Marketing isn’t everyone’s favorite topic, especially for authors. But once you’ve chosen your avatar and started writing your copy, the question remains: where do you find potential customers? Where do you find people to engage with? I want to discuss the three main ways to do that: social media, advertising, and personal engagement.
Let’s start with social media. Social media companies have built their businesses on connecting people who aren’t physically close to each other. This is fantastic for us as authors because we can connect with readers worldwide. In the past, if you were self-publishing a book, you had to physically find people to give it to. Now, the internet has made that much easier. However, it still comes with its own pitfalls.
The best way to think about social media is as a megaphone. It’s something you’re shouting out into the ether. Unfortunately, everyone else is also on their megaphones, creating an unbelievably confusing cacophony that can drive people mad. As authors, while we’re tempted to shut it down and say, “I’m just not going to engage,” we often don’t have that luxury.
While social media can be a strong way to build an audience, some social media platforms are terrible at it, and others are just okay. What do I mean by that? Well, if you get on Facebook, you can find many groups of people who share common interests, including readers. They often get together and talk about those interests. Or, you can create an author group for people interested in your writing, and they can follow and engage with you.
On the other hand, you have websites like Twitter. Twitter is where authors go to talk to other authors, which is fantastic. I really enjoy the author community on Twitter. But guess what? There aren’t many readers there, and the ones who are there don’t engage. As an author, it can feel like shouting into a void sometimes. In fact, in all the tests I’ve run, Twitter has produced almost zero sales, whereas Facebook and Amazon have produced significant sales for me. You might have better luck on Twitter than I do, but I’ve found that it’s not a good place for connecting with readers. It’s a great place for connecting with other authors, and the conversations can be fun, though there is a lot of drama. But compared to Facebook, which is reader-centric, Twitter is a pretty terrible social media platform for marketing.
Then there are new platforms like TikTok that I avoid altogether. That doesn’t mean you should avoid them, though. Many people are doing really well on TikTok with short-form video. I find that the types of books sold on TikTok are fairly specific, and the scale of sales is a bit different than Amazon, Facebook, or even Instagram. Instagram is another social media site where I’m not sure how many readers are using it to buy books. There are many authors and reviewers promoting book content, but sometimes social media turns into a group of people promoting to each other. Because they’re all engaging with each other, it feels like there’s a lot of engagement, but no books are actually sold. The point of marketing is to sell books. Long story short is that different social media platforms will give you different mileage in terms of how well they perform on that specific metric of selling books.
That brings us to advertising. Advertising isn’t for everyone. Frankly, many new authors don’t have the capital to do it well. But if you have a few dollars a day that you can put towards advertising, I think it’s a fantastic idea. You have to be very careful about this. Ad platforms like Facebook or Amazon are designed to take your money, they’re not designed to necessarily give you results. Their interest is in you paying for advertising, so, they’re going to do everything they can to keep you paying for advertising, which means you have to be very careful about how your ads are doing. You have to monitor them closely and ensure that you’re not spending more than you can afford.
There are many different courses out there on advertising, specifically for books on both Facebook and Amazon. I’ve had more luck with Amazon recently than Facebook, but these advertising platforms change fairly frequently, so that might change tomorrow.
The final thing I want to discuss is building a community. This, I believe, is probably the best way to market, but it requires considerable work. The first thing you have to do is set up a funnel to get people’s attention. I have a video on that specifically with a handy cheat sheet that you can download. I’ll link it in the description. By gathering people together who share a common interest, specifically in your book or the world it’s set in, you can create a community. If you engage with that community well, you’ll find that they start inviting other people in. You can generate considerable growth over time by doing this. Communities don’t tend to get gigantic really fast, but if you can build a core fan base, you’ll find that the growth is steady.
This brings up a crucial mindset piece for marketing. We’ve all seen viral ads. We’ve all heard of overnight success. But believe me when I say that’s not what you actually want. If you can extend your time horizon and say, “I’m going to grow consistently over the next ten years,” then in ten years, if you’ve been taking all the steps you need to grow, you will have an unshakeable foundation. If instead you have a viral hit and it explodes, you might find yourself without anything in a few years. Virality is great, but only if you can capitalize on it. And capitalizing on it is incredibly hard. So instead, your aim should be slow, consistent growth, adding a few readers at a time in a sustainable way.
YouTube Video Link: https://youtu.be/hy7B-0-0Etw
Thanks for reading and watching.
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