I have been busy, busy, busy; networking, connecting, sharing, and building my platform. One of the things I am running across are LOTS of authors, old and new, who are feeling like they don't know what to do to market their books. When engaging in these discussions, I always start with the traditional information "Have you built a platform?"
And I can relate to their pain. It doesn't matter how many people you friend on Facebook, follow on Twitter, or network with on LinkedIn, Google +, Yelp, Tumbler, Youtube, Stage 32, and all the other sites out there! That is not what gets you sales. (Ok, not completely true, especially as you become more established as a writer.) You can have a website, but unless somebody already knows who you are, they probably won't view it. (Unless, of course, you share a name with some pretty famous people, such as John Locke!)
The problem with trying to sell books on social networking sites is that people don't go to these places to buy books. They go to these places to meet people. If all you do is pitch your books (particularly in a straight out manner such as "Royal Prince Vince on sale, only $8.99) then people will not listen or pay any attention to you after awhile (especially if you get really spammy about it, posting 100 time a day! that is a good way to get un-followed.)
I am going to link the crap out of you real quick. These are all articles and other resources that I have been abusing the crap out of to figure out how to market my books. Some of them, you have probably already looked at yourself, but some of them may be new. Some may share information you have already gotten from someone else, and a lot of them overlap one another (I know).
Ok, I have about 100 more links to other resources that I use, am working my way to using, and still trying determine how effective they will be. The point is, there are tons of people out there giving marketing advice (FOR FREE) Yes, I know, a lot of these guys are asking you to pay for additional services... you know why? Because you get what you pay for. They are giving you vague tips, common sense information, stuff that they would have asked you to do to get them started on the paid product anyway. (I say this because that is what I would expect them to do... I have never actually used any of them, so maybe I'm wrong. If I were doing what they do, I would do it that way!)
Does this mean their advice is useless? By itself, it is not as effective as it could be. But without somewhere to start, you will have nowhere to go. So, read over all of these blogs, and find ways to make it work for you!
For example, Duolit tells you how to put together a media kit for quick reference. Do this. Submit to every local paper, magazine, news station you can find. You know what happened when I did that. Nothing. A week's worth of work, for nothing. After all, why would the newspaper care that I had published a book? Even my college paper did not publish that their alumni had published a book. It was depressing. But don't throw out your media kit, find creative ways to get their attention. I did a reading for a neighborhood program in my town, I let the press know. I did readings for my local schools... and would have let the press know, but the schools would not let me. Find community events to participate in and let the press know (after you get permission from the event coordinators, of course). Sometimes they will show, most of the time they will not. But it is still worth the extra time. Each time you let them know, send that announcement from your media kit!
Writing World gives you a list of people who do book reviews for different genres. Great place to hit up, and most of them will do the review for the cost of the book, but a lot are generous enough to accept PDF copies (sent through e-mail, it is FREE!!) Are you on Twitter? Start following book reviewers that review books in your genre, share their stuff when you find it insightful. You are building a relationship with them. When you approach them to ask if they would review your book, they'll be more likely to say yes, accept a PDF, AND give you a positive review. After all, they like you for sharing their work! (WARNING: If your book is poorly edited, poorly executed and crap, no amount of niceness will get you a good review. But your kindness might get you bumped up a star in the ratings.)
Get involved in your local community. Talk to your local library, see if you can get the distributor to buy a couple of copies, but if you can't then offer to donate some. Then ask them if maybe you could also do a reading. It works. You just put your book into the hands of everyone in your community. I know that a lot of the books that I checked out from the library and really enjoyed, I hunted down to buy! A lot of people do. At the very least, they will probably tell someone else that they read it and that person might buy it!
Look at these blogs as if you were reading the back of a book. They'r just a teaser. You can pay for the service, or get creative (we are creatives after all!) and find a new angle in which you can plug in their advice!
Here is one "vague tip" to keep in mind when finding creative ways to try and market your books for free. Reciprocity is the key. If it isn't costing you some time and maybe even a little money, then it isn't going to do you much good.
Another thing to keep in mind (a crappy statistic I learned in college) which might help you keep trudging forward. Marketing, at best, is only effective 1/4 of the time. That means that when you go to an event, if you are lucky 1/4 of the people there will actually buy your book. When you tweet to 200 followers, if you are SUPER lucky only 1/4 will be motivated to buy your book. (I'll explain this oddity in a later post that I will devote to twitter.)
So, yeah, marketing is tough. But we gotta do it. I think I will address marketing tips in the next couple of posts, because it seems to be such a difficult topic that really deserves more time than this. If there are any marketing tips you would like to share, or if you have any specific questions about marketing, feel free to let me know in the comments below.