Your Best Marketing Tool – Write Your Next Book
This chapter is about the activity that most of us probably enjoy the least, marketing our work. This is more than just posts on Facebook and Twitter. This is the part of independent publishing that I dread and that is the most cumbersome. To say you are an independently published author really means that you are taking on two full-time jobs, that of a writer and of a publisher.
I’m sure most of us would just like to write and ignore the marketing. Unfortunately, if you want to gain exposure, this is an unavoidable aspect of what we do. For the mundane marketing tasks, such as posting to Facebook and other social media outlets, I try to be efficient without spamming social media. Social media does have the word social as part of it. Things like automation and cut and paste marketing are time consuming and have not proven to be effective.
In the past, I’ve enlisted the help of a PR person to help me gain exposure through third parties like podcasts and blog interview tours. I then found that I could do this myself with a minimal amount of effort and a whole lot less expense.
In this chapter, however, I want to talk about the best aspect of marketing for an independently published author, writing. That’s right, the more you write, the more exposure you’ll gain and the more product you’ll have to offer to the very deep pool of readers. Here are some reasons to write as much as possible:
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More Product = More Potential Readers
There are a lot of consumers of books out there. The more offerings you have, the more exposure you will get with those readers if they like your work. If you only release one book every 1-2 years, you might fade from the memory of readers that read 2-3 novels per month.
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More Product = More Potential Reviews
I’ve written and read about feedback and its importance in the past. It’s advantageous to get feedback on multiple works so that you can assess how readers are reacting to your work and make adjustments. It also gives you the chance to get reviews from multiple (non-family) independent reviewers which will help your profile on platforms such as Amazon. When my first book Frankly Speaking, reached 50 reviews on Amazon, I noticed sales start to increase as it was promoted more by Amazon.
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More Product = Greater Traction
In traditional publishing, it takes an author an average of three books to gain traction. On a publisher’s schedule, this is a minimum of three years if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher that will wait for success through three books. Did you know that John Grisham had boxes of the book A Time To Kill in his garage until The Firm became a huge hit. It was his first book and probably one of his best in terms of substance. The good news is that we can accelerate that period of time and get to that three book milestone more quickly.
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Less Product = Selling Your Book to Death
If you only have one book and you’re posting weekly to your favorite social media outlet, you’re going to hit the same targeted readers multiple times with your single offering. This can turn readers off to your single work because they are overexposed to it.
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More Books = More Sales
There is something called the Long-Tail Effect. This is the tendency of readers to go back and purchase older books by an author if they read a newer one that they enjoy. This is how I’ve discovered many authors. Harlan Coben is a case in point for me. I read one of his later books and liked his writing style and this caused me to go back and read his earlier work chronologically. If you are on your 4th or 5th book and it hits with readers, it is almost guaranteed that your earlier books will sell more.
Now, after my pep talk in favor of writing multiple books, that doesn’t mean you should do so without some important do’s and don’ts.
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Make Sure That What You Are Publishing is of Good Quality
Publishing 12 books that are not of good quality will not gain readers for you. A reader will take a chance on one or maybe two books, but continued quality issues will ensure that your books will not be read or attract loyal readers. Negative word of mouth spreads as fast, if not faster, than positive.
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Consider Writing Short Stories
If you’re an author of fiction, short stories can be useful for multiple reasons. First, they are a great way to practice your craft. Second, they can be published individually to give readers a small, inexpensive taste of your writing, or they can be collected into an anthology giving you another book to offer. Also, short stories can be a way to further gain exposure by offering them for publication in niche online or print magazines and collections. Hugh Howey’s Epic series, Wool, started as a short story.
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Don’t Rush to Publish Something Before It’s Ready
I’ve extolled the virtues of editors and beta readers. Don’t cut corners. Make sure that you have done all of your quality checks before launching. One slip in quality and your readers may abandon you.
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Don’t be Afraid to Re-Launch a Book
Once you’ve published a book, that doesn’t mean that it will reach a peak early on and then fade away. Remember my John Grisham story. A Time To Kill is believed by many to be his best work and is arguably the best adaptation of one of his novels into a movie.
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Play with Pricing and Giveaways
When you have a new book coming out, consider lowering the prices of your earlier books or using the free or progressive pricing options on Amazon to entice readers to impulse buy them.
The information in this chapter evolves for me on a daily basis. If you take nothing else away from this, strive to learn from the tasks that you carry out to gain a positive reputation as an author. Remember, authors write books.
Don’t pay attention to the artificial time constraints imposed on traditionally published authors. Break out of the box and keep on writing.