Book Marketing 101: How to Market a Book
Writing a book is one thing, but making sure people know your book is available for purchase is another thing entirely. In this article, you’ll find out what you need to know about book marketing, and when it makes sense to enlist professional help through book marketing services, including how to become a bestselling author. Sounds good, right? Then buckle up because this is going to be a wild ride through the promise and perils of book marketing!
6 Book Marketing Myths Busted Wide Open
While prospect of becoming a successful author is incredibly exciting, it’s also important to ground yourself in realistic expectations about what you can accomplish on your own and when you need to get help with book marketing services. Below are some book marketing myths that need to be busted wide open in order for you to go into all this with your eyes wide open:
Myth #1: If I Publish It, People Will Buy It
Many new authors suffer from what can be called Field of Dreams Syndrome. Have you ever heard the phrase: If you build it, they will come? It comes from the famous 1989 baseball fairy tale movie, Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. The phrase isn’t actually used in the movie (it’s If you build it, he will come), but it came to be associated with the film and generally means just dreaming about something isn’t enough, you have to take action and persevere to make your dreams a reality.
Applying this to the realm of books, you might be tempted to assume, If I publish it, people will buy it. In other words, after going through the hard work of writing your book and then the hard work of getting your book published, you might be tempted to sit back and think you’re done. Not true! If you don’t do anything more, it’s unlikely you’ll reach successful author status, let alone bestselling author status. You must have a robust strategy and plan for book marketing to fulfill your dreams.
Myth #2: All Marketing is Inherently Spammy and Icky
A lot of people simply find the whole idea of “marketing” distasteful. This is understandable, given how much marketing happens that is spammy and icky. People are bombarded constantly with all kinds of crappy marketing, so of course you don’t want your book to be guilty of that, right? Here’s the thing you must understand: Marketing is simply the reality of how things work, and there is no way around it. Back in 2013 there were more than 300,000 books published in the US alone—a figure that nowadays, with the rise of self-publishing, is well over a million. There is simply no way for your book to stand out from a crowd like that without book marketing. The marketing for your book doesn’t have to be spammy or icky, but it is what you have to do to get noticed. Your book might be incredible, but it won’t sell itself. People have to be made aware it exists and is worth buying, which is what marketing does for you. If your personal opinion of the idea of “marketing” is that it’s always a dirty word, then work on shifting your mindset to one where you can tolerate it as a necessary task along the way to becoming a successful author.
Myth #3: A Traditional Publisher Will Handle Book Marketing
This myth is pervasive among new authors. But all you have to do is ask anyone who managed to get a traditional publishing contract for their book and they will tell you none of it worked the way they thought it would. First of all, thinking your book is going to get picked up by any of the “big” publishers is simply naïve. They don’t even accept unsolicited manuscripts, which means you have to hire a literary agent to shop your book proposal around to publishers. If they’re successful, then you’ll end up paying the agent a hefty commission—such as 15% of all books sales after publication. And the traditional publisher is going to keep much larger percentage of those sales than that, leaving very little for you as the author.
How much effort a publisher actually puts into marketing book will vary widely from publisher to publisher, but in many cases it’s little more than sending out advance review copies. The only books they are going to put serious and limited marketing resources into are those they think really have a shot at becoming popular and selling lots of copies, or those from their top authors that have already proven themselves. Trying to land a traditional publishing contract because you think they’re going to do all the book marketing you need is a mistake, and a waste of your time.
Myth #4: People Who Read My Book Will Market It
Some new authors think all they have to do is sell those first few copies of their book and then those readers will spread the word and trigger an avalanche of sales. That’s a very nice dream, but it’s not the reality of how things work. If your first book sales are all to family and friends, then it’s unlikely that any word-of-mouth marketing they do is going to reach very far outside your immediate social network. After all, the people they’re most likely to talk to about your book are the very same people you’ve already contacted. They may create some ripples, like dropping a small pod in a stone creates ripples, but those ripples quickly dissipate. Book marketing takes a sustained effort over weeks and months to achieve any real success. Your mindset has to be in it for the long haul.
