Although indie authors tend to live and die by how many books they sell, sales shouldn’t be the only focus of your book publicity efforts. Yes, book sales matter. But they’re the result of a lot of different things, and shouldn’t be the sole measure of your success.
So what is book publicity and marketing actually about? Developing and fostering relationships. It happens by taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way—by knocking on lots of doors and then finding new doors to knock on.With a solid book promotion plan, one thing builds on another and on another to create momentum. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Radio & TV Help Sell Books, Right?
Is there really a correlation between media and big book sales?
Authors love to think so. But in reality, you never know what kind of book sales your media appearances will generate. I’ve known authors to go on national shows and sell less than 100 books as a result. Most authors assume that media = sales, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes media = opportunity and in every case, media is a great way to build your resume. If this all sounds boring, stick with me, because we’ll get to how to sell more books in a minute.
Book sales depend on a great many things, including:
- A great book cover
- A great book
- Your message (what you say during the interview, blogger interview or TV appearance)
- How easily can readers get your book (spoiler alert: it doesn’t have to be in bookstores!)
So the takeaway here is that selling books is about more than media, although media can be a good strategy. Solid book publicity and marketing may lead to media attention, which in turn can lend you credibility for future efforts.
How Can I actually Get More Book Sales?
For a book to sell well, it needs to be seen multiple times by your audience. So, one interview on NPR may get your sales rank on Amazon kicking up, but it won’t stay there. However, that interview can present some other, great opportunities if you’re willing to take it further.
I never discourage an author from seeking media, but make sure you’re looking at media for the right reasons—and sales shouldn’t be one of them. So what should it be? Opportunity. Maybe the opportunity to be a return guest, to do more with the show or publication, or maybe it’s just the opportunity to go after larger media.
If you’ve done a lot of regional media, it’s likely that you’re ready to go into the national markets. Media loves media so the more media you do, the more you’ll get. Remember, building blocks.
Or, let’s leave media for a minute and go to something else like speaking. What if you have big dreams of being on stage, giving a well-paid keynote speech or just getting on the speaking circuit. If you have no experience in speaking, maybe starting in your hometown is a solid plan, to get your feet wet, hone your skills, and in the process, build your mailing list.
And sometimes seeking opportunities to build on means creating your own opportunities.
And about it means saying yes more often than you say no.
While it’s fine to turn down things that aren’t right for you, you should never turn down something just because you feel it’s “too small.” You never know where an opportunity like that could lead you. Perhaps you'll sell more books. Or even something bigger!
What is the Right Exposure for My Book?
The best campaigns are the right ones for your book. I know this sounds like a no-brainer. But I can’t tell you how many times I talk to authors who take on marketing strategies “because they think it’s the right thing to do,” instead of considering what is right for their book and audience. And if you’re not doing the right things, you won’t sell more books. You might see a small bump in sales, but it won’t move the needle far.
A good example of this is fiction, and in particular, genre fiction. I love marketing genre fiction, but I will rarely ever promise an author big, national media for this. I find that most authors get that. Unless you’re already a big household name, national media is probably a wasted effort for you. Why not spend your time elsewhere?
Building reader connections is a powerful strategy. So spend your time on marketing efforts that will actually reach your reader: reviews on Amazon, blogger reviews, eBook promos, Goodreads giveaways, etc. You get the idea.
Now, where’s the opportunity, you say? Well, as you build relationships with readers and bloggers, you are also building opportunity. You’re building a chance for a future feature, review or maybe a guest blog post.
Finding the right exposure is key. Building on that exposure to create relationships will help you sell more books.
Building Future Book Publicity Opportunities
Every single thing you do, every “win” you get should be viewed as an opportunity. And finding the opportunity in each of your marketing and publicity strategies will help you keep building towards better book sales.
We had an author once who hated the Internet. He was older and refused to do a website, social media, any of it. I finally talked him into the website and encouraged him to start blogging. His blogs were thoughtful, interesting, and insightful. He was clearly out to help his reader.
When Entrepreneur Magazine asked to interview him, he took it a step further with them and asked if they ever considered letting non-magazine staff blog on their site. As it turns out they did. He started blogging for them, which was a phenomenal opportunity that came out of one, simple interview. It’s also interesting to note that the interview in and of itself didn’t net a lot of book sales, but his ongoing exposure with them did.
The Bottom Line
When you view your book publicity and marketing as an opportunity for exposure, it may change the way you employ each strategy.
Now, keep in mind that not every media interview or blogger review will turn into multiple features. But maybe something else will come out of it. As I said: media draws media and the same goes for bloggers.
If you do it right, every opportunity is a chance to build into something bigger. So appreciate and respond to any that come your way. You never know what additional doors will open as a result.
Keep in mind is that writing books is a business. Your success will come as the cumulative result of all of your marketing efforts. So spend your time wisely, choose strategies that will aid in your ultimate goal of exposure, and layer them on top of one another. Then follow up. Really work every opportunity you get. It will make a difference and help you sell more books!
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