The job of selling books begins the moment you decide you want to become an author. You need to build an author platform—a built-in readership for your books—long before your book is published. Platforms are created with the promotion of aspiring author, published author, published books, and forthcoming books. And you are the one who will do most of the construction work. Today, I’m honored to have a guest blog post from John Kremer, long-time leading expert on book marketing and promotion and author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. He’s culled his best and most up-to-date advice on how to sell books into the following list of promotional tools for your tool box. NA
The key change-maker in today’s world of marketing books is the Internet. It allows any book author to reach a worldwide audience at very little cost—as well as very targeted audiences, also at very low cost. If the Internet did not exist today, the world of self-publishing would be about a tenth of the size it is today (with, I would guess, close to a million new books produced each year).
These top 10 ways to sell more books are not in any particular order of priority. But the first five tips involve marketing and promoting your book via the Internet. The final five tips primarily involve marketing and promoting your book in the real world.
1. Comment on Top-Rated, Highly-Targeted Blogs
Your first priority should be to establish relationships with top-rated, high-traffic blogs and websites that target your topic and/or your audience.
One of the best ways to do that is to comment on the blog posts and articles featured on your target blogs or websites. If you write smart useful comments, the blogger or website owner will notice—and, just as important, so will that blogger’s or website’s readers.
If you leave good comments often enough, there’s a good chance the blogger or website will invite you to become a regular commentator, guest poster, or columnist.
This strategy requires that you make a list of 20 to 30 such blogs and websites and focus on commenting on 3 to 5 of those blogs or websites every day. You must have on-going consistent interaction with your targeted blogs and websites.
2. Create a Viral Video
I’m not talking about the bland book trailers many authors are creating and posting. I’m talking about videos that are actually watched and shared with others.
There are three ways to create viral videos—or, at least, to get more views for your videos:
- Piggyback off videos that have already gone viral (or are in the process of going viral).
- Create videos like the one showcased at blueribbonmovie.com—a combination of great words, images, and music or spoken words.
- Create a YouTube channel and post new videos two to three times a week. The goal is to build an audience for your videos over time by consistently producing new videos two to regularly.
Study the videos you like, especially the ones that get tons of views. Model those when creating your own videos.
Be sure to include your website URL (for example, http://www.bookmarket.com) at the beginning of your video description on YouTube. For the URL to be clickable within the description, you must include the beginning http://www (just as I did in the example above). Skip any of those first ten characters and your link will not be clickable.
3. Write a Q&A Column
Offer to write a Q&A column for a high-traffic website targeting your audience. You might target a magazine website for this column (because it might also lead to a column in the magazine itself).
Connect with the website via its Facebook page, Twitter page, YouTube channel, Pinterest boards, LinkedIn profile, blog, or forum. Begin the relationship there, and then build it into a real relationship where they will welcome further input from you—and suggestions on new columns.
The value of a Q&A column is that it allows you to be featured on the home page of a high-traffic website on a regular basis. The column almost writes itself once you start getting an audience. Readers send you questions, and you answer them with succinct, but useful answers.
4. Offer Free Ebooks
If you want to build up an audience for all your work and jumpstart word of mouth, give away your book as an ebook (or sell it for 99 cents) as a Kindle ebook.
Give away the ebook as a PDF or Word document on your website (but capture the requester’s email to build your email list).
More important, though, is to give away your ebook on high-traffic, highly targeted websites (targeted to your topic or audience).
You might be seeing a pattern in my advice so far.
5. Do a SuperStar Blog Tour.
Or a Mega Blog Tour. Or a Blogpalooza. I’m not talking about the old-style humdrum virtual book tour of 15 or 20 blogs. I’m talking about an event blog tour that creates Internet buzz on a major scale. Event blog tours can build brands, create incredible website traffic, and sell tons of books.
The neat thing is that effective event blog tours take less time to carry out than the traditional Amazon Bestseller Campaign—and are almost always more effective in selling books, building a brand, and driving traffic.
If you want to know more about event blog tours, check out this recording of me speaking about the value and method of carrying out an effective impact blog tour: http://www.bookmarket.com/blog-tour-palooza.htm.
Speaking builds a word-of-mouth army better than anything else. Speak locally—at garden clubs, libraries, bookstores, Rotary clubs, poetry nights, schools, hospitals, story swaps, book club meetings, etc. Then expand out to a wider area, to nearby cities, to nearby states. Eventually, expand out to an even wider audience.
When someone hears you speak, they become a bigger fan than if they had just read your book. If they like you when they hear you speak, they will tell ten times more people than by just reading your book.
Speaking is especially effective for spirituality, mind/body/health, self-help, romance and relationships, business, how-to, and religious titles (as well as memoirs and children’s books). Ninety-five percent of the New York Times bestsellers in these categories gained a lot of their sales momentum from the authors speaking over and over again.
