Thousands of new books are published every day. That’s right, thousands! So how does your book get noticed?
Communication is key. I’ve always believed that communication is the most important skill to have in business–and in everything we do to market our businesses–and our books.
Since you don’t have time to effectively communicate with your audience on every social media platform there is, it’s important to communicate regularly on one or two. Share posts that encourage communication–asking and answering questions.
When you build a relationship with your audience, they will be much more likely to notice and buy your book, and to tell others about it. Books sell by word of mouth and this happens when you build relationships and communicate with your readers.
Continue building your reader base with a newsletter list. Communicate regularly with your list, sharing insights into your writing and what you’re doing, making them feel special and important.
Your goal is not to find the next buyer.
Your goal is to create the next reader who will come back for your next book, and will tell others.
The average person’s training in marketing consists entirely of seeing how fast we can mute the commercials during our favorite television show. And spam.
We’re taught, from the time we become consumers at the age of 2 or 3, how marketing is obnoxious and annoying, and that’s all we experience. Because when it is otherwise, when it is kind, polite, unobtrusive, considerate, and helpful, we don’t think of it as marketing so we never learn to adjust our view.
Here’s permission to adjust your view of your newsletter, and marketing in general. The whole point is to politely share news which will be of interest to people who’ve explicitly told you they find you interesting.
That’s an important part: people who’ve explicitly told you they find you interesting.
Consider: if a young woman approached a young man and said “Chase me, please; I won’t run very fast,” would he dither and wonder how best to go about this dance? I daresay he’d not delay in his pursuit.
It’s Only Polite
When people sign up for a newsletter, you’ve invited them for a meal. Not sending anything is the equivalent of hiding in the basement while they sit at an empty table. Eventually, their eager anticipation will turn to antipathy.
The people on your newsletter email list are saying “I’m on board, I’m interested, I want to know what’s next. Please tell me.” Use your hosting urges to feed them well. You’ll love it, I promise.
But What Will I Say?
Imagine one of them bumped into you at the coffee shop, and asked if they could sit with you for a moment. What’s one question they might ask about you, or your writing, or your books, or your plans? Write that answer, short and sweet, as if you were chatting with a good friend.
It takes 5 minutes to create a Hubspot account. It takes 5 more to choose a template and get things set up. Another 5 to write a simple email about where you are in your latest book or what you’re facing in your marketing or business, your work in progress or current challenge. You don’t even need an answer. A question, clearly stated, is enough.
Your newsletter doesn’t have to be any longer than a comment on a blog or a social media post. How long does that take? How hard is it to pour out your feelings in that medium?
Do that once a month and your fans will fall in love with you. All they want is to be noticed by the author they’re following.
Set Yourself Apart by Doing the Hard Thing
I once surveyed all the authors I knew about what they wanted most for their writing.
The universal response was “Someone to do my marketing for me.”
I considered setting up an affordable and effective marketing service and then trying to sell it to all those people, but that’d be like Henry Ford giving us faster horses.
What authors really want is a way to spend more time writing and less time marketing, yet still sell books. And if possible, to do it without hating themselves in the morning. Or being hated by everyone around them.
I’ll state my premise up front: the way to do that is follow these two steps:
Write more top-quality books, and
have a great email/newsletter list.
Authors who write more good books sell more books.
Authors with a newsletter email list full of fans sell more books.
And they do it with less marketing, more writing.
The Magic Formula
Everybody loves a step-by-step to get reliable repeatable results. A checklist for success.
The thinking is, if only we could find exactly the right time of day to tweet, the precise number of blog posts to write each week, the perfect balance of Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo, and just the right book launch strategy, everything would fall into place.
There’s good news, and there’s bad news.
The Good News
Marketing is easy: tell people who love books like yours that you’ve written one.
The Bad News
I don’t know who those people are. Neither do you.
Back to the Good News
You can find out who those people are by watching them sign up for your newsletter. A newsletter list of people who signed up because they care is the Golden Ticket, the brass ring, the Holy Grail.
So here’s the one-step magical formula for marketing your books: tell your newsletter list about it.
If you wish you didn’t have to spend so much time marketing, you hate marketing, why do you have to sell yourself for pity’s sake what’s with all the marketing I just want to write, here’s some more good news: building your newsletter is the organic result of making personal connections with people.
It’s slow. It’s not guaranteed. It involves interacting with other human beings, something many authors are unaccustomed to.
But it’s relatively easy, it won’t interfere with your writing, or anything else in your life, and it doesn’t require skills beyond what you already have. You’re probably already spending more time on social media than it requires.
Here’s how it works (wherein we finally get that list you’ve been looking for.)
The Step-by-Step List
Everything you do to market yourself (yourself, not your books) leads folks to your newsletter. Here’s how it works:
They sign up for your newsletter because
they like what they read at your blog because
you answered their question generously after
they liked your Facebook page because
they read your Twitter feed about
your comment at someone else’s blog.
