Marketing is an essential part of any business, and it is no different for authors.
Writing a book is just the beginning of a long journey that requires detailed planning and a targeted marketing strategy to get it into the hands of readers.
But with the challenging risk/reward ratio of social media and the somewhat unpredictable trends of both the industry and reader interests, it can be overwhelming and exhausting for authors to keep up.
That’s why it’s essential to master your marketing without relying solely on social media or chasing fluctuating trends.
In this article, we’ll explore some practical tips to help you create a sustainable and effective marketing plan for your author business.
Why Social Media and Trend Chasing May Not Be Sustainable
Social media platforms are continually changing their algorithms, which can make it challenging for authors to reach their audience.
What worked yesterday may not work today, and this can be frustrating and extremely discouraging.
And although it’s important to anticipate the tenor of the market (particularly the desires of your target readership), chasing the latest craze can also be a time-consuming and costly affair, with no guarantee of success.
Instead, authors should focus on building a sustainable marketing strategy that is based on their strengths and the needs of their target audience.
Know Your Audience and What They Want
To create a sustainable marketing plan, authors need to understand their audience and what they want or desire.
This means conducting market research and gathering feedback from readers.
For example, one option is by using online surveys or polls (conducted through email, social media, or on your author website). Ask your readers questions about their reading habits, preferences, and opinions about certain topics.
Another way you can gather feedback from readers is by hosting focus groups or beta reader programs.
This involves gathering a small group of readers to discuss and provide feedback on your work before it’s published. This feedback can help you improve both your writing and your marketing strategies.
You can also use online tools like Google Analytics to track website traffic and engagement.
This data can provide insights into which marketing campaigns are working and which ones are not, helping you make data-driven decisions (rather than guesses) about your marketing strategies.
Gathering insights into your audience’s preferences, interests, and pain points will help you to create content that resonates with readers and build a loyal, engaged following.
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Build Your Brand and Establish Your Expertise
A large part of your focus as an author – aside from the writing, of course – is on building your brand and establishing your expertise.
This means creating a strong author persona that reflects your unique voice, style, and values.
You can use your website, podcast, email marketing, collaborations, and additional marketing materials to showcase your brand and establish your authority in your niche or genre.
This helps create a memorable impression on readers and makes them more likely to recommend your work to others.
Here are the steps to build a strong author brand:
- Define (or refine) your author brand’s core identity: Your author brand’s core identity is the foundation of your brand. It includes your unique selling proposition (USP), your target audience, and your brand values. Take some time to identify these elements and refine them to create a clear and compelling brand identity.
- Identify your desired outcomes and strategic objectives: What do you hope to achieve with your brand? Are you looking to increase book sales, build a following, or establish yourself as an authority in your field? Identifying your desired outcomes and strategic objectives will help you develop a focused and effective brand strategy.
- Position your brand and highlight your value proposition: Once you have identified your brand’s core identity and desired outcomes, it’s time to position your brand and highlight your value proposition. This involves communicating what makes your brand unique and valuable to your audience.
- Discover your brand personality, voice, and narrative: Your brand personality, voice, and narrative are the elements that bring your brand to life. They are the tone, style, and story that make your brand memorable and engaging. Discovering these elements involves a deep understanding of your audience and then crafting a brand personality and narrative that resonates with them (while still aligning with your values and goals).
- Configure the ‘architecture’ of your author brand: The architecture of your author brand refers to the clearly defined configuration of your books (genres), series, services, or any speaking or workshop options that you offer. This includes ’sub-brands’ designed to reflect multiple genres and target different pockets of readers with distinct colors, types of imagery, logos, different promises, and different positioning – but still create a consistent and cohesive brand experience for your audience.
Create High-Quality Content that Resonates with Your Audience
Creating high-quality content is the cornerstone of a sustainable marketing strategy.
Your goal is to focus on creating content that is in tune with the needs of your ideal reader and adds value to their lives.
Whether you’re writing blog posts and articles, recording podcasts, or creating videos, there are several steps you can take to ensure your content is relevant and valuable to your ideal readers. Here are some tips:
- Know your audience: Again, understanding your ideal readers’ needs and interests is crucial to creating content that resonates with them. Research your audience and gather feedback from them to ensure you’re creating content that they will find valuable.
- Choose the right format: Different types of content resonate with different audiences. Consider your audience and their preferences when deciding on the format of your content.
