By Author Willie Handler, @WillieHandler
The number one concern I hear from indie authors is book sales and marketing. I understand. It’s a struggle.
This is my observation from chatting with others. Authors are spending so much time trying to be relevant on every social platform there is. And, occasionally, they're even throwing money into advertising on these platforms with the hopes of making sales. I know. I’ve been there.
And all of it barely makes a difference.
WHY? Because this isn’t marketing. (Don’t beat up the messenger, please.) You might have 15,000 followers, but how many are looking to buy books?
Do you want to be a social media influencer or a bookseller? As far as I’m concerned, this is social media, just one aspect of playing in the market. But it is not bookselling marketing.
Social media is where you can go to connect with other authors and industry professionals, pass around amusing memes, and promote your brand. Along the way, you will sell some books on social media.
There are many differences between indie authors and big presses, biggest being money and resources. But the presses know bookselling technique.
I can tell you that good bookselling technique is completely accessible because it centers around making connections, not paying to magnify your voice in a void.
From my perspective, you build a marketing strategy on a foundation of connections. Too often, indie authors make social media the foundation. Authors tell me about all the social media they use. When I ask what else they do to market, often it’s nothing. Creating content to shout at peers just creates burn out.
It’s not targeting your audience, and it exhausts your creative ability. You spend less time writing and more time pushing your creativity to somehow attract people to who you are online. You go from trying to sell your book to selling yourself.
What about spending that time connecting with book readers? They hang out at libraries, bookstores and book expos. They look for possible reading material from podcasts and articles in local newspapers.
This media isn’t screaming into a void. When you connect with that library, store, podcast and they share with their audience (the real readers, not your author peers!) and now people are hearing about your story and trusting these leads when they say, “buy this book.”
If you’ve never tried making such connections, I strongly urge you to give it a shot. It’s the game changer. This starts with a proper press kit and knocking on all the doors you can find.
Talk to libraries, stores, bloggers, podcasters, universities—anywhere you can possibly appear, create an event, stock books, talk to readers, and get others to talk about your work with people who look to them for books.
The worst anyone can do is decline your inquiry. Fine, you’re not out anything but an email. Send another somewhere else. The chance of a yes and an amazing partnership is worth the effort. And this foundation you’re building is for your career, not just a single book.
Lockdowns have made the foot work harder for making local, in person connections. But they’ve also opened the door for more online opportunities. Develop a newsletter and build up an email list of readers. For my next book release, I’ve compiled a list of almost 1,000 readers.
THIS is marketing that supports a career.
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