Two Tips for Success in Book Marketing Online

Caricature of Ben Hecht by fellow Chicago Dail...Image via Wikipedia
Marketing is a scary subject for authors. We writers are a solitary, retiring lot - and often proud to be: we need silence and loneliness to write our best stuff, right?

Problem: how can we jump into the marketing jungle and turn ourselves into marketing pros?

That's one reason why a lot of newbies would prefer to sign up with a traditional publisher, figuring most of the marketing would be out of his/her hands.

Well, as we all know, that is no longer quite the case, is it?

Publishers, even the most traditional "legacy" ones, insist we must do our own marketing. And most of it is done online.

There's an advantage to working online: you don't have to waste time travelling around and doing a lot of book signing in different towns. But you have to spread yourself on Facebook with a jazzy fan page and lively groups. You have to Twitter like mad and participate in online discussion forums and make clever comments. You have to set up a web page and a blog, with content, pretty images, videos and what not. Worse, you have to keep it going.

And of course, if you do all that, you have no time left to write!

If you're an author lucky enough to be published by one of the Big Six, you probably feel relatively secure: after all, the publisher's name on the book cover signals that this is a "quality product". So you figure you don't have all that much marketing to do. And the publisher does give you some basic support, for reviews, for interviews and book discussions in book clubs. That's assuming your last book didn't bomb - and that it made at least somebody's bestseller list.

Otherwise, you're likely to find yourself very much on your own, almost like a self-published author.

So, whether you get a contract with a legacy publisher or go the self-publishing route, you're still left with a lot of self-marketing to do.

There are, of course, a lot of market experts out there on Internet ready to help and give you good advice. And there are a lot of sites, including writers' blogs, where you can place ads and obtain interviews and go on a "blog tour". There are even blog tours for indies.

But is it worth spending money on all that? Probably it is if you can find a reliable, experienced marketing adviser. And if you have the time and energy to dedicate to all this.

If not, you'll need a strategy: focus on one or two of the most important things you can do yourself, and stick to that. AND never spend the whole day doing it! ALWAYS set aside time for yourself and to write your book. Give yourself a daily target - say 5,000 words to write - and DO IT!

But what are the two most important online marketing strategies you should follow?

After much thinking about this (and spending days and weeks roaming the Internet and discussing it on forums) I've come to the following conclusions:

TIP ONE: Have more than one book up for sale on the various online sites you have chosen (say Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc). A trilogy is fine, a series is better, several series are best! Why? Because having more than one book for sale makes you look like a professional, established author. In this respect, midlist authors, for once, are in luck. They will find it very easy to satisfy this requirement: all they have to do is recover their past books from the dustbin of forgotten titles and convert the files for e-publishing.

TIP TWO: Get readers reviews, get as many as you can. From friends (that's easy) but also from ezine editors who are interested and looking for new talent. You'd be surprised how many people there are out there who are genuinely interested in books! And ready to do book reviews. Also fellow authors are often willing to do them (after all, they are genuinely interested in books, right, or they wouldn't be writers in the first place...).

The advantage of those tips? Maximum return for a minimum investment. Following the above won't kill you or take away from your writing time!

In my opinion, this works better than either direct marketing (like tweets on Twitter crying out: download my book!) or author interviews on blogs and elsewhere.

Frankly, I don't know about you, but I rarely (if ever) buy a book because the author tweeted about it! Even indirect tweets (from some third person) don't work, at least as far as I can make out. But your experience might be different! If so, please tell me. As to author interviews, I have to admit that I find them, on the whole, incredibly boring unless they concern a celebrity or a top writer, like Stephen King, Dan Brown, Philip Roth or J.K.Rowling...

That's just my humble opinion. And that's the strategy I plan on following: multiple books and lots of readers reviews. I simply don't have the time to dedicate myself to a full marketing campaign just for my first book here (see upper corner, left). I need to write the sequel, Reclaim the Past, or those who've read the first are going to get angry if I don't deliver! I promised it for September, so I better get going! Indeed, if any of you ever felt like writing a review (and posting it on, say, Amazon or Barnes and Noble), that would really help!

What's your take on this?
What kind of marketing works for you? I'd love to know!

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