- Be real,
- be fun,
- be helpful.
If you do that, people will buy your books simply because they will like you and will want to support you. In other words, “if people like what you’re saying, they’ll buy what you’re selling.”
I have read many marketing guides, but have come to realize that it all boils down to how people perceive you. In marketing speech, your brand.
Having a consistent author brand is liberating. It allows you to publish pretty much anything you like, irrespective of genre. People will read your books because you have written them – and they trust you to offer them a good time.
That’s great. How about some real tips now?
The other day, a visitor to my blog asked me for some marketing advice. She has published dozens of work, but they encompassed anything from poetry to Bible studies. She had had little luck promoting these, as her marketing efforts spread too thin to be effective.
After taking a look at her social media and her work, I suggested she used her blog as her main point of reference. She has a lot working for her there:
- She has an engaging, fun style of writing that makes people leave comments.
- She promptly responds to said comments, which is the best way to be real.
- She offers interesting and helpful information.
- Finally, she offer freebies, and uses those to get people’s email addresses. So, she can keep in touch with visitors.
In other words, she is already following my real-fun-helpful advice and has built what is, effectively, a great shop front. Now, all she needs is bring more people in.
The first thing I noticed working against her, is post frequency. Her latest post was last week, but before that she had posted in late October. And before that? In August.
One needs to post at least once a week for a blog to be an effective means of brand-building. Even simple reblogs help, although fresh material always carries more punch.
Second, she needed to connect her posts to the rest of her social presence. The first step is to announce her posts across her social media whenever she publishes something. This can be set up to happen automatically. But that’s just the beginning.
One also needs to repost your posts on a regular basis. For example, post on Google+ backlinks to your blog every week – heck, every day if you can! Choose a different post each time, and backlink to it. Google will immediately push your blog up in searches, thus generating easy (and free) visibility.
I’m stressing Google+ here because of the way Google allows its content to influence its search results. I’ve noticed that I might need to post a link on Facebook ten times to achieve the increase in visibility a single time on G+ guarantees.
You can also schedule automatic tweets to do the same thing, using a service like SocialOomph.
Whenever I promote an older post, I immediately notice the uptick in visits. Posts that nobody would read, suddenly receive comments and reblogs – and bring in new visitors. This is an easy way to make your content work for you.
All this will bring more people in. It’s is then up to you to provide them with fun and helpful content, and to interact in a real manner. This will help boost your brand, and, indirectly, sell your books.
And that will work?
You’re probably wondering just how effective this can possibly be. Well, let me offer an example. You may remember that the other day, I hosted a Facebook party for an hour. The organizer had told me to use that hour to promote my books. Instead, I invited my friends and asked them to talk about their books.
It took some convincing, as they did not want to steal my moment on the spotlight, but they did. This was followed by a fascinating discussion on the present and future of publishing. The hour flew by, and I still had not uttered a single word about me. The poor organizer kept sending me private messages: “You now have 45′ to discuss your books.” “30 minutes left!” “Ten minutes!”
Five minutes before my hour was up, I posted a couple of links with a simple “if you want to find out about me or my work, here’s the links” kind of message.
The next morning I saw that I had sold eight copies, without even trying!
So, my marketing secret is simple: don’t sell your books – sell yourself. And the best way to do that is (repeat after me):
- Be real,
- be fun,
- be helpful.
There is just one caveat with all that: I start with being real because humans have a remarkably sensitive bull#$ meter, honed to perfection by eons of practice. So, don’t pretend to want to help, then ignore people who ask you for your advice. Don’t even bother if you don’t like the idea of connecting with people.
Being fun and helpful is great even if you don’t sell books. They will make you new friends, and that’s even more precious. Plus, it does wonders for your karma! 🙂
The original version of this post first appeared on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog as a guest post.
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I’m away on business until the 14th. Apologies if I’m late in responding to your comments, as it will all depend on our hotel’s Internet connection!