Today’s guest post is by J. Steve Miller, author of Sell More Books! Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors, Social Media Frenzy:Consider These Alternative Social Media Strategies and Publish a Book!
I write a lot about promotion, platform and publishing. For the most part, I write from experience. However, J. Steve Miller not only has experience in these topics, he has really done his homework–thoroughly. I’ve spent the last few days reading Social Media Frenzy:Consider These Alternative Social Media Strategies and Publish a Book!, and I’m totally impressed. If you are struggling to determine how to self-publish your book, Publish a Book! offers comparisons between the major printers/publishers. In other words, Steve has done the work for you. And in Social Media Frenzy, he offers real examples of what promotional activities have worked in different situations so you can decide if you think they will work for you. These are some of the most practical books for writers I’ve come across recently, and I highly recommend them. Read the following guest post, and you’ll get a taste of the information you’ll find in Steve’s books.
Seven Myths that Low-Profile Authors Believe
By J. Steve Miller
I’m a low-profile author, which poses challenges. If Stephen King does a book signing, everybody shows up. If I do a book signing, a few relatives show up.
Book signings and many other “Every author must do this!” strategies didn’t work for me, so I studied successful low-profile authors and carefully tracked my own sales to discover what did work for me. My conclusions were often counter-intuitive, but perhaps the results of my research, successes and failures will help you along the way.
Marketing Begins after Publication
Truth: Marketing begins with your writing.
It’s hard to market a mediocre book. So how can you know it’s great prior to publication? One of my keys lies in my under-confidence. After relentless self-editing, rather than assuming my manuscript is great, I get it into the hands of lots of readers in my target group, asking them for candid, merciless criticism. Inevitably, I make significant changes because of their input and end up with a significantly better book. I gave a chapter of my personal finance book to a middle school advanced writing class and loved their invaluable input!
I hate criticism as much as anybody, but I’d much rather hear it during the editing stage rather than read it on an Amazon review.
Reviews Come Naturally for Great Books
Truth: Reviews for low-profile authors come by author initiative.
Established, high profile writers get tons of reviews because they sell millions of copies. Unfortunately, the vast majority of readers don’t write reviews. Yet, purchasers consult reader reviews and authors can’t afford to leave them to chance.
I’m amazed at how many times I hear a low-profile author complaining about her sales and I look on her Amazon page and find only one review. I don’t care how many blog hops or radio interviews you do; if you’re pointing them to an Amazon page that indicates you’ve got a mediocre book, don’t be surprised if people fail to purchase.
For me, getting reviews starts with getting early input on my manuscript. If 30 people in my target group read my manuscript and love it, I send them a free copy once it’s in print, thanking them for their input and asking them for a review. Since they’ve already read it, it’s no big deal to write a review. That jump starts my reviews with a strong base that helps customers decide if this book is what they’re looking for.
Don’t Cheapen Your Books by Giving Them Away
Truth: You sell books by strategically giving them away.
Book marketing guru John Kremer has recommended giving away 400 to 500 copies of your books to key influencers. This was often effective, but quite expensive before ebooks. Now we can give away books for nothing. Here are some giveaway strategies that work for some books.
- Offer them to key influencers (bloggers, niche magazines, etc.) in your niche field.
- Offer them to people for review.
- Offer the first in a series free to hook readers on the series.
- Offer them free for a limited time to raise your book in online sellers’ algorithms and to jump start word of mouth. I offered one of my Kindle books free last week for two days on Amazon. Sixteen thousand people downloaded it during those two days, rocketing it to the top of several categories in the free column. For the past six days following the free campaign, it has stayed at the top of two relevant categories for PAID sales, resulting in 27 times the sales in the same period last month.
You Can’t Reach Global Markets by Selling Locally
The truth: Sell globally through marketing locally.
Last summer I spoke at the Georgia Writers Association about the topic of my book, Sell More Books: Book Marketing and Publishing for Low-profile and Debut Authors. Many attendees bought my book and according to one, the social media channels lit up immediately after the seminar.
Often we’re so enamored with finding niche audiences in “the long tail of the web” that we forget “the long arm of our neighbor.” Local folks connect globally through their social networks; so if my neighbor likes my book, she just might spread the word. I know one debut author from a small town who sold hundreds of books through a local diner. Last I heard, Hollywood was knocking on his door talking film rights.
You’ve Got to Build a Vast Following on Your Blog, Facebook and Twitter
The Truth: This won’t work for everybody.
My blog ranking sucks. I’m a passive Facebook user. Frankly, with my time spent writing books, raising a family, and caring for my invalid 106-year-old granny next door, I don’t have time to build and maintain a social media following. Instead of trying to gather a following around me, I prioritize going where people already gather.
Example: I found the top 200 personal finance blogs and offered them a free book for review and another for a giveaway. These bloggers had already gathered crowds around themselves. Their followers respect their recommendations. It’s no wonder that my sales tripled over a period of months in a way that was both cost effective and time effective.
If It Works for Others, It’ll Work for You
The Truth: Each book and author is unique, so that marketing may differ from book to book and should fit the strengths and passions of the author.
Much of what everybody said would work didn’t work for me. I carefully tracked my sales of my personal finance book, Enjoy Your Money: How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It. Being self published and available only on Amazon, I could see after each campaign which initiatives sold books and which didn’t. Mentioning the book to my large, targeted, opt-in e-letter list to thousands of educators didn’t sell any. Appearing twice on two of Atlanta’s largest news stations sold no books. My radio appearances didn’t sell any books. I did a paid press release and had meager results.
My point isn’t that these methods don’t work. They simply didn’t for me, for that book. What works wonderfully for one book and one author may fail miserably for another. Last week’s giveaway worked marvelously for one book, but not at all for another book that I gave away at the same time. Find what works for you. When you find it, pursue it with a passion.
Successful Marketing Requires Shameless Self-promotion
The Truth: Compassionate service is a great motivator.
Rather than trying to build a platform, I concentrate on helping others. Sales, and even a platform, seem to result as a byproduct of service.
Nina has this great blog which is a valuable resource to many authors. By writing a guest blog, I hopefully add value to her blog, while helping people with my ideas and exposing people to my books. That’s a win/win that makes both of us happy.
Do any of these seven tips ring true to your experience? Do you disagree with any of them? Feel free to interact below!
About the Author
J. Steve Miller is the author of Sell More Books! Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors and Social Media Frenzy:Consider These Alternative Social Media Strategies, as well as Publish a Book!, which helps authors decide on the best self-publishing company. He is president of Legacy Educational Resources, offering character and life skills resources to teachers and schools. Steve loves hanging out with his family, giving talks, caring for his 106-year-old granny, and doing weird stuff like spelunking. Connect with him at www.enjoyyourwriting.com.