Myth #5: I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ List
This is another myth common to new authors. What these new authors are really saying is that they don’t have an email list and don’t know how to go about building one, so they brush it off by saying they don’t need a list. Make no mistake, you do need an email list. It is by far the single most effective tool for book marketing. But if you’re a new author, then you don’t have a list, and the task of building one feels like it’s a lot of work and will take a long time (all of which is true). This is when working with the right book marketing services provider can make all the difference to you becoming a successful author. For now, just know that there is great power in a list, and it’s worth the time an effort to start building your own list over time.
Myth #6: My Book’s Success is Just a Matter of Pure Luck
Falling back on this myth is really just an excuse for laziness in not wanting to put any effort into book marketing. That said, it’s also true that there is an element of luck involved. You could do everything right with book marketing and still not succeed. Putting the effort into book marketing also doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly increases the chances of success by many times. If you don’t do any book marketing, then you’ll always be wondering how much better your book might have done had you put in the work on marketing. If you do put in the work on book marketing and your book still doesn’t succeed, then at least you’ll know you did everything you could, you just struck out for whatever reason. See the difference?
Now that you have a firmer understanding of the necessity of great book marketing and won’t fall prey to any of those six myths above, it’s time to get to the juicy stuff!
The Foundational Elements to Book Marketing
There are all kinds of things that can go into book marketing. Some of them are foundational elements upon which you build a variety of book marketing components. What follows are the foundational elements of good book marketing:
Putting the Book into Book Marketing
This may come as a shock to some people, but you do in fact have to write a book before you can market it! Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get the idea they should have a book and immediately start dreaming about what it will be like to be a successful author. What they’ve done, however, is conveniently skipped over the one thing they have to do before they can call themselves an author, which is to actually write their book! A lot of people fall in love with the idea of being an author but don’t want to do the writing part of the equation.
You can’t call yourself an author until you publish a book, and you can’t publish a book without first writing the manuscript. Well, you don’t have to do the actual writing if you don’t have the time or ability because you always have the option of hiring a ghostwriter to do the writing work. But even then you still have to have the basic idea and content of the book you have in mind, whether it’s a book about your life, your take on how to succeed in business, the plot of what you think could be the next great American novel, and so on. Getting to a completed draft manuscript is a foundational item in book marketing because you can’t market a book that doesn’t exist!
Every Manuscript Needs Some Polishing
Many new writers find out the hard way that editing their own writing is not a good idea. If you’ve seen commercials for a popular brand of air freshener that emphasizes how you become “nose-blind” to odors in our own home, then you can apply the same concept to your own writing. You tend to be blind to things in your own writing that need to be fixed or could be improved. Even simple typos are more likely to slip by you if you try to edit your own writing. Your task as a writer is to come up with a draft manuscript, probably with several rounds of rewriting sections you feel aren’t working well enough. Once you have a draft manuscript you think it ready to go, that’s when you need someone other than you to do a thorough round of editing. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on this, shop around for someone who can do a combination of developmental editing and copyediting because both need to happen, and both are important.
What’s the difference between developmental editing and copyedting? Developmental editing is the big-picture evaluation of your manuscript, including whether or not it has the right structure, whether you’ve provided enough details so readers aren’t confused, if you’ve provided sufficient secondary research to back up your claims, and if there are any issues about the flow of the writing that aren’t working (such as paragraphs that are too long, chapters that have too much information packed into them and need to be broken up, and so on). Copyediting, on the other hand, zeroes in on the details to fix typos and grammatical mistakes, simply overly complex sentences, improve word choice, smooth over awkward phrasing and sentence structures, and so on. Once your manuscript has had a round of professional developmental editing and copyediting, then you’re ready to rock-and-roll.
Judging Books by Their Covers
Everyone knows your supposed to never judge a book by it’s cover. But that phrase is more about judging people than books, right? Granted, there could be an utterly wonderful, high-quality book hiding behind a really terrible book cover design, but no one’s going to actually buy the book to find out! Why? Because when it comes to book shopping, everyone most definitely judges a book by its cover. Books with bad covers don’t tend to not sell well, if at all.