- Set clear goals: Determine the goals you want to achieve with your content. Do you want to educate your readers? Promote your books? Establish yourself as an expert in your field? Once you’ve identified your goals, you can tailor your content to achieve them.
- Plan your content: Creating a content calendar can help you plan out your content and ensure that it’s consistent and relevant. Consider the topics you want to cover and how they align with your brand message.
- Use storytelling techniques: Storytelling can help you engage your readers and make your content more memorable. Incorporate storytelling techniques in your content to make it more compelling.
- Provide value: Offer insights, advice, or information that your readers can use in their lives or work.
- Use SEO: Optimizing your content for search engines can help it get seen by your readers. Use relevant keywords and meta descriptions to improve your search engine ranking.
- Collaborate with other authors: Collaborating with other authors can help you expand your reach and tap into new audiences. Consider partnering with other authors on guest blog posts, podcasts, or other content.
- Promote your content: Share your content in your newsletter, on your podcast, in interviews, and on your website to ensure that it’s seen by your readers. Collaborate with other authors and encourage your audience to share your content to increase visibility.
You can also repurpose your content into different formats to reach a wider audience and use your limited marketing time more efficiently.
Leverage Email Marketing and Optimize Your Website
Email marketing is another extremely effective way for you to connect with your audience and promote your work, without having to rely on the benevolence of the social media gods to get the word out.
You can use email marketing to share exclusive content, promotions, and news about your work.
Here are 10 things that you can share in your newsletter or in an email marketing campaign to engage (and retain) your readers:
- Exclusive content: Offer your readers a sneak peek of your upcoming book or share a deleted scene from one of your existing books. This can keep them interested and excited about your work.
- Promotions: Provide a discount code or a special offer for your books or merchandise. This could be anything from a signed copy of your book to a limited-edition merchandise item.
- News and updates: Keep your readers informed about your writing progress, book release dates, and any upcoming events that you’ll be attending or hosting.
- Behind-the-scenes insights: Share some insights into your writing process, what inspired you to write your book, or how you created your characters. This can help your readers feel more connected to you and your work.
- Personal anecdotes: Share a personal story or experience that relates to your writing or your book. Help your readers get to know you better and feel more invested in your work.
- Fan feedback: Share some of the positive feedback and reviews that your book has received. This can help build your credibility and encourage others to read your work.
- Writing tips: Share some of your writing tips or techniques that have helped you in your writing journey. This can also be helpful to aspiring writers, some of whom may fit your target readership.
- Book recommendations: Share some of the books that have inspired you or that you’ve enjoyed reading recently. Help your readers discover new authors and books they may like.
- Author interviews: Conduct interviews with other authors or industry professionals and share them with your readers. This can expand your readership and provide valuable insights for your readers.
- Community engagement: Encourage your readers to share their own stories, opinions, and feedback with you and with each other. Create a sense of community by fostering a deeper connection with your readers.
And do optimize your website to make it easy for readers to find and purchase your books – use clear calls-to-action, provide book descriptions, and include links to online retailers.
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Your author website is one of your most important marketing tools. It’s where your readers can learn about your books, connect with you, and purchase your work.
So make it easy for them!
Here are a few tips to optimize your author website:
- Make sure the website is easy to navigate: A website that is easy to navigate is essential for keeping readers on the page. Use clear menus and navigation bars to make it dead simple for visitors to find what they are looking for.
- Create an author bio page: An author bio page is a great way to introduce readers to you and your work, and give them some background information. This page can include your background, writing process, interests and goals, and any awards or accolades you’ve received.
- Include a blog: A blog is a great way to keep readers engaged and up-to-date on your latest news and events. It’s also a great way to share writing tips and advice, as well as personal anecdotes and experiences.
- Offer a newsletter subscription: A newsletter is one of the best ways to stay connected with your readers and keep them informed about new releases, promotions, and events. Make sure to include a subscription form on your website to make it easy for readers to sign up.
- Use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques: SEO is important for helping your readers find your website through search engines like Google. Use relevant keywords in your website content, titles, and meta descriptions to help improve visibility in search results.
- Include book reviews and testimonials: Book reviews and testimonials are a great way to build trust with readers and convince them to purchase your work. Include positive reviews and testimonials on your website to showcase your writing and storytelling abilities.
