a book marketing company is the path you want to take, you need to be prepared to make the most of the investment.
This shouldn’t be too shocking.
You buy a house or a car and you get insurance. When planning a vacation, you make sure you’re not sitting in the hotel all day.
So why would you hire a book marketing company and just sit back and hope they can single-handedly make all your dreams come true?
You must be prepared to participate in your own success. And any book marketing company worth their salt will tell you this. They should also be very straightforward with you about what they can and can’t guarantee, and what their goals are for every strategy they offer.
It’s in your best interest not to assume a single thing and ask as many questions as possible about their process, their strategies, and what they need from you to make the most of your investment.
Remember, your book marketing company cannot work in a vacuum, and so I’m including below what I wish every author knew — and that’s what you can do to help things along!
Keep in mind that collaboration is a good thing. With 4,500+ books published every day, you really shouldn’t stress about duplicating efforts. This is in part due to consumers needing as many as seven exposures before deciding to make a purchase.
Additionally, it’s not always practical to give up one entire segment of your marketing completely.
For example, if you end up hiring a book marketing company to help you with social media for your next book release, you don’t want to step away if you can help it.
Few authors can afford to hire a book marketing company to really do everything. We’re talking thousands of dollars a month. And especially with self-published authors, that’s just not a reality. So these tips are for the rest of us — the other 99%.
A Rock Solid Website
Why do you need a website? It’s the first place readers will go to learn more about you. It offers a way to connect, it supports your brand, and it’s a place where you can highlight your successes and milestones. Almost more importantly, it shows that you take yourself and your work seriously and that you’re in it for the long haul. It should link to all of your social media, offer a way to contact you, and link to your book sales pages. And, the other thing your website should do is offer a newsletter sign up. This way you can start collecting email addresses from your readers so that you can reach out to them when you have an important update to share.
Really Connect With Your Fans
Once you have a group of fans who really loves your work, you want to make sure they understand how much you value them. Because they are the people who will help you sell more books. Especially if you can really build relationships with them.
After all, success isn’t a one-way street. You can’t just publish a book and then sit back and watch. It’s not as simple as that. Your readers deserve your respect. They are the ones who will be giving up their hard-earned cash to purchase your book — and ultimately write reviews. So make yourself available to fans. And then really connect with them.
You aren’t alone if you hate social media. But the time when it was a book marketing “extra” has long passed. It’s important to be on at least one or two social media channels. Notice, I didn’t say every single social media channel.
Figure out where your buyers hang out, and then sign up for that site. Not sure which sites your buyers hang out on? It has a lot to do with who your target market is, their gender, age, interests, etc. Check out what other (successful) indie authors in your genre are doing, what sites they are on, and then you can do the same.
Still not sure? We put together a social media personality quiz that you’ll probably find quite helpful.
I often tell authors: “You don’t have to be everywhere, just everywhere that matters.”
You’re better off focusing on one good one than forcing yourself to just flounder on all of them.
Keep Those Reviews Coming
I’ll be honest, it’s very distressing when authors reach out to me and their book has no reviews.
Even if it only came out a month ago, someone should have read it and reviewed it in that amount of time. Even if it’s people you know. It’s a great place to start, so get the word out. Ask friends and colleagues to forward a well-worded email to their friends and colleagues — at minimum.
Every review you get triggers Amazon’s algorithm, so it's absolutely worth your while to get more reviews coming in.
No book should have zero reviews if the author actually planned on writing it for people to read.
Pitch Your Network
If you’ve written non-fiction, I hope you have some professional connection to your topic, and an impressive one. Because that’s the reason for writing the book, to share your unique perspective on your area of expertise.
Really smart, successful people write books on nearly every topic you can imagine — so you have some serious competition.
What makes you different? Your network. Get reviews and blurbs from other people on a professional level, ask them to share your book. Leverage anything you have. Even if you only get a small percentage of responses, that’s ok — it’s that many more circles where your book will be shared.
Your work is not over once a review is posted. Use the comment option on Amazon to thank individuals for taking the time to write a review. Doing so can help turn them into a long-term fan that will come back and buy your next book — because you made it personal.