There are exceptions, of course. Prolific superstar authors with an established fan base can get away with the occasional less-than-stellar cover because the book will sell based on their reputation as an established author. Stephen King could put the worst cover ever on his next book and it would probably still become a bestseller. Famous people and celebrities don’t need to do anything except slap a photo of themselves on the cover of their book because their celebrity status is what will sell their book. But for new authors without an established reputation or fan base or celebrity status, you want to make sure the cover design for your book is top-notch. Having a fantastic cover design will make all other book marketing efforts more fruitful.
What’s on the Inside is Also Important
What many new authors don’t realize is how much book formatting matters, meaning the interior layout and design of how the text is presented on the pages of the book. When the insides of your book are done right, no one will really notice. But if the interior design is bad, you can bet people will notice, and they will comment, and they may never finish reading your book and give it a bad review, which could result in fewer sales. Yes, the interior design of your book is that important.
Interior design and formatting is all about the choice of font, the spacing between lines, the margins, what the beginning of a new chapter looks like, and other considerations that go into making sure your book is reader-friendly on a physical level. And you’re going to want not only a printed book design (paperback, hardcover, or both) but also an eBook design given the rising popularity of eBooks in the digital age of the twenty-first century. There is a whole different set of considerations that come into play when it comes to eBook design because the reader will use some kind of electronic device, whether it’s an eReader, tablet, phone, laptop, desktop, and so on.
Those are the foundational elements you want to get right because a solid foundation will make all your other book marketing efforts easier and more effective.
The Primary Components of Book Marketing
There are dozens and dozens of things you can do to market a book, and while they can all help to some extent, the ones listed below are the handful of primary components that have the most impact on getting the word out effectively about your book:
The Email List Campaign
One of the best ways to jump-start a rush of sales is by writing up a killer email about your book and sending it to a list of people who love getting notified about the latest and greatest book they should read. There are two tasks embedded in this book marketing component:
The first task is writing the content of the email. This copy needs to be carefully crafted with some marketing expertise in order for it to have the intended effect. If you don’t have the marketing chops to pull this off, find someone who does and have them do it for you (for a fee, no doubt).
The second part of the task is having an email list to send it to. If you’re a new author, you probably don’t have such a list. Over time, you want to be building up your own list of fans who you know will be eager to buy your next book (if there will be one) or who might be interested in your other content, such as a business you own. In the meantime, enlist the help of a book marketing services provider who does have a carefully cultivated list they will use on your behalf. A quality provider will have a huge database of emails they can draw on and filter for your specific category of book. These are people who love buying and reading great books and are the most likely to respond to a suggestion in an email from someone they trust. Never underestimate the power of a list! And it’s worth paying for book marketing services that include a robust email list campaign to help achieve success on your very first book.
eReader Advertisements (Kindle and Nook)
Although eBooks still represent a relatively small slice of the book sales pie ($2.04 billion out of $26 billion in annual books sales), it’s only going to keep rising. A highly targeted group of book readers are those who buy and read eBooks on eReader devices, including Amazon’s Kindle and the Nook by Barnes & Noble. People who own those devices are worth reaching through paid advertising on those platforms. If you don’t have the expertise or desire to figure out the ins and outs making this happen (including writing up marketing-savvy ad copy), work with a book marketing services provider who can. It will be worth the effort, and more so over time as more and more people continue to shift toward eBooks.
Social Media Advertisements
Of all the different social media platforms, Facebook is the only one with a general demographic profile that is worth engaging in some paid advertising (retargeting ads) for book marketing. The others simply aren’t worth the time or money. In some cases a LinkedIn campaign might be worthwhile for the right kind of business book, but LinkedIn ads are also the most expensive of all the social media platforms. However, if you have a business book and already have a decent number of connections or followers on LinkedIn, you should by all means leverage that for your book by posting about it on your own with or without paid advertising. Once again, having some marketing expertise for writing up the copy used in ads and posts is very helpful, which means turning to a book marketing services provider.
Reader Reviews of Your Book
For better or for worse, getting reviews for your book does matter. On Amazon this has to be handled just right. You must never pay anyone to write and post a review of a book. And Amazon is also very diligent (creepily so in some cases) about weeding out reviews from family members and even some close friends. Yes, this is one case where it really does feel like “Big Brother” is watching, so be careful. It is okay to ask people to review your book after buying it. And having a solid dozen or so reviews early on in your book launch is a very good thing to aim for.
