Do you struggle when marketing your book?
If so, you’re not alone. Book marketing remains one of the biggest challenges—if not the biggest challenge—for writers wanting to expand their careers.
It’s easy to see why writers are struggling. More books are published every year, with self-publishing flooding the market. Bowker reported that self-publishing grew at a rate of 40 percent in 2018 with registered books and ebooks growing from almost 1.2 million in 2017 to more than 1.6 million in 2018. That’s over a million in just one year, and that’s not counting traditionally published books.
The market is swamped, with the supply far outpacing the demand. Readers are more distracted than ever and have a lot of other activities vying for their attention. The Pew Research Center reported in 2018 that 24 percent of American adults hadn’t read a book — in part or whole, in print or electronically or audibly — in the past year.
Meanwhile, as a writer, you probably don’t like the idea of marketing your book. It may feel like sleazy car-salesman-like self-promotion. Or maybe you balk at the idea of having to track metrics and analyze data. If you’re like most writers, you already feel overwhelmed trying to fit writing into your busy life, so how are you going to squeeze in book marketing as well?
There are no easy answers, but there is one big change you can make that may help you feel better about the whole prospect of marketing your books.
It involves how you think about it. Change that, and you could find book marketing suddenly becomes a lot easier, more enjoyable, and potentially more successful, too.
Don’t Think of Marketing Your Book as Marketing
“Marketing” can seem like a dirty word. It brings up images of loud announcers, in-your-face ads, cheesy gimmicks, and slimy salesmen. It’s no wonder writers don’t want any part of all that.
Look up the basic definition of marketing and you find this: “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
Yeah. That’s what we don’t want—to have to promote ourselves and our books, to have to sell ourselves and the products we’ve worked so hard to create.
Whereas the action of creating a story is so pure, marketing feels shallow and base, like we’re taking this thing we love and pimping it out on the streets.
So let’s ditch the word “marketing” altogether and replace it with something else: “serving.” Selling your books isn’t about marketing to your readers. It’s about serving them.
When Marketing Your Book, Give Readers Something They Want
I got a chance to re-watch the great movie Dancing with Wolves several weeks ago. It had been so long since I’d seen it last I’d forgotten a lot of it.
One of the most charming scenes occurs when the main character, John Dunbar, attempts to lure the wild wolf, which he’s named Two Socks, to eat out of his hand.
The relationship started many months before that when the wolf, hungry and thin, first came around Fort Sedgwick where John was stationed. The smell of food brings him near, and John rewards him with a piece of meat flung at his feet.
Thus starts a special friendship that lasts throughout the movie—one that John repeatedly nourishes by giving gifts of meat again and again until the wolf trusts him enough to finally snatch it from his hand in that one touching scene.
Next time you think of marketing, think of John Dunbar. It’s not about self-promotion or pleading with people to buy your book. It’s about offering them something they want—over and over again, until they’re willing to trust you.
You start by luring them in with an attractive website, intriguing social media posts, in-person events, podcasts, guest posts, blogs, and more. When they come closer, you offer them something they’d like—a free report, helpful article, how-to instructions, or quiz. When they finally eat out of your hand—sign up for your newsletter—you reward them even more with additional freebies, great information, and inside deals.
Start by giving. Start by serving. It’s a lot more fun than “self-promotion,” and it will create better results too.
Three Mindset Changes to Make Marketing Your Book Easier
The secret is this: When you change how you think about marketing, marketing becomes more fun, and suddenly you want to do more of it.
1. Instead of: “How can I get people to buy my books?” think, “How can I serve my readers?”
What can you give your readers that they would like? Think about your niche. (For help finding it, check out the award-winning Writer Get Noticed!) If you were coming to your website, what would you like help with?
As a romance writer, maybe you can write blogs offering relationship tips, give out free reports including dating tips, or provide a free pamphlet on romantic vacation ideas.
If you write thrillers, perhaps you can offer readers a glimpse into the exotic locales your characters travel to, give them self-defense tips, or provide a helpful report of the most dangerous places in a particular state.
The minute you start asking yourself, “What would help my readers?” the easier it will be to come up with ideas to attract them your way.
2. Instead of asking, “What can I get?” ask, “What can I give?”
Too often writers look at readers as a means to an end. The more subscribers the more book sales. The more sales, the more money and recognition. We’re thinking of what we can get from these people rather than what we can give them.
Turn it around. Think about your readers as good friends. What can you offer them today that will improve their lives? Maybe it’s just a bit of encouragement. A funny story to brighten their day. A list of tips that can make something they regularly do a little easier.
3. Instead of thinking about what you want from them, think about what they may want from you.
You know you want readers to buy and appreciate your work. But what do your readers want from you?
You can find the answer to that question by experimenting. Write posts within your niche about various topics. Find out which ones get the highest number of readers.
Do the same with your social media and guest posts. Which ones get the most feedback? Determining that will give you a good idea of what your readers want from you.
Of course, this is assuming you’re writing and putting content out there. That’s a given. You can’t expect to figure out what your readers want if you’re not experimenting.
Once you have a few subscribers, you can also survey them. Ask them directly what they’d like to learn more about, or what they need help with. As long as they know you’re truly interested, they’ll tell you.
Bottom line: Make it your mission to serve your reader. Forget about “marketing.” You know you want to anyway! Focus on serving, helping, and giving. It’s a lot easier and more rewarding way to grow your readership and expand your career.
How do you make marketing your book easier?
(For more help in marketing your book, see Writer Get Noticed!, the only author-platform guide that helps you to use your strengths to stand out on the market!)