How Do I Market This: Marketing Tips for Authors

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Now How Do I Market This?

By Lisa Turnbull
You’ve put in the hard work, let your creative juices flow. Whatever the medium you work in – whether you’re a writer, painter or potter – you are happy with your product, and in your eyes you’re already a winner; but how are your sales figures? Can you do better? These are the important questions. Not everything will sell like hot cakes. Instead, you will come up against the eternal truth: that without some input on your part, some thought given to those anonymous people you want to turn into customers, your fledgling business will be dead in the water. Welcome to marketing! Getting this right will make the difference between success and failure of your book. Maybe you’re short of cash. If so, there are many websites offering free promo listing – a good place to start, although it will also be worth your while spending some money on the project.

You might consider setting up your own website. Many writers do this and find it very effective, although it is not as simple as just getting the thing designed and put online. That’s only the start of the process. You need to think about who is visiting your website, and whether or not they are people who will want to read your book.

At this point you might wonder whether there are any websites covering the subject of online marketing. Well yes, there are many. It’s a subject as broad or deep as you want to make it, and here we can only touch on some of the important points to consider. Of course, the old adage ‘quality sells itself’ is true to some extent. If your writing is poor, all the advertising in the world is not going to sell it – so perhaps the first rule to put down is this: get your writing right, and ensure there is an audience for your work. To go back to that list we began with, whichever field you are writing in, whether it’s arts and crafts, science fiction or reference literature, you will need to study your subject in depth, read around it, see what others have done in the same field, and approach your own work with a high degree of knowledge and not rely on innocence, naivety or pure talent. No great writer wrote without effort.

As for that website you are designing, if its role is to market your work, your first aim should be to attract the right visitors. If a hundred people visit it and nobody buys, what’s the point? What are you doing wrong? You can waste a lot of money attracting the wrong people, and this has to be recovered before you can start making any profit from the right ones – when you’ve finally figured out your mistake!

Visitors to your site

Potential customers may arrive at your website via the organic search listings (those that appear in the main listings of Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.), which are compiled from the database that is created as search engines scan the net, categorizing sites according to content. You need to appear as high on the list as you can when visitors have used the keywords most relevant to your product.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of ensuring your site is as highly ranked on the listings as possible; it can sound great, but the first thing you need to accept is that there is no guaranteed method of putting your website at the top of the list. SEO uses techniques to ensure that each web page has keywords or keyword phrases distributed in a way that will make particular search engines find and catalog pages. Not all search engines work the same way, so the ranking of your website will vary accordingly. SEO specialists keep track of all the changes in searches and can optimize pages accordingly.

Permission based direct marketing

When a visitor arrives at your website, they will need to be rewarded for their efforts. In other words, to keep their interest you need to start a relationship. This is permission based marketing. If they are to give you their contact details, they will need to receive something valuable in return. You will reply with a series of emails with the purpose of encouraging them to read more – eventually leading you to make the sale. This automated sequence of emails or ‘autoresponder’ is a powerful tool for informing the potential customer about your products and for building a mutually beneficial relationship, with the object of making the sale.

Increase your web presence

You’ve got a website that works and people are visiting it. You’ve sorted out the SEO. What else can you do online? Well nothing reassures a potential reader or customer more than a testimonial page. Add one to your website and see how it flies. Include professional reviews and opinions from readers. Ask your readers for their reviews. If you are selling via Amazon, ask readers to post their reviews there. Sign up for Twitter and Facebook, and start a publicity campaign. Build your fan base and start a Google campaign to attract visitors to your website. Link up with other writers and start regular twitter chats with them, as well as with your readers.

Virtual book tours

With traditional printed books, it is usual for an author to go on a book tour to publicize their latest book. This can involve all sorts of activities, from sitting in a bookshop and signing books, giving readings at literary events or book clubs, to visiting libraries and schools. As with anything these days, you can also do it online: whether you have a printed book or E-book to sell, you can sign up online for a virtual book tour. This can include book reviews, guest blogs, and interviews on podcasts or radio shows, social network events or competitions. A short tour may last only for a few days, with lots of blogs being posted at once – a book excerpt, interview or review – designed to increase your book’s sales and quickly raise its Amazon ranking. A tour can be designed entirely around social media, with Twitter chats, Facebook discussions or Google Plus video chats, or these can be mixed with other tour stops as listed above. As part of a book launch, you can also start an ‘Amazon bestseller campaign’, where people who buy a book during a set period of time will receive bonus gifts from the author.

As with any form of marketing, be prepared for rejection. Not everybody is going to want what you’ve produced. That said, if you don’t try you can’t succeed, and it isn’t difficult. Booking a virtual book tour is like booking anything else. Use common sense. Choose who you approach carefully and explain to each blogger, reviewer or podcaster that you understand the needs of their particular audience. Make a spreadsheet with contact information and notes on the sort of content that sits well with each particular contact. Start interacting with those sites, so that when you approach them with your plans for the virtual tour they will be more likely to respond. Set the tour dates and write to everyone on your list individually. Keep it short and show that you are familiar with their site and its content and why you will be of interest to their audience; then, the hard part over, all you have to do is write some great articles, organize interviews and reviews, make videos, and have some fun pulling it all together – and sit back and watch the sales roll in!

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