The Book Launch Promotion
All these primary components have the biggest impact of all when they’re combined during a critical week-long book promotion where the eBook version is offered at a discounted price (typically 99 cents). There are tons of people out there who love grabbing what promises to be a great read at a discounted price, and when you’ve got a robust email list campaign, eReader ads, Facebook ads, and reader reviews all coming together during this vital week-long book promotion, the results can be a critical mass of awareness that does start the snowball effect that can further lead to more sales, more reviews, and more recognition for a great book. As you might imagine, this takes a good deal of coordination and marketing savvy that might feel like too much for a new author to take on, which is why finding the right book marketing services provider may be the best decision you make when it comes to publishing and marketing your book.
Authors Unite: Expert Book Marketing Services
Throughout this wild ride through the promise and perils of book marketing you’ve seen some persistent myths busted wide open, you’ve learned about the foundational elements of book marketing, and you’ve discovered the primary components of book marketing that have the biggest impact on becoming a successful author. When you hit them all in just the right way, you can even crack the nut of how to become a bestselling author! But you’ve also discovered just how much time and effort and expertise is needed to do book marketing right. Authors Unite is the book marketing services provider you need to become a truly successful author, including both profitability and impact.
At Authors Unite we offer an array of publishing, book marketing, and business growth packages that have helped hundreds of authors achieve levels of success they only dreamed about. The savviest and happiest of our clients used their book to leverage themselves upward in their professional career.
Take Chris Kai, for example. We took him through the Authors Unite process to launch his book, Big Game Hunting: Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities. Firing on all cylinders (and we always do that), he achieve bestseller status at Amazon—and after earning that badge of honor he then landed his first $30,000 keynote speech. That’s the power of a successful book and becoming a bestselling author, and it’s just the beginning of where it can take you. Achieving bestseller status is awesome in and of itself, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving because it opens up many more doors of opportunity, and all you have to do is walk through them to realize the benefits.
When you leverage book marketing in all the right ways, you’ll be able to quickly start landing all kinds of “media gigs” that serve to further market your book and your own personal brand or business brand. Guest articles on popular blogs, interviews on podcasts with thousands and thousands of devoted listeners, even mainstream media outlets including print media, radio, and television. It creates a rising tide of recognition and a wave of interest you ride all the way to the shores of success. And although every wave eventually recedes, you’ll be hooked and want to write your next book to start the process all over again—and Authors Unite will be ready to help!
Our nine different service packages include the following:
Finishing Your Book with Authors Unite
- Publishing: Custom book cover by a world-class designer; professional interior layout; paperback and eBook formats included; all publishing details (ISBN, Amazon book page setup, Amazon author page setup, etc.); printing and distribution through major online retailers; you keep 100% royalties and have 100% ownership of the book.
- Publishing + Editing: Everything listed above plus several rounds of developmental editing and copyediting.
- Publishing + Writing: Work with a professional ghostwriter to produce your book when you lack the time or writing skill to get the job done.
Book Marketing Services by Authors Unite
- Book Launch: Large email list campaigns; highly targeted Facebook and Kindle advertisements 100% done for you; phone and email support. This service helps you become an Amazon Bestseller
- Book Launch+: Everything listed above but increase the email list campaigns and add in highly targeted Nook advertisements. This service helps you become an Amazon Bestseller and Barnes and Noble Bestseller.
- Full Distribution Launch: Expanded email list campaign and more highly targeted ads. This service helps you become an Amazon Bestseller, Barnes and Noble Bestseller, USA Today Bestseller, and WSJ Bestseller.
Growing Your Business with Authors Unite
- Structure: Authority website; sales funnel; search engine optimization; custom design; email marketing integration; lead flow automation.
- Traffic: Strategy session; LinkedIn optimization; growth research; outreach templates and sales scripts; scheduling and follow-up foundation; unlimited scaling.
- Media: Custom media kit; media outreach; scheduling management; interview preparation; media promotion strategy; unlimited media features.
If you’re ready to invest in becoming a truly successful author in order to reap the many benefits that come with it, then it’s time to apply now to get the process started! If you want to learn more about the process and see testimonials from incredibly happy clients who became successful authors through our services, be sure to visit our pudding page—because the proof really is in the pudding!