Swap in any social media platforms (Pinterest, LinkedIn) because mostly, it doesn’t matter. Go where your people are. Or, be where you already are, and connect with your people who are also there. 7 billion people on the planet. Finding people is not hard. Narrowing your focus is hard.
Go forth and be generous and patient. People will follow you home. Slowly. But they will.
And when they fall in love with your writing, the hard part is done and the marketing becomes dead simple: tell them you’ve written another book.
Should I Give Something Away?
Another ubiquitous question. For your author newsletter, I say yes, yes, a thousand times yes. The best way to let visitors become fans, to fall in love with your writing, is to give them some of it, like a sample in the grocery store will have you scrambling to the aisle where you can pick up some of that coconut cherry almond fudge you just sampled.
Generosity is your greatest marketing tool. Don’t use it sparingly; spread it around like manure (or, perhaps, coconut cherry almond fudge) and watch things grow.
Generosity and free aren’t the same thing. Generous can include over-delivering on what you were paid to do. I’ve had generous helpings of fish at our favorite chippy in St. Paul. Paid for, but still generous. When you hire me to help with your writing and publishing, generosity will be ladled over you like gravy. Good white gravy like we make in Texas for your sausage and biscuits; that kind of generous.
A newsletter is your inner circle, the folks who’ve said the blog and other social media aren’t enough, I want more.
What smart marketing person could miss the fact that these are the folks most likely to spend real live money on other things you offer?
It’s about context. A free sample doesn’t lead anyone to believe the product is free as well. If I give away my first mystery in a series to get folks hooked, they don’t believe they can have all the others free.
Quality Leads to Quantity
While this form of list-growing is slow, it’s oak-strong. Most of the folks on my list are people I interacted with personally before they signed up. I taught them something, and explicitly or not, let them know I had a newsletter.
My personal approach gives me open rates 3X more than the average. My small list engages.
We are not the Persians with an army of millions, coming to take Greece. We are the Spartans, defending the pass. Small, focused, changing the world so it won’t change us.
Want to spend your time writing instead of marketing?
Your email subscribers are on your list because they want to hear from you and are eagerly anticipating your book release. They will be happy to share news of your book with their audience as well. They just need to know how to do that and you can provide all the information they need to easily share your book release announcement.
About a month before your book is released, let your email list know when the book will be released and ask them to share the announcement with their network. Write up copy about the book that your audience can share on their social media platforms. Include sample tweets and Facebook messages they can share. What other ways can you leverage your email list to support your book launch?
Here’s a great example. Author of The Business of Being, Laurie Buchanan, PhD, just sent out an email to her list about her book release early next month. She includes several things her audience can do to help support her book launch – all of which I strongly recommend my clients include in an email they send to their list about a month before their book release. I asked Laurie if I could share her email here and with her permission, it’s reprinted here. See my notes that follow. … more … “Leveraging Your Email List for Your Book Launch”
Your nonfiction email list subscribers may have signed up when you offered a valuable free report. Perhaps you shared tips from your book. To keep your email list subscribers you’ll need to continue offering valuable content with each email you send. When you do this your readers will come to know that you are an authority in your field. It’s you they’ll turn to when they need information on the topic you’re an authority on.
Don’t hold back thinking you’ll save it for your next book. You can still include it in the book, perhaps expanded with more details and statistics. In fact, you’ll be more likely to sell more books to your list because they will have a taste of what’s in it. As with any other marketing, remember the 80/20 rule and provide 80% content to 20% book marketing in your emails. … more … “Writing for Your Nonfiction Email List”
Email marketing is still going strong! It’s a very effective way to stay in touch with people who want your services or product. Since people chose to sign up to be on your list, you know these are people who want to hear from you.
If you have a solid social media presence, that’s a great place to start to build your list. Your fans and followers on social media have already shown an interest in you, your book, your business since they are following you. Take the initiative and invite them to sign up for your email list too. Here are a couple of ideas for messages you might send out on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn weekly asking your followers to sign up for your email list.
Sign up for our newsletter and receive your free report [title of report] [link where they can sign up for email list]
If you enjoy reading my blog, sign up for my email list for all the latest news & updates. [link where they can sign up for email list]
More tips to build your email list:
Your website should have a prominent invitation to sign up for your email list.
Offer a freebie for signing up for your list – a free report, tips sheet, or sample copy of a chapter from your book.
Add a signup box to your Facebook page. If you use Constant Contact or MailChimp, they have an easy way to integrate a sign up page with Facebook.
Include a signup link in your email signature.
Mention your newsletter in your book and invite readers to sign up at your website.
If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so here.
What other tips have you found useful in building an email list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.