Let’s be absolutely clear: There is no one, right way to market your work. That said, there are some things that will help make marketing your work easier. In this week’s post we’re taking a look at some of the best practices of author marketing.
Do something every day
The volume of things you could be doing to market your work can get overwhelming. Just keeping up with email campaigns, social media campaigns, booking podcasts, writing guest blog posts … the list keeps growing even as we tackle any individual item.
It’s important to know, and keep in mind, that you won’t be able to do it all. Even with a support team, there are always going to be challenges and constraints that make it impossible to get everything done. One of your best practices is to concentrate on the things you can do.
The first rule of effective marketing: Do something every day.
It’s true, there are some marketing strategies that are only effective if you can buckle down for a few hours and put in some real time. But on those days when everything has gotten away from you, and you’re stressing over the backlog of work, you can still have a positive impact to your marketing if you focus on doing the one thing that will get you the best results.
Here are some best practices for marketing yourself a task (and a day) at a time:
- Send an email—If you’ve built a mailing list, you already have one of the best tools for marketing your work. When everything else is dissolving into chaos, take a moment to craft a genuine, heartfelt email to the people who follow your work. Say hi. Ask how they’re doing. Engage with them. One question you could ask: “What was your favorite seen in my book?” This may not seem like marketing, but engaging with your audience will strengthen your relationship with them, and their trust in you. So when you ask them to buy your next book or leave a review or recommend you to a friend, the likelihood that they will goes up. That’s good marketing.
- Schedule a week’s worth of social media posts—You can use a spreadsheet or just a bullet list. Write five posts that will engage your followers on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else you frequent. Again, asking open questions is a good way to interact with people here. The idea is to get people responding to you, so there’s a conversation to keep moving. In the course of that conversation you’ll get a chance to pitch your book. For now, make this an opportunity to get your readers talking to you, and talk back to them.
- Make a list of podcasts and blogs you can approach—This is more ‘indirect marketing,’ but building a list can be a time saver later. The next time things get too hectic, you can pick a name from the list and reach out for an interview or guest post.
- Place an ad on Facebook—Even if you haven’t honed your Facebook ad skills, you can quickly and easily place an ad by boosting a post. Facebook has really beefed up the functionality of this system, to the point where you have very fine control over messaging, images used, target demographics, and even the interests of our audience. Start by writing a post that promotes your book, along with reasons why people might enjoy it, and add an eye-catching image. Set your budget and go. You can track the ad easily in the Facebook Ad Manager app, or from the ad manager in Facebook itself. Set it and let it run for a few days to see how it’s doing, and you can always make adjustments or even disable it.
- Seek out a promotion—Pop into one of your Facebook or Meetup groups and ask if anyone knows about any joint promotions that are about to start. You’ll often find author friends engaged in some of these, and they usually want to bring in as many authors as they can. These are perfect for list building, but you can also see some book sales come out of them.
The key here is to think creatively, and to always have a few go-to strategies at the ready. The list above is an easy set of best practices, and you can do any or all of those in under an hour each day. Pick two or three that you enjoy and do those over and over, if you want. As long as you’re doing something, then you’re making progress.
Measure, evaluate, repeat
Marketing is measuring.
All of the relationship building and ad placement and email and social media campaigning amounts to a stream of data coming your way every day. That data is invaluable for improving your marketing efforts—but only if you’re using it.
As data comes in, you need to examine it and determine what’s working and what isn’t. Sometimes even your most clever efforts turn out to be useless. And when that happens it’s time to take an exit and find a new road to follow.
Of course, some of your strategies will actually produce good results. And when that happens you need to pay close attention, learn from what you did, and try it again. Tweak it to see what happens, experiment to see if you get different results, but go out of your way to try to refine your approach and improve the outcome.
Data is the result of input—whatever marketing strategy you attempt is going to produce some sort of result, and you can track that. How you track it is up to you—use a spreadsheet, make a bullet list, jot things on Post-it notes—but you’ll want to keep that data handy so that you can look it over, decide what you did to get that result, and than make adjustments and try again.
- Repeat success.
- Forget failure and ump what isn’t working.
- Experiment liberally to find new results.
ABL (Always Be Learning)
Marketing is an ever-changing landscape, and new things pop up all the time. That’s why it’s important to be a part of a community of people who share your general goals. By keeping in a continuous conversation with other authors and marketers, you’ll start learning new best practices, tricks, and strategies.
In addition to your community, you should constantly seek out a marketing education through books, podcasts, blogs, and articles.
Don’t just stick to author-related content, either. You’ll find your toolbox of ideas growing exponentially if you start looking at other industries to see how they market their products, and then emulate those as closely as you can.
This is where tracking and testing come in. Not every marketing idea is right for every business, so you’ll want to tinker a bit, and figure out what works best for you. Try an idea, and if it doesn’t work try modifying it. If it still doesn’t work, move on.
The key to any good marketing strategy is to be open-minded and always learning. And it doesn’t hurt to put your powerful imagination to work. Try to look at the world around you with your author eyes on, and see if you can spot things that might be useful to you.
Those logos and ads on the side of a bus—could you advertise your books with a car door decal?
That meme on Facebook—could you do something clever with your cover art or photos of people holding up your book?
That radio commercial with a catchy jingle—could you travel back in time to when radio spots were still relevant? Kidding … but could you sponsor a podcast, or a YouTube channel?
If you look around and keep your mind open to the possibilities, there are as many ways to market yourself as there are bikers at a rib joint. Try a few things. Experiment. Best practices are not the only practices. And do at least one thing every day that moves you along the course.
We hope marketing seems less daunting now, and if you haven’t already, check out the other posts in our Author Marketing 101 series going over the Basics and Advanced Marketing.