Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sell More Books By Marketing to Readers, Not Other Writers

Before we get started with this week's entry I'd like to make a request of my readers. If this is your first time, check out the archives on the right to see if there's anything else you find helpful. Seriously, sit down and stay a while. If you're a regular reader then please stop by my Patreon page by clicking here and becoming a donor. $1 a month goes a long, long way to keeping this endeavor running, and as mercenaries go I work quite cheap.

Now then, let's get into why you simply aren't selling as many books as you'd like to shall we?

This is why they pay me the big bucks.
Marketing a book is like solving a Rubix cube, blindfolded, underwater, in a sack, going over Niagra Falls. It looks effortless from the outside, but if you come through it with the result you want it's something of a miracle. Even if you have a sexy book cover (which I covered in this blog post), you chose an intriguing pen name (more on that in this entry), you're hand-selling like crazy (using the Literary Mercenary's handy-dandy tips posted right here), and hitting all of the other self-promotion mile markers (this is the last link, I promise) it's still possible for your carefully conceived plan to fail miserably.

One reason it fails is because you're preaching to the choir.

You Need To Reach Readers, Not Writers

This sounds really obvious, but it's something that a lot of writers miss. This is particularly true for authors who use a lot of social media to try and get the word out about their books. While it might seem like a great idea to post up information about your new novel in Facebook groups with titles like "Horror Authors" or "Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers," chances are good that's actually a pretty terrible idea. Whether you're on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media machine you should avoid putting up posts in places where you're surrounded by other authors just like you.

Why? Because writers aren't looking around online to buy books. They're looking to sell books, which means they're probably ignoring you.

But Reading is Part of Being a Good Writer

On the one hand this is very true. On the other hand being an author doesn't make someone any more likely to pick up a book by a writer he or she has never heard of. Look at your own behavior; when was the last time you saw a mass-post style ad for a book and thought to yourself, "yeah, I got to get my hands on that!" I feel it's a safe bet that almost no one reading this has ever had that reaction.

Except regarding this book, now available at Amazon!
Before you decide to utilize a particular marketing platform ask yourself who is going to see what you're putting out there. Are members in a particular group actually watching the posts other people put up and looking for books, or are they just waiting for their turn to talk about their books? It doesn't matter if you're talking on a forum, a wall, or placing an ad in a magazine; if no one is looking for books to read then you're going to get lost in the shuffle.

So How Do I Sell Books, Smart Guy?

Put yourself in places where readers gather, and get your books into their hands however you can. Once readers say nice things about your books, and recommend you to their friends you have the beginnings of an avalanche.

No I'm not just talking out of my ass here.
Yes that's a really hard thing to do, and no there's no guarantee it will work. As a strategy however, it's a better bet to try and recruit readers by going to places where they're looking for new books than it is to shout into a venue where a hundred (or a thousand) other authors are doing the exact same thing.

Rather than tell you what you shouldn't do, here are some things you should do to narrow your focus and recruit more readers. First and foremost, get a website. Get a blog, get an Amazon author page (if you don't have one, here's how to set it up), get a Goodreads page, and make sure that readers have no problem tracking you down. Make sure you put these websites on your business cards, your stickers, your giveaway bookmarks, and that you mention them in your blogs, guest blogs, and any time you manage to get an interview.

Speaking of interviews, you should be trying to get those as well. Get yourself featured by as many book reviewers and literary websites as possible because their audiences are made up of people looking for books to read. Contact local radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and anyone else who will give you some screen time, air time, or ink. People who catch segments about you might not be readers, but they're watching/listening/reading for a reason. That means they're less likely to tune you out or gloss you over, and that means you can get your foot in the door of their minds.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is get good reviews. Whether it's a 5-star rating on Amazon, a blurb on someone's blog, or just someone telling a friend about this great novel he or she just read, that's how you get noticed. If someone comes across a book with a cool cover, a killer elevator pitch, and a few hundred positive reviews then that person is going to wonder what makes this book so good. Additionally sites like Amazon promote books with lots of positive reviews, which makes it more likely you'll be discovered by other readers looking for a new author to follow.

From that point onward it's all about transmission, and sustaining your infection. That's why it's called going viral.

As always, thanks for dropping in and reading at The Literary Mercenary. If you're looking for a new book check out my Amazon Author Page on the right hand side, and if you'd like to keep up to date with all my updates follow me on Facebook or Tumblr.

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