© 2018, Charles S. Weinblatt
Congratulations! You have produced your book. You are a published author! What’s next? What should you do to enhance sales?
In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing retail book market, even trade-published authors cannot count on someone else to successfully market your book. So, you will need to chip in with some time and effort to make your book a smashing retail success.
What marketing tasks must you accomplish as the author? Why an author platform?
Because of the changing nature of the publishing world and the revolution in electronic book purchasing, someone needs to market your book throughout the Internet world. Because this work is extremely labor-intensive and detail-oriented, few publishers have the time, employees or enthusiasm to make electronic marketing successful. This is where the author must step in, with the motivation to work hard on behalf of your own book. The bad news is that there is a lot of work for the author to do. The good news is that almost no expertise or money is required.
Viral marketing ideas:
What should you do to help reach readers? Contact local newspapers, magazines and blogs to solicit articles about you and reviews for your book. Reach out to local bookstores and arrange for book signings. In some cases, you can sell books on your own through local organizations. Keep in mind that institutional sales often include repeat sales, year after year, such as with schools, encyclopedias and libraries.
Try to obtain reviews and interviews about your book everywhere in your town. One of the fastest ways to solicit business for your book is through the media. Since positive reviews sell books, contact regional newspapers, libraries, schools, magazines and book clubs. They are a great place to start. When you encounter serious interest, send them a review copy.
But, the world is a lot bigger than your neighborhood. If you want a great many people to read your book, you will need to create a much more global electronic marketing campaign. Fortunately, almost all of this can be accomplished with your computer. Better yet, it won’t cost you a dime.
First, create a viral marketing campaign. Viral marketing means any way that social media allows for people to continue to spread the word on their own electronically. The obvious examples include web pages, blogs, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, video marketing (You Tube) and all other electronic means of spreading the word about your book. It sounds difficult. In reality, it is simple and free.
Use effective KEY WORDS, so that search terms in Google or other search engines will easily help readers find places where your book is sold. Test your key words often for accuracy. Modify them as necessary.
Identify local people, places and organizations relevant to your book or your potential readers. Contact them in an effort to make them aware of your book. Ask if you can give a presentation to groups, if appropriate.
Contact regional newspapers, journals, magazines, TV and radio stations with a sales pitch for your book, or for your as an author. Personal interest broadcasters are always seeking new ideas and people. The more personal your effort, the easier it is to achieve success. Always try to tie your book or its subject to regional events, history, activities or to local people.
E-mail marketing is inexpensive and fast. However, your sales pitch must grab the reader’s interest quickly. You must construct an e-mail cover page that is informative, has embedded links to your web sites and the publisher and will sell the value of your book instantly. More about e-mail marketing later in this article.
Web site marketing:
Never rely on the public finding your one book landing page, or even your publisher’s web site, if you’re lucky enough to have someone else working for your book’s success. Anyone can create a free web page for his or her book. Just visit Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, WordPress, BlogSpot, Goodreads, or Facebook and begin building your site. There are many other Internet sites where you can build a web site or market for free, not the least of which is LinkedIn. The instructions are simple and fast. The more pages that you create for your book, the more chances buyers will discover it.
For example, I created a free web page that includes many detailed facts about my book (Jacob’s Courage), including review excerpts, historical data and links to my Blogs and web sites, as well as my publisher. To keep readers on the site, I added dozens of interesting and useful links about the Holocaust. You can see this web site here.
I created another web site that includes a syllabus for my book, packed with features and reasons why people should purchase it. You can see that web page here. Connect these web pages to each other via links. This is FREE. All it takes is some of your time.
The secret to success with Internet web sites is to make them interesting and to use effective key words. Key words (a.k.a. “tags”) are the way that search engines find web pages. For example, if you Google “Holocaust love story,” you will find many useful references to me and to my book. Select your key words very carefully. The more accurate, distinct, descriptive and appealing your key words, the better the chance that search engines will uncover your book.
Some people recommend that you give away downloadable copies of your book on the Internet, as a marketing tool. Publishers may disagree. However, if you allow someone to download your e-book, or e-mail it to them, there is a chance that they will enjoy it and tell their friends about it. Someone recently asked if I was disappointed that so many people were reading my book from the local library, rather than paying for it at a bookstore. I don’t mind at all. People who enjoy your book will tell friends and family about it. In the end, giving away books judiciously is a viable sales tool.
