Marketing – The Dreaded M Word – and the tips you need to do it well

Alatorre

As part of my beta reader interaction, I received an email from a stressed soul who needs help.


Dear Dan,

Pleasure for the beta reading. I’ll get the review done asap. As for the box set, I’ve already pre-ordered it.

You are amazing with your marketing! I’m so impressed and it’s so important for selling books and getting known.

I’m terribly hopeless at that side of things so basically no one knows about my books – or reads them for that matter!!! 

I really need to get around to learning how to market my books like you do! Amazing!

Let me know if you have any courses you could recommend?

Cheers and good luck for the release of Double Blind.

Signed,

Stressing

 

Dear Stressing,

Here’s Poggibonsi as a PDF, and if you like it, the Poggi eBook occasionally runs on sale for 99 cents so you can buy it and leave a verified review (otherwise it’s $2.99). Buying it can be part of your marketing course. Maybe what I’m about to tell you is worth three bucks.

Marketing is tough because it’s always changing.

What worked 5 years ago may not work now.

I have a hard time keeping up, but what I’ve learned is, blogs and newsletters are helpful, but paid media is essential. Well-known entities like James Patterson and Ford and Coca Cola advertise all the time, right? So we have to, too.

The problem is, WHERE to advertise (that we can afford, since we aren’t Coke) and then making sure the paid media we buy is EFFECTIVE.

 

I was fortunate enough to be in the Death and Damages box set with a bunch of New York Times bestselling authors and USA Today bestselling authors, so I’ve been networking with some of them and picking their brains.

img_6617
amazing box set referenced above

The secret to success – if you can call it a secret – is:

 

1. Develop and build a loyal fan base. That means a group of people you can go to, but realize that

(A) it’s ALWAYS going to have attrition, so

(B) you ALWAYS have to be growing it.

2. A newsletter so YOU can directly reach your people (and don’t have to rely on Amazon or Facebook or WordPress or anyone else.)

Information like email addresses of people who like your work is the bread and butter of those social media giants and marketing behemoths, and if they take it away or mess with it or charge you for it – and they’ve all shown themselves to be capable of that – you are screwed.

3. Paid media (a.k.a. buying ads, pay promo sites)

(More on that in a sec.)

4. Lots and lots of other smaller things

Like blogging, a Facebook author page, launch parties, doing local bookstore signing events, going to book clubs, etc.

None of this is new to me, and if you ask bestselling authors Allison Maruska or Jenifer Ruff, they’ll say the same thing.

img_6816-1
This amazing horror anthology is also just 99 cents right now

The “little” things, like blogging or local author events, add up. We should try to do those when they’re available.

Blogging, people do once a week or once a month; some, like Jenifer Ruff, don’t blog.

Same with Facebook. You do what feels right to you. What you like and have fun at.

Local events, do when you can/when you can afford to.

 

Newsletters/mailing lists: 

We can buy a course on how to build a newsletter (which I’ve done) – and then we have to DO the things required to grow it (which I haven’t done), and there are a LOT of things on that list.

Strategically giving away a LOT of stuff can be part of that process, and it can take a lot of time initially, but it’s worked for people like Al Macy.

Finally, and most importantly, we can and should buy ads.

Get all the free exposure and networking you can, but buy ads.

aaa Tyree COVER v 3 thriller

With paid media, we have to do “a lot” of it and  monitor what works. You can go through a TON of $$$ and see NO results.

  • Ask your author friends who they used and ask what the results were (For some, spending $50 and selling ten books is good. For others, that’s bad. Ask so you have an idea.)
  • Is there a specialty for your genre? Some sites work great for cookbooks but not romance books. That’s important to know before you put your book there.
  • Expectations: When someone says, “XYZ was good for me,” ask: when did you run the ad, what book did you run, what were your results?

 

Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets, so we are best served by tracking our results.

That means how many books did ads X, Y, and Z sell?

 

Stacking ads – having a LOT of ads running at the same time – is also effective, and sometimes it’s VERY effective – but then if you sell 200 books, how do you know what ad sold the books? You might spend more money on a site that didn’t sell you anything, and not spend on a site that did because you won’t know.

poggi-cover-final
this is Poggi, by the way – a very different kind of romance book

You can create a free global link for a book and create a different tracker for each site where you place an ad on for that book. (Like Poggi1, Poggi2, Poggi3 – and THEN you’ll have a better idea of which site sold the most books. If Poggi1 gets 5 clicks and Poggi3 gets 300 clicks, odds are Poggi3 was doing the selling. That doesn’t mean the site with Poggi1 was bad; it means it’s not as good as Poggi3’s site. Depending on the cost, The site that used Poggi1 might be worth running again.

 

When you develop a loyal base, you must cultivate it.

Be friendly. React and reply to everyone. Try to seem upbeat. Show them your true self, your personality. Basically, become friends – and let them know they are special. 

That’s hard for a lot of writers because they’re introverts,

but when you say “Thank you” versus “Thank you, my friend! You ROCK!” there’s a difference.

You called them your friend. That matters, even if they aren’t coming over to the house on Friday for pizza. (It felt weird the first few times I did it, too.)

BEFORE BUYING ADS:

Is your story one with interesting characters, good pacing, no typos, and a professional-looking cover that screams the genre the book is in? Would I think so? Would fans of that genre think so? Beta readers can help with that.

Look at the covers I’ve placed in this post.

  • Does the Dark Visions cover scream Horror?
  • Does the Double Blind cover scream Murder Mystery?
  • Does the Poggibonsi cover scream sex?

You weren’t expecting a test, but here we are.

Gang, if you want to write a guest blog post or showcase some of your books on my blog or someone else’s, ASK. We could do an author profile or something. Why not? The worst that will happen is they’ll say no.

That’s how we grow our author network, and we’ll always need friends (and friends of friends) to go to for something.

That’s part of marketing, too.

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