7. Book Yourself on National TV.
TV is still the largest mass market media. It reaches more people than any other media—and with more impact. It’s worth spending the time contacting the ten or twenty news and talk shows that reach your audience.
For most national TV shows, you can get the contact information in one of three ways:
- from their websites
- by checking the ending credits of the show
- via your network of friends and fellow authors
To book an appearance on a major national TV show, you have to tie your book, topic, or cause into a current news or celebrity event.
Have a book on relationships? Tie it into the latest celebrity wedding, breakup, or new relationship.
Have a book on business? Tie it into the Facebook IPO, the G8 summit, or the J P Morgan Chase fiasco.
Your appearance on one major TV show will not only expose you to millions of viewers, but it also opens the door to dozens and sometimes hundreds of other media: newspapers, magazines, radio, more TV shows, etc.
8. Hook Up with Reading Groups.
This tip is especially valuable for novels and memoirs – since those are the kinds of books that most local reading groups read and discuss. But there are now book clubs on cookbooks, relationship books, and other topics as well.
Start by asking your local bookseller for local reading groups that read books like yours. Most reading groups are centered around fiction (novels and short stories), but some also focus on poetry, self-help, relationships, social issues, woman’s issues, travel, etc.
When you find a few local reading groups, offer to answer questions if they choose your book. Tell them you will come to their meeting and answer questions live. For more distant reading groups, offer to answer questions via a phone call.
Once you’ve established relationships with some local reading groups, you might want to offer the same live Q&A sessions to bookstores across the country. You can email almost 700 indie bookstores using the Top 700 Independent Bookstores data files (available via http://www.bookmarket.com/top700.htm).
Ask the booksellers to suggest local reading groups which might be interested in your particular book. At the same time, ask them for the name, email address, and phone number of the leader of the group. Then contact those leaders with your offer.
Besides live Q&A sessions, you could offer these reading groups a reading guide to your book, a list of questions to consider, background info on you or the book (character bios), and other material that would encourage them to read your book. You can send these out as short ebooks or offer web pages with this info.
When you have a few successful events with book groups, ask the leader or members for testimonials telling how much they enjoyed the interaction with you. Use those testimonials to help you book more reading group events.
9. Work with Bookstores to Sell Your Book.
Booksellers can make an incredible difference in helping you sell your book. One bookseller sold over 1,500 copies of a mid-list novel that she fell in love with. She hand sold them to everyone who came into the store and asked for a reading recommendation.
When setting up bookstore appearances, don’t just sign up for a book signing. Do a reading from your novel, or do a short 20-minute lecture on the subject of your book.
With novels, start reading somewhere in the middle (with perhaps a brief intro to that section of the novel) and end at a cliffhanging point in the story.
10. Build an Author Platform.
Begin today to dominate the Internet for your name, book title, and book subject. Build your platform so that no one can miss you when they seek out you, your book, or your topic via the Internet.
The Internet is the most significant marketing and promoting tool ever invented for getting the word out about a new book, product, service, or cause. You can reach people around the world at very low cost via the Internet. Start by dominating the social networks.
For example, if you Google my name, you’ll find I dominate the first three pages of Google search. Generally, 25 to 30 of the first 30 listings are pointing to my websites, social network pages, interviews, blog posts, etc.
While the name John Kremer isn’t as competitive as Judy Smith or Gregory Jones or many other names, I am competing against a vice president of marketing at Yahoo, a German psychologist who has written several books, a championship bass fisherman, several high school and college athletes, and at least 50 other John Kremers around the world. And 25 of the top 30 Google listings still point to me.
It really doesn’t matter if you dominate the world or you simply own a small niche. Both can get you incredible name recognition, book sales, website traffic, and a growing group of fans.
Note: You can’t do all ten of the above promotional activities at one time. You simply wouldn’t do them well if you tried. Focus on 2 to 4 of the activities in the beginning. Then as you master some of them (and they don’t require as much time to master and carry out), you could add another promotional activity.
The key to success in any activity is to focus on it. If you try to do too many things at once, you won’t do any of them well—and so they will not produce the results you want.
Start small, and grow big.
Start smart, and move quickly.
Start alone, but work to create real relationships with key influencers. Then build your tribe. Soon, your tribe will take over and start promoting everything you do. That’s when you know that you’ve arrived.
About the Author
John Kremer is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books as well as webmaster at www.BookMarket.com, www.BookMarketingBestsellers.com, and www.InfographicADay.com. Email questions to JohnKremer@BookMarket.com. And like me at www.facebook.com/thejohnkremer.
Photo Courtesy: Free Digital Photos.net