‘Build it and they will come’ – is the worst marketing advice ever! Please don’t write a book and expect loads of book sales it just doesn’t work like that.
But there is a way that your book can market itself. Let me explain…
Modern marketing is about content!
Put simply you need to create micro-content, and distribute that content as effectively as possible to gain ‘interest’. And then convert that interest into purchases.
- Distribute effectively
- Gain interest
- Convert interest into sales
One of the biggest mistakes made in business (and I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past), is to believe if you create an amazing product it will magically ‘find’ it’s audience. It simply doesn’t work that way. If you think differently I beg you to re-consider because unless you understand that critical point you’ll never get the book sales you want to achieve.
Building an audience is a very separate and distinct task to creating the product – and in business terms is the more critical.
It’s worth noting that investors will invest in a business with big audience and no commercial product, but will not invest in a business that has a product and no audience (route to market).
Shazam a popular music discovery service had no significant commercial product at the time it was purchased by Apple in 2017 for $400 million. It did however have an audience and it’s that audience that created the value.
So invest time, energy and commitment in creating your audience.
As an author you have a great advantage, you already have great content. You can simply splice up that content into micro-content to create the marketing you content you need.
Reaching and convincing a ‘cold’ audience to invest and buy your book is no easy task.
We are all surrounded by gazillions (technical term) of marketing images every day, all wrestling for our attention, and our wallets. Standing out and winning that battle isn’t easy, but it can be done. As an author you do have a big advantage because you already have lots of content that you can re-purpose.
To seduce your audience you need entice them through micro-content.
Micro-content is critical. People that don’t yet know you, will not invest a considerable amount of their precious time in you (or anything you have created) until you have proved you are worth it. You need to provide quick wins through valuable short-form content that is easy and quick to absorb before directing them to longer form content..
Someone once taught me that even if you had the cure for cancer, you’d need to prove it before anyone took you seriously. That’s soooo true.
Imagine I told you I had cured cancer – you wouldn’t believe me right.
If I said here’s a 500 page book to prove it – would you read it? Probably not – because I hadn’t yet given you sufficient evidence/proof and you don’t want to waste your time reading a book if its not going to give you the result you are after.
If in contrast I showed you a 30 second video from a famous scientist speaking in-front of a large audience confirming that I had indeed cured cancer – then you might take me more seriously?! Perhaps then you would indeed read the book, but you needed that micro-content first!
Grab a highlight pen and an editors copy of your book now (you should always have an editors copy of the book that you make notes in).
Go through the book cover-to-cover and highlight elements that can be re-purposed into micro-content. You are looking for sound-bites, quotes, short case-studies, images, photos, illustrations, info-graphics, graphs, statistics, before / after photos, testimonials etc. that could create interesting, valuable, insights, or value to others.
Aim to find 50 elements of micro-content. Don’t over think it, just pick up the pen and your book and do it. Go!
Now you have 50+ pieces of source material to create your micro-content from.
You may never get around to using all that material and you don’t have to, but it’s great to have. Now prioritise.
Select 10-20 of the best elements using a different colour highlighter, selecting the bits that will create the best quick wins / insights / entertainment for your prospective audience. It’s a good idea to select across different media so you have a variety of material where possible.
Some of the content you have selected may need to be converted.
You might for example choose to turn a written quote into a graphic, an info-graphic into a short slide presentation, or a photo into a short video clip.
Note that you can (and often should) turn one element into several forms of micro-content. One quote might become a short video, and powerpoint slide/s, a social media post, an image, and more. So 10-20 of prioritised content may become 50 pieces of great micro-content you can use to market your book.
What you convert them into will depend on what your best network / social media tools you have available to you.
It will of course take some effort to make these conversions, but it’s an investment worth making. The broader and louder you make your voice the more it will pay you back further down the road.
‘Prolific beats perfection’.
In other words get it done, and get it out.
Distribute these micro-content book marketing assets through your channels.