There is no limit to the number of web pages that you can create. The more times you create a new web page, and the more times you update an existing page, the more times you refine and enhance your key words/tags, the more times people will discover your book. Continue to perform maintenance on your key words and update your sites with continuously with new tags and links.
Before you are done, go to this web page. Here you will be able to submit your book’s web sites to Google’s search manager. This step is critical, so that your web sites will appear on as many future Google searches as possible.
Blogging about your book, blogging as a writer or writing on other blogs can be a powerful tool to increase sales. Anyone can create a blog for free and use it to promote a book. I Blog on two of my own sites. You can see them here and here. Blog about anything of interest to you, or any particular expertise you have acquired. It doesn’t have to be related to your book. Note that you can easily promote your book on blog pages, through links and sidebar widgets. Just be sure to sign off each post as, “Author of …” below your name. And use hyperlinks to activate the name of your book and your name.
Using Google to find appropriate marketing opportunities:
Anyone can use Google to search for any key words with a feature called “Google Alerts.” Simply visit this Google page and you’ll be able to program Google to search the web continuously, snagging every article, book, news item and relevant site to your book and its needs. You’ll not only know the latest news about the topic of your book, you’ll also be able to effectively measure the value of your prior marketing efforts for quality.
Importantly, you can also comment on other people’s blogs, vastly increasing your book’s visibility. For example, my book is about the Holocaust. I use the above Google search feature to troll the Internet searching for Holocaust key words. When I find Internet newspaper or magazine articles about the Holocaust, I visit the site, evaluate it for marketing viability and decide whether it is a useful marketing tool about my book. When Google finds other blogs and pages that are Holocaust-related, I comment there about Jacob’s Courage.
Similarly, you can comment on articles in magazines and newspapers via their Internet versions. In some cases, you will need to register. It’s usually free and the time you put into registering is a small price to pay for the ability to promote your book in future iterations of that newspaper or magazine. Most Internet news media allow reader comments after an article. When you find an article related to your book, write your comment and then sign your name and, “Author of …” after your name. Be sure to include the title and the sales URL of your book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook fan page, etc.. If possible, add a link to your best web site under the name of your book.
Anyone can write articles and have them published on the Internet. Where is your expertise? What’s your book about? In what way can you provide people with valuable information?
Writing articles is not simple or swift. You may need to conduct some research. Take your time and write carefully. Your topic need not be connected with your book. For example, my book is about the Holocaust, yet I have had articles published on topics as wide ranging as publishing, psychology, Judaism, life, death, WWII and philosophy.
LinkedIn is another terrific place to market your books. I’ve discovered that tens of thousands of readers and authors populate many more tens of thousands of group message boards in LinkedIn. Find one in which you can share some expertise. Then, within your posts there, find some unobtrusive way to share information about your book(s). Even if you simply sign off with your name and the name of your book, you can include a link or an embedded link below your name, or in the name of your book. I track most sales of my published books and I saw a significant increase in sales after I posted in various LinkedIn groups related to writing, publishing or books. There are many more. It’s not why I went there; but a side effect is more royalties.
I had excellent success publishing articles about a number of topics. In many cases, no experience as a published author is required. Two of the best places to start are Ezine and TRCB My book is about Judaism, but I look for a chance to write articles about it that will be distributed on various web sites for all faiths. Again, sign off with your name and the name of your book underneath and copyright each article. If they allow it, add the reverse-link to your best landing page.
Establish a Goodreads account. Goodreads is a web site for readers and authors. It is a terrific place to see and be seen. There is no more natural place to sell your book’s value to potential readers. Although Goodreads is not a retail site, it offers an opportunity to network with other authors who have similar interests and problems.
Join as many social networking sites as possible. Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, You Tube, WeChat, Tumblr, Skype, Snap Chat, Google+, Pinterest, Telegram, Reddit, Instagram, Goodreads, … They are all valuable ways to make your book known. At each of these social networking sites, you can create a profile, including a description of your book and stores where it is sold. Be sure to create a Facebook fan page for your book, spread the word about it and update it frequently. Join groups within the sites that are related to your book, writing, being published and anything related to the topic. Join groups of interest and related to your book. You can reach many thousands of people within these groups.
