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Your Book Marketing Questions: Answered!

Your book marketing questions: answered!

The past few weeks, we’ve been sharing all our knowledge about different social media channels and how best to use them to grow your audience. We’ve talked about in-person events too, and how to manage old and new media. To wrap up this series, we wanted to open the floor to your most confounding book marketing questions.

Thanks to our friends in all the author groups for providing the questions.

My book was downloaded 2000 times and I only got 2 reviews. Help?

Book marketing questions: Measure success by appropriate benchmarksReviews are hard. In the first place, people have to remember to add in text with their little stars. Then they have to cross post it. Nobody has time for that. But also, you shouldn’t be measuring reviews by free downloads.

This boils down to understanding your audience. If you’re doing an eBook blast on BookBub or the like, those readers are the voracious ones that read 1-2 books per day. These guys aren’t slowing down for anything, let alone writing a five-word review.

For these folks, you measure success by how many of Book 2 and beyond you sell. If you got 200 downloads of book 2, then you’re rocking a 10% read-through-rate. That’s awesome, because most folks are doing well at 3%.

Instead of looking for reviews from your eBook ads, you should be focusing on the casual reader, who does have time to stop and write a short blurb. This is where soft selling comes into play, as well as a street team, if you have one.

I did everything you said, and my book still didn’t sell and lost money!

Book marketing questions: There's always one or two things you can try when things aren't workingEverything? You did everything? Even we don’t do everything. There’s just not enough time in the day for it all.

My advice if your book isn’t selling is to look at a few different factors. First: Are we talking a series or a standalone? Depending on the genres, standalones can be harder to market. If you’re talking about a series, understand that indie publishing isn’t a bell curve, where all the sales you’re ever going to make are during release week. For indies, it’s more like an exponential curve. Our experience is that books don’t take off until you’ve got at least three books published in the series.

The other thing to do is to take a good, hard look at how your marketing your book. Are you creating relationships with the right influencers? Did you spend the money on a good cover? A good editor? Are you posting good content on a regular basis to social media? Are you interacting with your fans? Have you looked into eBook ads and gauged performance? Have you benchmarked with other authors in your genre?

See what we mean about everything? There’s probably one or two things you can tweak to improve where you are. And if all else fails, there’s one way to sell more books: Write another one.

How do I promote a book that doesn’t fit into a specific category?

No matter the book, no matter the product, no matter the industry: Soft-selling works. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if a book doesn’t fit into a specific category, your method for growing your audience should be exactly the same. Find readers who like things similar to your book and build a relationship with them! Your book is unique, but it’s not that unique. Somewhere out there, another author has something out there that’s got themes and ideas similar to yours. Find them, and then get to work on getting to know those fans.

This is also where Amazon’s keywords come in handy. You can use words and phrases in your seven keywords that more accurately describe your book, and make sure it fits into the right category on the search results.

Got more book marketing questions? Sound off in the comments!

Or, if you’d rather get a one-on-one session, we offer consulting services for authors. At just $6.25 for every 15 minutes, we can help you do everything from clean up your social media to fix the SEO on your blog. Contact us via the form below for more info!

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My Book Is Finished, Now What? Building an Audience

Building an audience: the art of the soft sell

Ideally, you should be thinking about building an audience months (or years) ahead of publication. Audiences grow based on trust–trust that you’re a real person, trust that you’re going to deliver on the promise of good storytelling. Once you’ve got a few folks to trust your work, they’ll work to build trust in their circles, and it snowballs from there.

The hardest part of building an audience is the very beginning. When you “break onto” the scene as an unknown, nobody pays attention to you. Some folks decide to go all-in by throwing their work in people’s faces through emails, tweets, and Facebook posts. We’ve all seen those folks. The ones who respond to an Instagram post with, “Hey, have you read this book by me? Readers are saying it’s amazing!”

ProTip: Nobody believes you.

For those at the very start of the ultra-marathon, we’ve put together some tips to help you get that all-important base. We’ll repeat that it’s much easier to build a following for a book once you have a following as an author, but if you’re like most self-pubbed authors, you’ll have book first.

The Art of the Soft Sell

When someone sends you an automated DM that says, “Hi, thanks for following, Buy my book!” that is called a hard sell. Don’t get us wrong, hard selling has its place. Like the vendor floor of a convention, where people are there to purchase. But in every day situations, you don’t walk up to a stranger and say, “Hey, I just met you, this is crazy, buy my book!”

Online, it’s about the same. Soft selling is the art of building relationships (trust) first, and then selling later. Many times, folks that follow our alter-ego online have never read her book, but they like what she’s putting out. Eventually, when there’s a sale, they’ll purchase and read. Then, they move from casual fan to involved fan and go on to purchase more.

Soft selling doesn’t happen overnight. Effective frequency is the number of times a consumer must be exposed to an advertising message for them to take the desired action. The average person is exposed to ads 362 times per day. There are also over one million books published every year.

But once you’ve got this relationship-building down, it’s easy to see how it transitions into audience-building

Start With Fellow Authors

Now that we know how to sell, it’s time to find people to build relationships with. A good place to start is with other authors. For some, this seems counter-intuitive. Why would you want to partner with your competition? But bookselling isn’t a zero-sum game. Partnering with others in your same genre will help find readers who are more willing to take a chance on an unknown author.

And that’s key to understand: Not everyone will read a self-published book, especially by someone without any brand recognition.

Where do you find fellow authors? Goodreads groups are where our alter-ego, S. Usher Evans began, followed by Facebook groups. You can follow successful authors in your genre, too, if only to see how they interact with their readers.

Building Relationships

When you start out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., the very first thing you do is follow a bunch of people, right? When you’re finding people’s content to consume, make sure you add a few bloggers and authors who read your genre. And then the difficult part…

Talk to them!

When they ask questions, answer. When they post something, reply with something real and constructive. Eventually, they’ll see you and remember who you are. Do that enough times and with enough real human interest, and they might even feel comfortable enough to give you a follow*. Once they start seeing your content more, they might be interested enough to buy, read, and there you go.

*Don’t pester people to follow you. Especially if someone is an author of some renown, keeping their following to those they like and trust is essential to their online safety.

Get Others to Soft Sell You

Once you’ve developed a nice contingent of folks who know you, trust you, and, even better, have read what you’ve put out, then the trick becomes having them soft sell for you. Ideally, this happens naturally. When people ask for a recommendation, your book is on the forefront of their mind, and they’ll tell their friends about it. It may take a few months or years to reach this point, however, so be patient.

The other, best way to have others sell your book for you is to garner reviews. Next week, we’ll talk about ways you can clear that hurdle.

 Why soft selling sells more books

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