And it shouldn’t be limited to Amazon book reviews. Every time someone gives you an opportunity, you should thank them for it. And, definitely, take advantage of it if you can. If for some reason you can’t commit to the opportunity, thank them graciously.
Run Promotions and Giveaways
Giveaways are fun, they’re easy, and they inspire action. You can also do them whenever you want and, as an indie author, on your own terms.
While you don’t have to give away all your books all the time, you should offer giveaways at least a few times a year. If you have multiple titles, you can rotate which ones you are giving away.
And, while free is incredibly powerful, don’t underestimate the power of a good deal. Run eBook promotions frequently.
Utilize Your Newsletter Regularly
Regular doesn’t necessarily mean often. Maybe once a month is all you can do. Or even once a quarter. And you really must have a way for your readers to sign up on your website.
The point is you’re building your mailing list, and a mailing list is like gold — these are people who are asking you for updates. They love your books and they are most likely to be return buyers.
Just remember to highlight something special or exciting in each newsletter. Announce an upcoming release, event, free download, cover reveal, giveaway winners, etc. Everyone’s inboxes are full of lots of email. So don’t waste their time. Make your newsletter good and make them want to open it!
Be Willing to Do Events
Events are a great way to get in front of new faces and to really build a connection with your readers. And while traditional author events are getting more competitive (especially as bookstores are becoming fewer and fewer), there are still plenty of great options for you to host events. And non-traditional venues can be a lot of fun!
Not sure where to start? Are you a regular anywhere? Maybe a local coffee shop, brewery, or craft store? Maybe you have a friend that owns a small business. Consider where you might already have an “in” and start there. And if someone says “no,” especially if you’ve got a connection to them, ask for their recommendations or help brainstorming. You never know what great ideas might come out of it.
Have you done one or more events already? Once you have even one successful event under your belt you can use that to expand your opportunities and sell more books on a local level. And, don’t forget to market each event aggressively. And by that I mean, share it on Facebook, on Nextdoor, let your local media know about it. Your venue will appreciate all the work you’re doing to help get people in their doors.
Get Involved Locally
Communities are supportive of local businesses and vendors, and most host events that give individuals a chance to meet others in their communities. With spring and summer just around the corner look into your local markets, craft fairs, and library events. Depending on what your focus is, you may want to consider getting involved in Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis.
And, keep in mind, the greater your local involvement, the more potentially newsworthy angles you have for increased exposure. And as you create a local buzz, it can start building into regional opportunities. Local is truly gold.
Be Writing Your Next Book
I mentioned that zero reviews concern me. After that, the second biggest challenge I see as a book marketing company, is trying to promote an author who has no plans for a next book. Because no one retires off of one book. It won’t even make you mildly famous. Hell, it won’t even pay off your car.
Are your dreams shattered?
Now that we have that out of the way, start thinking about your next book and get writing! Because readers love an author who is in it for the long haul. Just like a website shows your commitment to the long term, so do plans for future books.
The Bottom Line
Yes, you can hire a book marketing company without ticking off all these strategies, or any of them for that matter, because the reality is you have to start somewhere and yes, I really can help almost anyone, somehow.
But let this be a lesson in expectations!
You can’t show up to a party with a half empty bottle of wine, cold leftovers and expect everyone to be excited to see you.
The same goes for book marketing. So if your book is over a year old, you have no reviews and no online presence, you’re going to have a tough time showing that you are putting in the effort. And not only will your potential readers notice, but you won’t get as much bang for your book marketing bucks.
I can only speak for my book marketing company, and while I’ll of course offer you what I can, along with any tips and recommendations for opportunities still available to you, you may not be wowed with the results.
And the level of control we have over our book marketing as indie authors is both our biggest challenge and biggest blessing. Because while our success is within our power, we have to work harder for it and stay motivated. The good news.
After all these truth bombs though, there is lots of good news. You can always start putting these strategies into action. And, every new release is a fresh chance to do things right! And by getting your infrastructure and your game plan into place now, your next release might just be the big break you’ve been waiting for!
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.