Marketing is something writers tend to dread. They come up with all kinds of excuses to justify not marketing their books: I don’t want to make a profit from my book, just see the story or ideas “get out there.” Marketing is rude/sleazy and will ruin my image. Marketing is hard and will take up too much of my time.

I want to clear up some misconceptions about marketing, and repair this bad image it seems to have gotten amongst writers. Marketing is one of the most important parts of the process of publishing a book–unless your goal is to print one copy to tuck away in a drawer and never let see the light of day!

Writers are not usually marketers, and they tend to view marketing as an untamable wild stallion. But it’s really more like a highly spirited trail horse. If you know how to ride and control a feisty mount, you can get your horse to take you where you want to go. If you don’t know a thing about riding, and don’t even try to figure out the basics before you attempt it, you could end up anywhere–most likely on your rear in the mud!

The reason why marketing is such a misunderstood creature is that few people understand what is good marketing and what is not.

Good Marketing is not:

  • Spamming Facebook and Twitter with your Amazon link
  • Flashy blinking ads popping up everywhere
  • Getting a T-shirt that says “Buy My Book”
  • Shouting about your book through a loud speaker
  • Hard work
  • Hard to learn
  • About selling
  • About immediate results
  • Camping out in an ice cream truck playing the enticing music, only there is no ice cream, and you’re waiting to pounce on unsuspecting ice cream lovers to sell them your book
Good Marketing starts almost before you even write your opening scene. An exciting, well written story draws readers and will generate word of mouth referrals. Choosing a target audience and genre, selects who the book will appeal to. You are also marketing when you choose your cover art, your back cover synopsis, your “about the author” blurb, snippets from critics, etc. Anything you do which is aimed at helping your book get distributed and consumed is marketing. Notice I did not say sell.  Even if making a profit is not your goal, you still want your book to get noticed and read. Marketing is a necessary part of that process.

Good Marketing is about your audience and you, more than your book. It’s about interacting with and engaging people. You want to foster open and receiving attitudes by having conversations and giving of yourself. You don’t want your audience closed to your message because you’re using “turn off” marketing methods. Once your audience knows, likes and trusts you, they will more naturally want to buy your book–without you shoving it down their throat.

That said, you don’t want to hide the fact that you have a book to sell, or let people forget about it. But you don’t want it to be in people’s faces all the time either. So marketing is a balance between keeping people’s interest and attention, and letting them know you have a book they might be interested in buying.   You don’t even have to mention your book in a blog or social media post. You could just have it visible on your webpage. When people go to your webpage to learn more about you, after seeing you make a great post on Facebook, they will learn about your book. You can also find natural ways to work your book into your conversations: “That’s a really clever observation,! It’s just like I say in my book title/link….blah blah blah.” Which sounds a lot better than: “Hey everyone I have a book! You should buy it! I say interesting things in it! I’m so great!”

People will know and understand that you have a book to sell. So you aren’t trying to be sneaky or fool them. You’re just trying to make it a little more enjoyable for them. Show them that you have something valuable to offer them, besides just what you are selling, and win their appreciation and respect.

You don’t have to be marketing 24/7 to achieve good results. If you learn how to do it right, just a little bit of effort a couple times a week is enough. And remember, marketing is an exercise in patience. You won’t see massive book sales after your first Tweet. It is something that builds over time (which is why its important to start building your platform before you even have a book to sell).

Stop making up excuses and reasons not to market. To get started, brainstorm about what you have to offer your target audience other than your book, and then give it freely to them. That will get the ball rolling, but don’t stop there. Marketing is as important to book sales as plot is to story structure–it is something every writer should spend a little bit of time learning and putting into practice.

©2012 Amanda June Hagarty. Go Do Some Twitter
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