It Isn't About Book Sales: It's About Career BuildingBy Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Adapted from the multi award-winning flagship book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of
books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter, Third Edition
In a writer's world sharing is sometimes as important as the creative aspect of building a book. The trouble is sharing—for many—translates into selling books. Of course, we all want to do that, but we tend to lose sight of the fact that we will eventually sell a whole lot more books and, in doing so, share with a whole lot more people, if we concentrate on building our careers. Indeed, for some authors with nonfiction books based on their businesses and professions, the whole purpose of the book is to increase credibility and exposure for themselves and careers.
What many authors think of when they think of book sales is the kind of hardsell that most would rather eschew. When they decide to do it anyway because they know they should, they may skip learning something about marketing first and their efforts backfire on them. I have a motto: “Never say, buy my book.” Keep reading for better ways to market your book and yourself.
Here's the surprise. Marketing—marketing anything—isn't about selling. Marketing a book is about finding the people who will benefit and appreciate what the author has to share and then letting those people know how they will benefit (or avoid problems) by reading it.. And there is a lot of writing that goes along with it and that's what we do. And there is real pleasure in seeing our marketing efforts succeed and seeing our careers build as we do more of it and learn more about it. Here are some ideas of giving-sharing kinds of marketing from my Frugal Book Promoter. Each may be used as a part of a launch campaign or to nudge exposure for books that have been around a while.
§ Meet new readers by running a contest on your website, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors to share their books; many will donate one to you in trade for the exposure. Watch the 99 Cent Stores for suitable favors to go with them.
Hint: Any promotion you do including a contest is more powerful when you call on your friends to tell their blog visitors or Facebook pals about it.
• Barter your books or your services for exposure on other authors’ websites. Other authors tend to understand your need to build your career and to sell your books. You'll make long lasting friends doing it.
• Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Students can become valued friends and fellow writers. Publicizing the classes is easy and free and helps build your author-name recognition. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. Use your teaching experience in your media kit to show you have presentation skills.
• Send notes to your friends and readers asking them to recommend your book to others. Or offer them a perk like free shipping, gift wrap, or small gift if they purchase your book for a friend. That’s an ideal way to use those contact lists—the ones I show you how to build in The Frugal Book Promoter—and to let personal friends share in your exciting publishing adventure.
• Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) can be networking experiences. Read that word "networking" as "making friends who want to work with you." Check the guidelines for the free review service blog I started to help fellow authors extend the life of their favorite reviews. It's at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com.
• Connect and reconnect. Subscribe to new blogs and newsletters to get new ideas, new opinions. Start reading the ones you once subscribed to again. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book. Offer to help them with guest articles and blogs. Enter their contests. Communicate on their forums.
• When you ship signed copies of your book, include a coupon for the purchase of another copy for a friend—signed and dedicated—or for one of your other books. Some distributors insert fliers or coupons into your books when they ship them for a small fee.
• Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. She puts a coupon for your book in her shipments; you do the same for her in yours.
• Be sure your Amazon buy pages amplify the effects of their logarithms and utilized the benefits they offer through AuthorCentral.
• Explore the opportunities for speaking on cruise ships. Many have cut back on the number of speakers they use, but your area of expertise may be perfect for one of them. I tried it, but found ship politics a drawback. Still many authors like Allyn Evans who holds top honors in Toastmasters and Erica Miner have used these venues successfully. Do know, however, that you need a knockout platform including speaking credits.
• I call reviews forever-reviews because they hang around forever. And because they are forever useful even when a book that is aging. In fact, I think they are so important to your career that I wrote an entire book on how to get them, how to manage them on places like Amazon, and how to utilize them…well, forever. It is, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.
Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success won the Next Generation Millennium Award for Marketing. The just-released third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, published by Modern History Press, is New! Expanded! Updated! Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction books have been honored by the likes of Writer’s Digest, USA Book News Award, the Irwin award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards and more. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry. Each of them helped her learn more about maximizing marketing efforts for different writers, different titles. Learn more at www.howtodoitfrugally.com