Amazon is not only a place to sell your book. It is a place to post a blog (“Amazon Author Page”). Amazon’s “filedby” includes an author biography where you can post relevant articles. Also within Amazon, each content section has forums in which people start topics or respond to the topics of others. Amazon forums are as wide ranging as history, historical fiction, war, genocide, love stories, religion, literature, etc. Again, each time you write, sign off with your name and the title of your book (“author of…”). You will instantly have the potential to reach thousands of readers.
Create a review for any relevant book sold there that you have read. (“Create Your Own Customer Review”). Be sure to write, “Author of …” after your name. Every time someone reads your review of that book, the name of your book will appear. Since the reader is already on Amazon, they can purchase your book by typing its name at the top of the page. You can review as many books as you wish, each time marketing your own book under your name.
You can personally contact tens of thousands of critical people and organizations with e-mail. Never count on a publisher doing this. They can only dream of having the time and labor to accomplish such a task. All that you need are e-mail addresses, an effective sales letter and some time.
As an example, my Holocaust book could be sold at any Holocaust museum or Jewish center in the English-speaking world. I used a Google search to locate the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO). Each member of the AHO, throughout the United States is listed, with an e-mail address. All that was left for me to do was to create an effective e-mail cover letter and send it to each one electronically.
Since we have already established the danger in using attachments that people fear opening, you must embed links instead. This is very simple and very fast. Below is an example of one of my e-mail marketing letters:
“Greetings. I am the author of historical fiction framed within the Holocaust called Jacob’s Courage (2015, Texas Tech University Press). A retired university administrator; I was also published for nonfiction in 1986, for non-fiction again in 2011 and then twice more for fiction. Jacob’s Courage is a tender coming of age love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria. This popular historical novel presents accurate scenes and situations of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. It explores the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. From desperate despair, to unforgettable moments of chaste beauty, Jacob’s Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality.
Jacob’s Courage is sold through all major booksellers. Reviews include Jewish Book World and the Association of Jewish Libraries. You can read some of the other reviews more extensively at the Amazon site. Jacob’s Courage is also a Kindle Book. A syllabus is here.
Would you care to write an article about Jacob’s Courage, interview me or review the novel? May I send you the e-reviewer’s copy?
Feel free to contact me at XXXXXXX.XXX or by telephone at XXX.XXX.XXXX. Thank you for your kind attention.
Note that hyperlinks are vastly superior to typing in lengthy Internet addresses.
Your e-mail message should be brief and concise – less than one page. Embed the right web sites, contact information, reviews, sales links and media successes. The e-mail is only designed to grab their interest, so be brief. The embedded web sites and relevant links will sell your book. At least one of your embedded web sites should allow the reader to instantly purchase the book. In my e-mail message above, the reader can buy the book instantly through the publisher’s site or through Amazon, with only one click required to reach the site.
I created four web sites for my book and I provide a few interesting articles as well. This took only a few days to create and modify them to my tastes. It cost nothing. In fact, some large Internet companies, like Google, will pay you per click if you allow them to advertise on your site. Instead of paying for web site development, create your own and make money by selling advertising on it. Learn more about the affiliate program.
Embedding Internet hyperlinks into your e-mail cover page is simple. In many e-mail programs that use Word as an editor, you can right-click on any word and then select the button for “Hyperlink.” Follow the instructions to embed the hyperlink. That word will appear in all future e-mail versions of your letter in blue. When your reader clicks on the blue word (while compressing the “Control” key), your web site will emerge in their browser. Try it with the sample e-mail paragraph above.
The world of book marketing and sales is undergoing considerable rapid change. People who formerly explored the world of books and purchased them at their local bookstore increasingly do this now on the Internet. The Internet is filled with web sites, social networking locations and blogs that can be used to attract the public to one’s book and accomplish the sale with a few mouse clicks.
The author can solicit reviews, articles and sales by creating several attractive and concise web pages and by implementing an effective e-mail marketing campaign, right from their own computer – and it is cost free.
Since publishers are still required to edit, print, distribute and market in traditional ways, and since they have fewer staff due to lower margins, it falls upon the author to accomplish many new tasks related to electronic marketing and sales.
Marketing your book is time consuming and sometimes frustrating. But do not count on your publisher, a publicist, an agent or anyone else to accomplish critical tasks, particularly if you are a new author. Remember that in fiction, the quality of your author platform means everything. Be willing to implement your own marketing with web sites, blogs, a Facebook fan page, regular Twitter posts and e-mail. The harder your effort, the larger your royalty checks will be.
Charles S. Weinblatt\
Author, “Jacob’s Courage”