Distribute 2-5 pieces of micro-content each week. Through all your social media channels, through your email database and any other network options you have available to you.
Each piece should reference to your book, and link back to your books landing page.
This is an example of a landing page I use for a Crash Course Lite for Authors with a pre-sales message to encourage people to signup in advance of the item going live. This example is for an online course not a book - but the principals are the same. You can do something very similar for your book.
Create a book landing page before the book is launched.
afdInvite people to signup for an early-bird book promotional price, or offer some other ‘bonus’ in exchange for signing up in advance. You should run this promotion at least 4 weeks before the book goes live. This will give you a little time to attract interest and increase anticipation but not so long that any energy created fades away.
Keep drip feeding the micro-content all the way up to your launch day.
If you have done this well then you might even create an Amazon best-seller within your specific book niche when it goes live. It might not last for long, but if you can build enough interest then this is realistically possible to achieve and I have seen and worked with many who have done exactly that.
Anything you can do to increase that exposure and reach is a good idea.
That might include podcast interviews, meetings, on stage speaking gigs etc.
Advertising is arguably the easiest way to increase your exposure for little extra effort. If you believe you have a strong pre-launch signup incentive then advertise pre-release to increase your signups. Otherwise you may choose to wait until your book goes live to advertise.
There are many advertising channels to consider, including but not limited to Facebook ads, YouTube (Google) ads, and Google search.
This is an art in itself. So if you are new to this and don’t have a big budget create a simple image advert on Facebook for example directing people to your book landing page. Spending as little as $10 per day can be highly effective. You do not need to spend big money to get conversions as long as you are able to do a good job of selecting the right audience.
Getting the right audience is a big topic on it’s own right so I can’t go into detail here. But put quickly don’t aim to deliver your adverts to everyone that might be interested in your book, instead deliver your adverts to those who you think will be the very idea prospects for the book (use your reader avatar if you have one).
You have a big advantage as an author, so use it.
In my experience most authors are terrible marketers, but that’s good news for you. If you complete the steps below you will give your book the very best chance to stand out from the crowd, win those early book sales and reviews that are so critical and maximise your chances of commercial success.
- Use the book you’ve already written to generate 50+ pieces of valuable micro-content.
- Go through the exercise above now if you are serious about getting book sales.
- Create a book landing page.
- Distribute that content through all your marketing channels to build interest.
- Use a compelling pre-launch incentive to increase signups.
- Use advertising to increase your exposure.
- Have a 4 week pre-launch marketing campaign.
Or you can do nothing and whinge about your lack of book sales. It’s up to you.
Other Book marketing suggestions:
Book Discovery – like GoodReads
As suggested by Pradeep Pasupuleti:
‘Any author, anywhere in the world, can join the Goodreads Author Program for free. All you need is an Internet connection and a published book (or a soon-to-be published book) that can be found in our database. The Goodreads Author Program allows published authors to claim their profile page to promote their book and engage with readers. Once verified, your author profile will include the official Goodreads Author badge, which you can use to tell your fans to follow you on Goodreads.’
Give to Get
As suggested by entrepreneur Dan Priestley:
“The overarching advice I would give is to give the book away – minimum of 1000 copies per year. I’ve tried many ways to promote book sales and ultimately giving the book away always wins. Here’s why: – promotion costs money- promotion costs time- giving the books away IS promotion and often leads to more book sales- giving the book away leads to podcast appearances which leads to sales- ultimately what we really want is to use the book as a way to make proper money from our core product. In the same way we would happily buy a prospect a cup of coffee, it’s better to spend that same money sending a book.”
Want to turn your book into a course?
One of the best ways to maximise the income from your book is to turn it into an inspirational online program. An online program will often sell for 10x to 100x the price of the book, with less distribution costs, for essentially the same insights. If you are considering this – then take a look at Crash Course Lite for Authors. An online course itself that shows authors exactly how to turn their book into an inspirational online course.