Do You Have the Skills You Need to Market Your Books in Today’s Competitive Book Marketplace?
I’ve recently noticed something interesting — very few authors list marketing as one of their skills in their job titles. They often include other skills, like writing, editing, and publishing. But almost no one says they are a marketer.
And this is a real problem, because if you want to sell your books today, you need to be a marketer. That means having at least six basic marketing skills — at a minimum.
I come from a marketing background. I was a marketing writer before I was an author. So I am deeply immersed in the skills, strategies, and tactics required to let the world know my books exist, how to find my books’ target readers, and how to invite them to buy my books.
I want to take a few minutes to outline what I believe are the six core marketing skills that every author today must develop to better “take their books to market” — as a marketer would say.
While reading this list, ask yourself: Do I have these skill? If not, you’ll want to spend some time learning more about them — if you are interested in not only being an author, but also a smart book marketer.
1. Marketing Strategist.
Having a smart marketing strategy (aka, plan) is the first step of marketing anything — including a book. Being a capable strategist means being able to see the big picture, your goals, and all of the steps involved in getting from where you are now to your goals. It means putting the steps in the right order, and launching them at the right time and place. It also means having a very clear picture of the type of person who would be the most likely reader of your books, and knowing where you are most likely to find them.
There are many ways to approach book marketing, but there is only one approach that produces the greatest opportunity for results, makes marketing books easier for authors, and — once set up — makes it easier every time you publish a new book. That system includes having a blog as the center feature of your marketing program.
In this system, all of your other book marketing activities — like publicity, social media, and public speaking — are strategically designed to encourage people to visit your blog.
Once they visit, your blog’s job is two-fold: (1) to entice them with interesting blog posts, and (2) to encourage them to subscribe so they can receive your regular blog updates.
In this way, you will begin to build a list of potential book buyers — and this is the single smartest step an author can take to market their books smarter.
As such, authors need to understand how to be a great blogger, including how to come up with compelling blog post ideas, how often to publish new posts, how to tell good stories in a short space, and more. (Learn more about blogging in the free Blogging 101 Course for Authors.)
3. Book Publicist.
Every author needs to do some degree of publicity, from sending press releases about their new books, to pitching reporters with article ideas, to being interviewed by local radio stations.
To be a good publicist for your own books requires understanding what the media want, who to contact, how to contact them, how to follow up, and how to be a consummate professional.
What’s more, authors should know how to use publicity as another opportunity to invite readers to their blog.
4. Social Media User.
Love it or hate it, social media is a fact of life today. So much so, that if you aren’t on social media, authors lose a huge opportunity to connect with potential readers.
However, this is not at all about sending message to followers asking them to buy your book. That will turn more people off than encourage them. Instead, there is a smart art and science to using social media to find your readers.
To be good on social media requires knowing which social media sites are the best to find your books’ readers, understanding how to best use the media site without offending people (netiquette), knowing the most attention-getting ways to gain positive attention on the site, staying actively engaged with your tribe, and inviting them to visit your blog.
5. Content Marketer.
Much of the business world is moving to a form of marketing called Content Marketing. The idea behind it is to continually publish great content that keeps people engaged in your company or products. The best content marketers are skilled at getting attention and winning loyalty.
To be an effective content marketer you need to understand the sales cycle of the book business. Also, you need to know how to get potential readers’ attention, retain their attention, and keep them interested until they purchase your books. Assuming they like them, the full cycle of content marketing keeps them coming back for more — and telling their friends!
6. Book Marketing Manager.
Once you go to the trouble of setting up a marketing program, you need to know how to keep it going. If you stop, then it takes as much effort to re-start it again later as it did to set it up the first time. Meanwhile it takes a lot less time and frustration to keep it running in a smart way.
To manage your marketing campaigns well you need to possess determination, resilience, and insight. You need to know when something is working and when it’s not. If something isn’t working, you need to be able to make the right changes to improve your chances of success.