Monday, October 2, 2017

Marketing Series: You've Got Questions

We asked FB and Twitter friends to send us questions about marketing so we could provide some answers. Questions and answers are below.

Why do authors have to do the marketing? Why don't publishers do it for them? ~ from Phee Paradise and Grace Brooks

Marketing is a cost that larger publishers once absorbed and recouped with book sales, but now is mostly obsolete. If an author has a huge platform (celebrity or public figure status), the publisher will likely send the author on tour or pay for an advertising campaign, but for the most part, the author is on their own when it comes to marketing, regardless of whether they choose the traditional publishing route, a subsidy press, or self-publishing.

I want to publish more children's books in the future...when you have more than one book that you are selling, do you need to market each book separately or can you lump them together when attending an event or with the online presence (in my case facebook)? ~ From Julie Landon, author of The Little Voice

Great question, Julie. If the books are in the same genre, there's no need to separate marketing. At times, you may want to focus on your newest book, but you can always include the others when designing marketing materials like bookmarks, flyers, posters, etc. With social media, blogs, and websites, it's always good to have everything together, so readers don't have to chase you down. They should be able to find links to all your books on any of your sites.

How do you market with any success? ~ from Peggy Trotter

First, you need to define success. What would make a marketing campaign successful for YOU? Are you trying to reach readers? Make money (how much equates to success for you)? Increase your visibility? Grow your network? Get 5 reviews on your book (or 10, or 50, or 100)? Have one person tell you their life was changed because of your words? Have Jimmy Fallon invite you for a chat on national television? Sell x-number of books in an x-amount of time?

Your answers can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, but they must be reasonable for your platform, your topic, your market.

Some authors want to hit the New York Times' Bestseller list with their first book on an aardvark's eating habits. Unfortunately (or, honestly, fortunately), that's not likely to happen unless you're Oprah or Elvis.

Other authors only want to make their mom's proud. Or their neighbor's jealous.

Define what success means to you, then work toward that goal with your marketing plan.

Which genres are easiest to market? Is marketing significantly easier/harder if you stick with one genre/subgenre and make it your brand? ~ from Ann Evans

Marketing tasks are basically the same for every genre (and depends on how much effort you choose to put into it), so the real question isn't which genre is easiest, but perhaps which genre is most popular? The list varies, depending on the source, with romance/erotica, sci-fi/fantasy, crime/thriller/mystery, religious/inspiration, nonfiction, and horror all filling top spots. The very best advice anyone could give you is this: "The single most important factor determining whether you succeed (and get published) is the quality of your writing." ~ Scott Francis in his article, "Easy Genres to Break In To."

Branding is a great way to market your books, if you always write the same genre OR have the same underlying message in multiple genres that you can use to build your brand. Establish yourself as an "expert" or "go-to" person in your topic or genre, and then create marketing materials to reflect that expertise. Develop catch phrases and logos for your brand, even choose specific colors and fonts to become "your" look, and use that same look across all social media and blogs. Use that branding as your foundation for all your promotional materials and marketing ideas.

With all the social media outlets, which one(s) are better to focus your energy on marketing? ~ from Vanessa Rose Lee

The best social media outlet for your energy depends on several factors: your book, your audience, your own social media habits, and the actual outlet itself. I'll take the last one out of the equation first: if the outlet is new and has a limited audience of only a few hundred members, you're obviously not going to have the outreach you'd have on Facebook (1.32 billion users log on daily) or Twitter (100 million users daily).

With that being said, let's focus on the other factors. Your book and your audience - where do potential readers for YOUR book hang out?

Here's a great chart that shows social media outlets broken down by age groups:

Look for the age group of your target market - your audience - and see where those readers are most active. If you write for readers age 18-24, you'll definitely want to focus more on Snapchat, Vine, and Tumblr than on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Also consider your own social media habits. If you like to hangout on Facebook, by all means do so. Don't make your social media connections all about book promotions. Readers want to connect with authors, so make yourself available to connect with them.

How do I market fiction? ~ from Cynthia Simmons

Most of the tips in this marketing series can be used for both fiction and nonfiction books. One thing to remember about fiction readers: most like series and many are voracious readers, so the more books you have, the more readers you should have, if you provide a great story. Fiction readers also usually stick to the same genre, so focus your efforts toward readers of those genres. (Here's a helpful list of hashtags to use on Twitter and Instagram for reaching specific readers.)

Don't forget to set up your Author Central page at Amazon, where you can link all of your books, your website/blog, and social media.

Other articles of interest:

Marketing Series: Build Your Team
Marketing Series: Define Your Audience
Marketing Series: Think Outside the Box
Marketing Series: Build Your Platform
Marketing Series: You've Got Questions

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