Unsurprisingly, authors tend to be really good at writing books. The downside is that their real struggle tends to be marketing their books so that they don’t dissolve right into the market’s river of oblivion (and what’s quicker to forget than the Internet?).
My new book How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market tackles this exact problem: it walks authors through the essentials of book marketing, focusing on finding ways to achieve visibility in a heavily saturated book market.
To start authors off on their journey, I begin by establishing four marketing fundamentals, which I want to share with you today. You’ll notice I don’t go into too much detail here — but you can pick up a digital copy of my book for free if you want to learn more about any of these principles. Now, let us embark on the adventure of book marketing together.
1. Thou shalt know your target market
All your marketing efforts rely on you successfully identifying two things: the kind of book you’re writing and the kind of reader who would be interested in it.
To figure out the kind of book you’re writing, take some time to familiarize yourself with books similar to yours on Amazon and in bookstores. Look for similarities in terms of content, covers, titles, and book descriptions, and think about whether your book could be part of a niche sub-genre — this would allow you to gain greater visibility than if you were competing against the biggest best sellers. For nonfiction, pay special attention to informational content, considering each book’s level of detail and how it’s structured, and make sure to record your observations for future reference.
Now for the question of your readers. Consider your target market’s average reader, their income level, reading speed, and other interests. This is called a “reader avatar” — an imaginary reader on whom you can base your marketing decisions. When in doubt, look at the reviews of books you identified as similar to yours; the Amazon and Goodreads profiles of positive reviewers can tell you a lot about your own target market.
2. Thou shalt have the right product for your target
Now you’ve nailed down your target readers’ exact needs, you can do your best to ensure that your book speaks to your audience.
As you’ll know from your market research, every genre and category has its own rules about what sells best and what readers prefer. With your research in mind, compare your book to the best sellers in your category, particularly in respect to the following points:
- Tone and overall style
- Structure and story arcs
- Character types
- Popular tropes
- Type and density of information
Think hard about the areas where your book might come up short, and develop a plan to address those problem spots. Yes, it might be a pain to revise a manuscript you’ve already completed — especially if you thought it was ready to publish and market to your key readers. But better to revise now than to regret it later, after you’ve started marketing and realized your book is missing a core element you need to appeal to your target audience.
Seriously, you don’t want to go into battle unprepared, so make sure to get your book in tip-top shape before you publish it!
3. Thou shalt learn the secrets of Amazon
Whether you sell exclusively through Amazon or opt to “sell wide” across multiple retailers, Amazon is still where the majority of your sales will happen. This means you need to understand how it works and how you can help readers find your books on its website.
In fact, knowing how to leverage Amazon’s algorithms and climb the ranks to the right level of visibility can lead Amazon to take over part of your marketing efforts for you (for free!) by automatically suggesting your books to readers in your genre. Consider most bestsellers: they have often an initial leg up on marketing, but a quick browse through Amazon shows that its internal recommendation algorithms favor such books — which means continuously high sales are less the result of frequent marketing efforts on the author or publisher’s part, but momentum carried along by Amazon.
If you can harness this same kind of momentum for your upcoming release, then your book will quite literally market itself.
4. Thou shalt establish your web presence
Anyone who enjoys your book should be able to find you on your author website, though its design depends entirely on where you want to guide your visitors. That could be a sign up box for your newsletter (ideally paired with an incentive like a free book), or exit pop-ups showing off the covers of your books, with buttons to retailer sites where people can buy them.
If you don’t already have a website, I recommend hiring a professional website developer who’s built author websites before. You can find a bunch of them on Reedsy, all vetted by our team, who’ll be able to deliver a perfect website.
If there’s no room for that in your budget, you can learn how to do it yourself, but be warned that building these skills can be time-consuming, and you could be spending that time creating a mailing list instead! A mailing list is the best way to grow and reach your fanbase, and neglecting to learn how to use it effectively will only lose you sales. You should set up and nurture your list from the very start — I talk about how to do this extensively in my book.
I bet you’re also expecting me to say that social media is a must, but I actually consider them nonessential, and sometimes higher risk than reward. While social media like Twitter can technically grow your fanbase, sites and apps can change the rules without notice and cut you off from your audience — as Facebook did a few years ago by limiting the reach of Pages. A mailing list is a safer bet because you have more control.
To me, these four fundamentals should be your priorities before you do any other marketing. Once you’ve mastered them, you can move on to more advanced techniques like advertising or price promotions. I hope you’ll pick up a free copy of my book and let me be your surefooted guide through basics and advanced marketing techniques alike.
(c) Ricardo Fayet
About How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market (Reedsy Marketing Guides Book 1)
Writing a book is hard. Marketing it can be even harder.
Marketing a book in 2021 can seem like a full-time job, what with the crazy number of things authors seem to be expected to do: social media, blog tours, advertising, price promotions, mailing lists, giveaways, you name it.
But here’s a little secret: you don’t need to do all those things to successfully set your book on the path to success. What you need is a solid plan to find the one or two tactics that will work, and start to drive sales… in a minimum amount of time. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this book.
Instead of drowning you in information or inundating you with hundreds of different tactics and strategies that eventually prove fruitless, this book will guide you through a step-by-step framework to find the ones that actually work for you and your book, so that you can start marketing more efficiently.
In particular, you’ll learn:
How to change your mindset and sell more books with less effort.;
How to write books that guarantee a lasting, profitable career;
How to get Amazon’s Kindle Store to market your book for you;
How to get thousands of readers into your mailing list before you even release the book;
How to propel your book to the top of the charts at launch; and
How to automate your marketing so that you can spend less time marketing and more time writing,
After helping over 150,000 authors crack the marketing code through a popular weekly newsletter, Reedsy’s Co-founder Ricardo Fayet is sharing everything he’s learned over the past few years in this beginner-friendly, jargon-free guide to book marketing.
Best of all, the ebook version is and will always remain 100% FREE. Get your copy now and benefit from all the experience of a seasoned marketing professional.
Order your copy online here.