Today we’re hosting Day 5 of a 5-day virtual tour for The Balance by Michael Selden.
This tour is sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center.
In today’s post, Michael offers some…
Marketing Tips for Authors
Promoting a book is probably among the most difficult things to do, especially for small, independent publishers.
Many channels are not open to them.
Millions of books are published every year, and organizations like ALA use the big five publishers as filters to help them separate the grain from the chaff – who can blame them?
But the book publishing business, like the music business before it, is changing, and many of the entrenched interests can see it coming.
There are a number of channels available for marketing:
• Press releases
These are one-shot advertisement, usually used to announce a new book or that a book won an award.
• Book reviews
Both organic (such as when individual readers comment on places like Amazon, or GoodReads)
Both in print and on the Internet.
Print channels include journals that cater to libraries ad digital ads are ubiquitous, web sites, Google ads, Facebook, Twitter and other social media
Who specialize in literary topics like books.
Most are focused on one or two genres, or they might specialize in age groups, like children’s literature.
There are also companies that specialize in helping you reach readers. They can be quite expensive, and price is no guarantee of success.
I think the most important sales tool an author has are book reviews, because a review means that someone was impacted by the book and was willing to take the time to comment on it.
Without reviews books can languish unread for years.
The kinds of approaches I’ve used, with varying degrees of success, have been working with bloggers to discuss my books, social media, and advertising.
Of these, advertising has done the most to actually sell books, although I believe this worked best when the book was reviewed or when it won recognition in a competition.
My first book , The Boy Who Ran, won two awards and had a number of good reviews, although it is far from being a big seller.
You have to remember that millions of books are published every year.
Less than 1% of the books published sell even 1000 copies, and only a microscopic number actually make money.
Most of the ones that do are published and marketed by the big five publishers – they have access to well known professional review channels, like newspapers, and their ad budget is more than the average small publisher can afford.
I can’t say that I’ve yet learned the magic recipe for marketing, and I am as open to new ideas as I was just a few years ago, when I started.
In my case, I spend money on Google ad words and on competitions and this past year I even put an ad in Foreword Reviews, but publishing is a tough business.
Events, like signings and book fairs, seem to be getting scarcer as, increasingly, independent bookstores close or reduce operations.
But events, like book fairs or author signings, are a great way to meet readers and other authors, and to exchange ideas.
To support these I have posters made up for each book, and I keep a number of copies on hand.
In an effort to try new methods, my plan going forward is to market new books as they come out and then to back off on the spending, trying to conserve resources for writing and publishing more books.
My sense is that writing quality books will eventually result in success.
If at least one book achieves even average sales and readership, I suspect the readers will look into what other books an author has written.
In the meantime, I’ll run continue to run ads for those books that show results, although with a reduced budget, and I’ll continue to work with book bloggers as I investigate new channels to get the word out.
One thing I’ve recently decided to do is run a series of deep book discounts in conjunction with an advertising campaign.
I plan to use marketing services that do direct emailing to readers, hoping to get people interested in my writing.
This was recommended to me by a friend who works in the book publishing business.
I know that this article doesn’t exactly sound inspiring, but – like anything else – book marketing is a matter of perseverance and hard work.
I don’t have to make money writing – it would be nice, but I write because I like to write, which, I think, is the only reason to do it.
To follow all 5 days of this virtual book tour, just go to the National Writing for Children Center.