became a writer because I wanted . . . well
. . . to write. But after five years in this business, I’ve learned
that writers aren’t just writers. They are creators, editors, designers
and, yes, even marketers. Most publishing houses require authors to
actively participate in getting the word out about their new releases.
Due to my background in sales, I enjoy many aspects of publicity and
marketing, but I still get overwhelmed with the time it can take out of
every day. Publicity timelines can be confusing. Communicating with
media can be intense. Crafting that perfect ad message can be
exhausting. Frankly, I’d rather be writing.
But the truth is this: When you
make the decision to seriously
pursue writing with the intent to be published, you also need to commit
to marketing your published book. Building relationships with readers
is the perfect way to do so, and with the onset of social and
professional networking outlets—like Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, and
Shoutlife—you can start interacting with potential readers right away.
Interaction is key.
Relationships with your readers are essential.
I’m going to say that again. It’s vital that you connect with your
readers, and not just as an author but as a person. Get to know them
when you can, and allow them a glimpse into your world as well.
The most important thing to
remember when communicating with your audience is it’s not
all about you. It’s about your readers, your fans, your friends. What
need to grow and succeed? What can you share—beyond just constant
updates about your books and writing—to encourage, support, and show
them you care about them as people not just as prospective buyers?
In each Internet venue you use,
focus on a target audience and
communicate with that group. If your writing deals with marriage and
family issues, share articles and information related to those areas.
Maybe you write historical romance—share interesting historical facts,
interspersed with an occasional romantic idea your reader might use.
Find what works for your audience and build a reader base that will
care about you as a person. When that happens, they’ll also care about
your books, you’ll grow a dedicated fan base, and they’ll want to help
you spread the word.
One of the best marketing tricks
I’ve learned is to embrace the
power of audience evangelism. Positive reader reviews posted with
online retailers—such as Amazon—will boost sales and name recognition.
Cataloging more than eight
million books ranked according to
category, Amazon can seem like a scary place; but it’s really not so
bad. Your book could be broken down, for example: books—religious;
historical; romance. If your book is ranked at number 500,000, that
means there are 499,999 books selling better than yours in that
particular time period . . . but it’s also selling better than
7,500,000 other books. Let’s say it’s ranked number 20,000 in overall
books; but in the romance category of historical religion books, it
might be as low as number 35. Anyone looking at Amazon’s fifty
top-selling historical romance (Christian fiction) books will see
yours. Not bad, huh?
So, how do we move up (er, down)
in the ranking faster? Reader
reviews! Preferably ones by prominent Amazon reviewers. Many of these
people have a following—readers who consistently read their reviews and
trust them. It’s not always easy to convince a reviewer to read your
book. Here’s one suggestion.
the list of the top five hundred to one
thousand reviewers and find those who provide contact info. Then target
the reviewers interested in your genre. If you write Christian romance,
there’s no sense in sending an inquiry to someone who consistently
reviews witchcraft, horror, or other hardcore books. Prepare a
professional, courteous e-mail. Ask the reviewer if he or she would
consider reading your book if you send a complimentary, signed copy. Do
not insist on a review. Pushy authors will be ignored, or very possibly
get a poor review. Above all, be courteous. Here’s a sample:
I got your contact information from your recent Amazon review of [name
a book that’s similar to what you write—it shows the reviewer you have
a logical reason for picking him and have actually read some of his
reviews] and thought you might be interested in my inspirational novel
releasing soon, Finding Jeena, the follow-up to The
I’d love to send you a copy, and if you’re interested, I’d be grateful
if you decide to post a review. I’ll send you a brief summary if you’d
like, and if you provide your mailing address, I’ll drop a copy in the
mail. Of course, there’s no obligation.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sure, I’d rather be writing. And
maybe you would, too. But a little
online marketing can go a long way. Try to find your niche, your target
audience, and remember that it’s about their needs not your desire to
sell yet another book. See your readers as real people not sales
numbers, and interact with them on a personal level. The Internet
allows us to stay home and still get acquainted with our readers, so
get past your fear of the electronic age and get excited about the
multiple opportunities available with just the click of your mouse!