What is marketing? According to the American Marketing Association, it is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
This definition is more my speed, from Google: “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
Now that we have an idea what marketing is, I want to share a few tips with you. This list is by no means all-encompassing, but it’s meant to share ideas that I’ve learned over the years—either through experience or by observing other writers. Hopefully, you’ll find one or two helpful nuggets that you can use in your own writing career.
#1 Get the next book out!
None of this matters if you’re not releasing books! The best way to see a bump in sales and find new readers is to put out another book. But you knew that already, right? Readers want to read your books, so if other marketing items are keeping you so busy you can’t write, guess what? Stop, take a break—do whatever you need to do to get your butt in the chair so you can get the next book out. You can’t sell what you don’t have.
#2 Test and experiment because not everyone’s results will be the same.
Do what’s right for you. Measure your results, and if an idea doesn’t work, try something else. The genre we write in, frequency of promotions, and even our individual personalities can all affect our marketing results.
#3 Take good care of your loyal fans.
I can’t stress this enough. Once you have followers or have built up your distribution list, take care of these readers. Have special giveaways just for them. Those promotional items you created (T-shirts, etc.), make sure your loyal fans can get those. I often have contests with prizes that only my Facebook followers or newsletter subscribers can win. They’re loyal to me, so I want to take care of them and make sure they know I appreciate them.
Other ideas: autographed copies of your books, ebooks, gift cards, tote bags, key chains, romance trading cards. They should also be the first to know what’s going on with you and your writing. Let them see your book cover first, let them read the sneak peaks and excerpts first. Give them background on the characters or why you wrote a particular story. Share a deleted scene. There are a lot of different things you can do just for your followers.
#4 Build up your distribution list and followers.
This is extremely important. For those of you who hate marketing, this is one way to help you cut your marketing/promotion time. Having a loyal base of readers who’ll read your books, review, and/or tell others about you is essential because it means you can spend more time writing. The more followers you have, the easier it will be to spread the word about your new releases.
Build your list through guest blogging, blog hops, giveaways of books, contests, etc. Create serial stories on your blog. This is a good idea if you don’t like blogging. The stories could be spinoffs of another story or brand new tales—it’s all up to you and your imagination.
#5 Cross-promote with other authors.
Ideas: Promote each other’s books on Facebook and Twitter. Have guests on your blog, guest blog at other author’s websites, do an anthology (could get complicated because of royalty disbursements), or simply celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
#6 Set aside money for marketing/promotions.
I suggest starting with a percentage of your royalties and reinvesting that money back into yourself with marketing/promo. Choose a level that’s comfortable for you: 5%, 10%, whatever. Ads help with visibility but don’t necessarily translate into a surge in sales—so don’t have unrealistic expectations unless you’re willing to pay big bucks to some of the reader distribution lists like BookBub.
You could also offer giveaways such as gift cards, bookmarks (yes, I recommend them even if all you write are ebooks because readers love them and you can use them as a “business card”), T-shirts, mugs, etc. I use gotprint.com for bookmarks and vistaprint.com for promo items.
You can also promote on niche blogs, which is where the avid readers in your subgenre hang out. Write paranormal? Promote at a paranormal blog. Write new adult? Find the popular new adult blogs and promote there. Write books with diverse heroes and heroines—you guessed it, promote at blogs that promote diverse characters—like Romance Novels in Color!
#7 Have wide distribution of your books.
Distribution is just as (if not more) important than advertising because it helps with discoverability. The more places you place your books, the more readers can stumble across them and fall in love with your writing. Where should you be? At a minimum, I suggest Amazon, B&N, Kobo. The interfaces are easy to use.
I also recommend All Romance Ebooks for romance authors, particularly if you write erotica or in a niche genre, such as interracial, same sex, or BDSM. iBooks is also another good distribution channel. You can’t upload direct unless you have a Mac, have Mac in Cloud, or pay an upload service, but your books should be there because iBooks is in over 100 countries. Most recently, I’ve added my books to Google Play and will soon be on Tolino, a German distributor, because many Germans read in English.
#8 Choose a few social media outlets that you enjoy and concentrate on those.
Don’t try to do everything or you risk burning out. Not only that, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be effective in all of them if you’re spread thin.
#9 Be friendly.
I always respond to readers, even if it’s only to click LIKE on a comment. If I don’t respond, chances are I didn’t see it. We should respond to emails, talk to readers on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comment section of our blogs.
That’s it! I hope you found something of value in this list.
Authors, do you have any tips you’d like to add to the list?
Readers, do you have any suggestions that will improve our marketability and get us on your to-be-read list? We’re listening.
Delaney Diamond writes sweet, sensual, passionate romance novels and is the site manager of Romance Novels in Color. When she’s not reading or writing she’s trying out new recipes or traveling to an interesting locale. Find free reads and the first chapter of all her books at www.delaneydiamond.com.