- Ensure the website is mobile-friendly: With more and more people browsing the internet on their mobile devices, it’s important to have a website that is optimized for mobile. This means it should be easy to read and navigate on a smaller screen.
- Include high-quality images: Images are a great way to make a website more visually appealing. Use high-quality images of book covers and headshots, as well as on-brand images and graphics to grab your reader’s attention.
Network with Other Authors and Industry Professionals
Love it or hate it, networking is necessary for your success in the publishing industry.
So look for ways to rub elbows with other authors, publishers, editors, and literary agents. Collaborations can include joint book promotions, guest blog posts, or podcast interviews.
This can help you build relationships, learn from others’ experiences, and gain valuable insights into the industry.
Here are some additional tips for building connections and relationships with other authors and industry professionals:
- Attend writing conferences and events: Attending writing conferences and events (either virtual or in real life) is a good way to meet other authors and industry professionals. Take advantage of opportunities to mingle and introduce yourself to other attendees.
- Join writing organizations: This is a fun way to connect with other authors and industry professionals who share your interests. Many organizations offer networking events, workshops, and online forums.
- Reach out for collaborations: Collaborating with other authors and industry professionals can help expand your network and allow you to reach new audiences. Reach out to propose collaborative projects like co-writing or cross-promotion.
Remember, networking and building relationships takes time and effort. Be patient, persistent, and professional, and always be willing to offer value and support to others in your network.
Consider Paid Advertising
While a somewhat more advanced option, paid advertising can be an effective way for authors to reach a wider audience and promote their work.
Authors can choose to “pay-to-play” on social media platforms, or leverage alternative platforms instead.
With platforms like Amazon Ads, BookBub, and Facebook Ads, you can target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
Amazon Ads allows you to create targeted ads for your books, which appear in search results and on product detail pages. You can target specific keywords, interests, and even specific Amazon product pages.
Amazon Ads operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
BookBub is a popular book discovery platform that offers you the opportunity to promote your books to a large audience.
You can create targeted ads for your books based on genre, author, and more. BookBub also offers a Featured Deals program, where you can submit your books for a discounted promotion to BookBub’s subscribers.
Facebook (Meta) Ads allows you to create targeted ads for your books based on a variety of factors, including interests, demographics, behaviors, and more.
Facebook Ads also operates on a PPC model, and you can choose from a variety of ad formats, including image ads, video ads, and carousel ads.
When creating paid ads, it’s important for you to have a clear understanding of your target audience and to craft ads that will appeal to that audience.
The ad copy should be engaging and clearly communicate your book’s value proposition. It’s also important to monitor ad performance and adjust campaigns as needed to optimize for better results.
If not, ads can be a costly venture.
Overall, paid advertising can be a powerful tool for you to reach a wider audience and promote your work, but it’s important to approach it strategically and with a clear understanding of your target audience and advertising platforms.
Track and Measure Your Results
Tracking and measuring the results of your marketing efforts is essential to improving your strategy and achieving your goals.
Use analytics tools to track your website traffic, email open rates, and book sales.
This will help you identify what’s working and what’s not so that you can adjust and fine-tune your strategy accordingly.
Mastering your marketing requires you to develop a sustainable and effective strategy that’s based on your strengths and your ideal audience.
By knowing and understanding your audience, building your author brand, creating high-quality content, and leveraging email marketing and networking, you can create a successful and sustainable marketing plan that doesn’t rely solely on social media or trend-chasing… leaving you more time to write.
1. Is social media still important for authors’ marketing?
Social media can still be important for authors’ marketing, but it shouldn’t be the only focus. Authors should focus on building a sustainable marketing strategy that includes various channels to reach their audience.
2. How often should authors send emails to their subscribers?
Authors should send emails to their subscribers regularly, but not too often that it becomes spammy. A weekly or monthly email newsletter is a good frequency to aim for.
3. How can authors network with other industry professionals?
Authors can network with other industry professionals by attending conferences, joining writing groups, participating in online forums, and reaching out to others in their genre or topic area.
4. Should authors focus on one marketing strategy or multiple strategies?
Authors should focus on multiple marketing strategies to reach a broader audience and increase their chances of success. A well-rounded marketing plan should include various channels and tactics.
5. How can authors measure the success of their marketing efforts?
Authors can measure the success of their marketing efforts by tracking their website traffic, email open rates, and book sales. This helps authors identify what’s working and what’s not, and adjust their strategy accordingly.
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