You will be pleased to know there are ways to market your eBook other than drop-bombing posts into Facebook pages. We have all joined the ‘Promote Your eBook’ groups on social media and we all hoped that it was simply a question of watching our selling figures go through the roof once people clapped eyes on our wonderful literary creations. Big mistake. These groups are predominantly occupied by writers doing exactly what you are doing: drop-bombing your book blurb and Amazon link then leaving. Sure, there are people who hang around, chat to other authors or even share some useful tips; but generally speaking, this kind of marketing won’t yield results.
So what is the answer when you are faced with attracting consumers who are already jaded by increasingly annoying marketing tactics? You really need to be thinking about personal engagement with your potential reader as this can be the best marketing tool there is. The standard advice of having a strong email list is definitely good advice but its not always easy to achieve, particularly if, like many authors, you have the characteristic traits of an introvert. Unfortunately, marketing your book is as important as writing the damn thing, but as a creative person you don’t want to be brought back to earth by having to focus on the business aspect of your literary work. The sad truth is, however brilliant your book, sending it out into the world with no marketing will lead to one result: no readers.
The best way to build an audience is to give something away. If you have a website (another ‘must’ according to the experts) you can give away a free eBook or PDF to everyone who subscribes to your mailing list, and it’s very easy to use a simple plugin which encourages visitors to leave their email address in return for your free giveaway. While your list is small, its easy enough to send emails individually, but as your list grows you will need to become more efficient at sending multiple emails and using a service such as MailChimp will make this process much easier. The advice I would give is to always address your recipient by their name rather than a standard ‘Dear Subscriber’ , and more importantly, communicate with your subscribers even when you’re not trying to sell them something. Just drop them a few short sentences every week to let them know what you’re working on and giving a few tips for productivity, but also ask them what they’re working on and if there are any areas you can help them with. Communicating with your readers is a time-consuming but necessary part of your marketing tactics; this is so important because you will find that you can build a tribe of true fans and followers.
So what about some more sneaky marketing tricks? Well, struggling author Ruth Saberton decided to be proactive when she discovered that Richard and Judy, former hosts of the UK TV show, This Morning, lived down the road; she packaged up her manuscript and simply left it on their doorstep. Richard and Judy loved the book so much they used their influence to bag her a major publishing contract. Read the story here. That’s sneaky marketing at its very best. You need to think way outside the box to make this work; there are so many websites, books and podcasts explaining the standard methods of marketing, and while they are all very valid and relevant, millions of people are all following the same advice and the channels of advertising become flooded, and therefore less effective.
Here is another sneaky marketing tactic you might want to consider if you’re feeling brave; create something controversial. Yep, you read that right; go out of your way to p*ss people off. The thing is, in this game, you are going to have the haters so you might as well have them hate you legitimately. Give them something to be angry about and remember this: for every hater, there will be someone who agrees with you. You can spark off massive interest and debate when you create controversy, and the people who follow you on this basis often turn into fiercely loyal fans because they feel you give them a voice for a different point of view. If you were to write a book about how horrible children are, you would appeal not only to the people who agree with you, but you would also have many indignant mothers up in arms for having such a heinous point of view. With any luck, they will vocalise their indignation at the school gates and in NetMums. Any publicity is good publicity.
There are many suggestions that you should try and personalise your brand; make your personality a big part of what you are trying to sell. Okay, well I have a personally tested opinion on this. I have written several books on many subjects; basically I genre-hop which goes against all the usual advice, but hey. So, I have an example of one of my books which relates to me personally; it’s about my struggle with weight, ‘The Big Fat Truth’; This book has done relatively okay but I’ve found that most people who have bought it to date are people who have a link to me, no matter how tenuous. An example of completely the opposite type of book subject which has none of my personality or opinions is ‘Isis: Inside the Mind of a Terrorist’ which is a psychological study of why people become extremists. My interests are certainly evident from that book as I have studied Psychology, but my opinion is not remotely addressed, I simply address the subject matter with no personal viewpoint. That book to date has outsold all my others and the readers have no direct link or interest in me what so ever. So the advice to try and inject your personality is not actually the right advice every time. As a general rule, people don’t care about you or your opinion UNLESS it can help them; so for instance, ‘The Big Fat Truth’ can benefit someone who is going through the same weight issues. Its a tough thing to say but most people will have the ‘What’s in it for me?’ attitude; and why not? After all, they are buying your book to either help or entertain them, but you need to take all of this into account when marketing your book. If it’s a subject that is best told from a personal viewpoint like a self help book, then look for the groups of people who will benefit from that subject matter and target them; if it’s a factual study of the history of Roman popes then the people buying that probably won’t give two hoots which pope you like the best. This whole paragraph can be summed up in one sentence: Don’t market widely; market wisely. Target your audience carefully.
Here’s another unusual marketing tactic which screams ‘DON’T DO IT!!’ at you, but just hear me out. If you have written something that goes beyond some of the 20-page junk that Kindle attracts, consider pricing it a little higher. The standard 0.99, 1.99 and 2.99 are supposedly the best pricing range to attract buyers, but I think that doesn’t account for a vast section of Kindle book readers who are more discerning. I’m a real eBook window shopper, trawling through many pages of books before finding one I want to read, and the ones that catch my eye among all those standard prices are the books with the higher price tags. It’s reverse psychology really; it makes me question what those books are offering that makes them worth a higher price. The result? I look at them more carefully to determine whether they are offering more value for me. It also pays to remember that many customers are subscribers to Kindle Unlimited which means the price is less of an issue for them; in fact, they actually feel encouraged to choose a higher priced book as it seems more of a bargain. Although the current Amazon payment rate works only for pages read, it’s worth the pay-off if you get some good reviews out of it.
On a more local level, why not contact your local newspaper? I used to freelance for regional newspapers, and trust me, anything slightly different from local flower shows and school fetes were an absolute God-send. You can make your books seem exciting, or you can play up your personal story of how you became a published author. Generally, us writers tend to hide our light under a bushel but local newspapers are a chance to really paint an amazing self-portrait. Writers are brilliant at writing gripping blurbs, so get creating and either send an impressive email to the editor, or if you’re feeling really brave, ring them and offer to do an interview with a reporter. Also getting some reasonably priced leaflets or fliers printed and placing them around your area can be a good way to drum up some local interest. You may feel that staying so local is not really helping your dream of worldwide literary acclaim but the old adage is true that it only takes one person to turn you into a success. That cafe where you put your leaflets may be the regular haunt of the sister of a London-based publisher who wants to discover some new raw talent. He in turn may know a film producer in America….and so on. Or Richard and Judy could be living just down the road.
Finally, don’t forget to make your social media posts as eye-catching as possible. Use pictures and infographics where possible as these draw the eye for longer than plain, boring paragraphs which take ages to get to the point. Remember that this could be your time to shine but you have to push yourself into the spotlight. However you do it, just find a way to get under that light and stay there for as long as possible. Good luck.