Show me your book marketing ideas, and I’ll show you mine

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book marketing

There’s no shortage of book marketing resources out there for self published authors. My advice? Don’t try to do everything and stick to the tasks you enjoy the most.

Want to learn how to market and promote your self-published book?

Did I really need to ask that question? I know that 11 out of 10 authors will scream a resounding “yes, please!” in response.

The good news: There’s no shortage of book marketing resources out there for self published authors. BookBaby gives all its authors a bunch of great products and services in our BookPromo kit – free to everyone who self publishes with us.

The bad news: There’s a huge amount of book marketing ideas being pushed out over the Internet, through eBooks, conferences, and more. I’d call it more like a glut. If you spend more than an hour researching some of it you’re bound to be overwhelmed. There are so many things you could be doing to promote your book, but which ones are really worth your while?

That’s what was on my mind last week when I was interviewed by Shawn Manaher for The Author’s Hangout Podcast, featured on his website Book Marketing Tools. This site is full of some of the best-of-the-best book marketing tactics, and my talk with Shawn was one of the best discussions I’ve had recently that focused on the challenge of marketing for self-published authors. When the podcast goes live in a few weeks we’ll share the link.

As we were talking about the dozens of ways authors could spend time, energy, and money promoting their books, Shawn asked me to share what I thought was the single most important marketing tip for self-published authors.

My answer was probably different from what he expected: I didn’t answer it by saying things like “build your own website,” or “comment on other people’s blogs to get discovered.” My response was more about how authors approach book marketing as they now know to be an essential part of their overall writing career.

My answer was in two parts:

  1. Don’t try to do everything.
    You could produce a check list of items 10 pages long that might/could work to help market your book. That’s spreading yourself too thin. Don’t shotgun your marketing, especially at first. Pick just a few things – maybe two or three tasks – and do them well. Master them before you begin to measure your results.
  2. Do the tasks you enjoy the most.
    Many of the authors I talk with truly do not enjoy the marketing and commerce aspect of self publishing. “I just want to write,” is a familiar message in my email inbox. Yet authors are coming around to the fact that promotion is necessary evil. So lets make it as easy as possible: When you pick the two or three things to help market your book, make sure these are the kinds of activities that are things you naturally enjoy doing in everyday life.

For instance, if you enjoy being at book fairs and shows with authors and readers, try to find ways to promote your book face to face. Maybe that’s renting a table for book signing at local events, or perhaps joining in with a local writer’s organization to participate as a group.

Perhaps you prefer to be the solitary author and simply write. Fair enough: Maybe you’re a good candidate for starting a blog and commenting on other similar writers’ blogs is your way to get the word out there.

My point here is that while marketing might be uncomfortable for many authors, you don’t necessarily have to venture that far outside of your comfort zone to do it effectively. And let’s face it: if it’s an activity that you at least partially enjoy, you’re much more likely to stick to it. And with more repetition will come success.

I might not have answered Shawn’s question in the way he was expecting it. So I’d like to throw it open to our loyal BookBaby blog readers:

Share with us the single most valuable and effective marketing tactic you’ve found worked for your own self-published book.

Send them to me in an email (steven@bookbaby.com). I’ll compile your ideas and put them out on a blog post in late May.

Image by place-to-be via ShutterStock.com.

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.

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