Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Best Book Marketing Strategies from Debut Authors

In 2018, the Debut Authors were asked,

"What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?"

Here's what they said:

In terms of my book, I’d have to say it was the ingenious decision of someone at Tor to attach tiny little keys to the WACR bookmarks. EVERYONE WANTS A TINY LITTLE KEY. People who would never otherwise notice those bookmarks just have to have one because of those keys. The moment when they realise that there are multiple different key designs is often rather beautiful.
In terms of all books, I’m tempted to say that Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE is being marketed stupendously well by reality. Otherwise, I’ve noticed that some of the best marketing comes from authors being themselves. My friend Debbie Ohi, who writes and illustrates picture books, is a fount of boundless creativity, which she pours out onto the Internet. People want to read her books because they know that when they do, they’ll get something as unexpected as one of her broken crayon drawings (in which she breaks a crayon and draws something emerging from the break) or her coffee-stain illustrations (in which an oddly shaped coffee stain provides the base shape of an imaginative drawing). Here she is finding the Grinch in a halved green pepper:

The best strategy will depend on your book and its target audience. Social media is an inexpensive method to get a massive global reach. On the flip side though, you’re competing with a lot of eyeballs and attention spans spread across a lot of other marketers doing the same.

If your novel deals with topical issues, then you have a much better chance of landing an interview with mainstream media as part of their coverage. That’s the route I’ll be taking in the new year. As powerful as social media is becoming, I still think people are more likely to make a purchase decision hearing about an author on mainstream media than they are through social media. It helps establish an extra trust factor.

Right now I'm really enjoying Instagram. I'm learning how to optimally share "stories" as well as how to post the most intriguing pictures. I am by no means a photographer, but I love trying to use lighting and design to put my book, and others, into a visually pleasing set-up.

Well, here's my two cents, and since my book isn't out yet, I can't really speak to its efficacy. One of my husband's favorite phrases is "Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art" (pretty sure Constantin Stanislavski first said those words) and I think that sums up what little marketing philosophy I have. The truth is that I have no control over the market or how readers are going to respond to anything I write. The only thing I can do is write the best book of which I'm capable. So, I plan to write the next book and the next, developing my craft, and focusing on the art rather than myself in the art. In short, I'm just going to be the most genuine person I know how to be and write the best book I can write, and hope that leads to book sales in a roundabout way.

I learned that the author needs to contribute to the marketing process, even if s/he has a traditional publisher and a publicist. Authors don’t always get book tours, and it’s the nature of the beast for the publisher to sort of let you flutter to the ground after launch, as they have a publishing schedule with more new releases coming down the pike and you won’t always be the flavor of the month. I don’t know anything about marketing, but I care about my readers, and I care about connecting with them. I can tell when an author doesn’t care about me, but instead simply wants me to buy their book. It always feels a little forced and I don’t like that. I hope to always put my relationship with my readers before the sales of my book.

Live events. I have seen more growth in my email list, getting interviews, exposure, etc just from the few events I’ve experienced this year. I’ve networked with some amazing people and learned more from other authors than I feel I could online. It’s what pushed me into a movement of “Budgeting Social Media; Invest in Live Events”. Our readers are not behind a laptop, they’re out there working at Cracker Barrel, attending All-con, going to Book Festivals and asking questions at libraries. Don’t get me wrong. Social media is amazing for keeping in contact but it should never be used as a primary marketing tool. Reaching out and touching, even in email is worth more than just posting Amazon links on Facebook.

My publishers reached out to librarians; I reached out to parent and teacher bloggers, as well as child psychologists and those who do podcasts. One of the realities of publishing is that authors have to make themselves much more visible. We have to do our own homework to get interviews and articles published. This takes a lot of hours but is well worth it.

I have been so incredibly lucky to have a marketing team at Berkley that has worked overtime to get my little book on the radar. I'm not even sure how they work their magic but I've been so happy to have them on my team. I really do think that talking to as many people as possible about your book, in person, in media, on social media is the best way to spread the word. Opportunities like this to talk about my book are wonderful ways to get readers interested which leads to them reading it which hopefully leads to them recommending it to others which hopefully makes the cycle continue!

We’ve had a lot of success by engaging directly with fans, either on social media or at conventions and other events. Also, our publisher, 1984 Publishing, specializes in beautifully produced art books, and they turned Ghoulish into an event. For instance, they released two special 3D editions that came with branded 3D glasses and a limited edition 3D art print. (Both of those editions sold out!)

I believe social media has changed the landscape of book marketing. The best book marketing campaigns I have seen make aggressive and skillful use of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

I’m still working on this.

Doing interviews about my latest release. It turns out that readers love to know more about the person behind the book.

I haven't found that yet. I'll let you know when I do though.

Infiltrate the White House, get the scoop, and then tell all? That wasn’t possible for this book, though. I think doing more of a pre-pub push to get preorders would be a good idea. I didn’t do that, but I think it makes sense.

I think word-of-mouth is very effective and I’ve always enjoyed book trailers, although I have no idea how well they work as a marketing strategy.

Most of my pre-orders came through people I connected with on Twitter.

I have got so much to learn about book marketing! I've found this to be one of the most challenging aspects of being an author, especially since I'm quite introverted and hate self-promotion. As a result, I don't think I've found a strategy that works yet, but I am experimenting with a few things. The most recent experiment is with Amazon ads. I don't plan on seriously advertising until I have at least three books in my series published and can leverage read-through from the first book. But I've been having fun playing around with marketing on Amazon in a limited way (less than five dollars invested) and have even sold a few books as a result.

I’m really enjoying focusing on Podcasts. They provide a great connection to very specific audiences.

I’m still figuring that out. My novel came out in June of 2018, and I just released another one on September 18. I’m still in the learning phase with marketing, but from what everyone has told me, generating content is the best thing you can do to improve your sales. Keep the books coming. Writing and publishing is a long game. Nothing happens quickly, so the key is to get yourself out there. Learn about marketing strategies and try different things.

Word of mouth is the best marketing strategy I know of. This includes using social media to get the word out there. Writing isn't a get rich quick business, and spreading the word by talking to random strangers, friends, family, doing interviews, and advertising on various social media sites, is the most affordable marketing tool. Once the money starts rolling in, other methods will help advance your progress.

The best book marketing strategy I’m finding is first actually writing a book and being super excited about the story. Everything stems from that excitement. After that, social media has been simply awesome to translate that excitement into sales. Then when parents are happy their kids love the novel, they’ll post about it, which encourages other kids to read it. So I would say anyway you can, promote your book via social media with excitement and true testimonies and you’ll find success.

I am still very new to the marketing aspect of this. I think I got very good exposure by doing give-aways on both blogs and Goodreads – whether that will translate into sales will have to be seen.

Bookstagramming rocks with its visual artistry evoking the book’s setting or the pleasure of reading. Contests—especially Rafflecopter-type ones whose prizes are the book plus a few cool, related items in exchange for a share+follow—often win me over because, seriously, I could always use a new [fill in the blank — who cares, it’s free AND new!].

Bookstore image from Unsplash

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