Monday, April 25, 2011
Words of Wisdom for Marketing Books by Best-Selling Author Eddie Snipes
I recently met Eddie Snipes when he joined the John 3:16 Marketing Network. He launched his book, I Called Him Dancer, the first of April, and it hit the best-seller list in two categories on Amazon.
Following his launch, Eddie shared some of his thoughts with the John 3:16 Marketing Network authors, and I asked him if we could pass along his insights in a blog interview. Words of wisdom can help all of us to become better at marketing our books. Enjoy, and please feel free to share your thoughts on this important topic.
Question by Lorilyn: Eddie, If someone were to ask you what you learned from marketing your book I Called Him Dancer over the last several weeks, what would you tell him?
1. Self Evaluate
Authors must first step back and evaluate their plans. We all claim to be in this for the Lord, but are we really? If we are honest, there is a bit of selfish ambition in all of us. And we must guard our ambitions to keep them in check. Otherwise we'll find ourselves with a runaway ego, or grumbling with disappointment.
When we present something for an audience to hear or read, it's only natural to want that message to reach as many people as possible. However, not every message reaches the masses. You may be called to reach one person, or you may be entrusted with a best seller. If it's truly a ministry, is it for us to decide?
I say all of this because as Christians, we should examine our motives. There is nothing wrong with marketing your work, but there is a balance we must keep in perspective.
Having said this, let's take a look at marketing. Unless you have already hit the bestseller list, no one knows who you are. Plopping a book on Amazon's store won't sell books. To sell books, people have to know your book exists. The real nuts and bolts of marketing don't begin when you publish, it begins now.
2. Networking is crucial.
Networking is all about relationships. To establish relationships you must get involved in the world of writing. Writers conferences are a great place to meet people. Facebook and blogging are great ways to meet people. You don't have to have a popular blog to be a successful author. If you enjoy blogging, do so. At a minimum, every author should have a landing page to direct readers to. But if writing blog entries is a burden, don't burn yourself out or beat yourself up over it. It is a tool, but isn't a necessity. But getting involved with other authors is.
Identify a list of blogs that fits your style and interests, and begin commenting. Be an encourager. Over time, you will build a relationship and when it comes time to publish, other writers will be eager to help you. An example of this is a very popular blogger and speaker I know. When it came time to market my book, her blog had a three year waiting list for author interviews. It would not have been fair to bump another author down the list, but she still managed to help my book by posting a blurb and giveaway at the end of the current interview. Fellow authors will do that for friends, but don't expect much if you approach someone you've never interacted with.
Helping others is a great marketing tool. Promoting other authors on facebook, twitter, and if you blog, do so there. Then others will be willing to return the favor once you publish. No one wants to feel used, so build relationships now – before the time comes to market your book.
John316 marketing is a great tool in your selling arsenal; however, don't rely exclusively upon one networking tool. Think of launch day as it is intended to be. A launch. Once launched, you have the problem of sustained marketing. Otherwise your book will fall to the ground and be forgotten. None of us want our work to find its place in the graveyard of forgotten books. Writing is not for the faint of heart. As the Bible says, the race isn't to the swift. It takes persistence and endurance
3. Looking for a break.
Every bestselling author got a break. Is it luck? Not really. Think of marketing as a wall of doors. Most doors will not open, but some will. You cannot know which doors will open until you knock and ask to be invited in. Authors must be thick skinned, for most doors will be closed to anyone who is unknown. Sometimes the person behind the door will be hurtful. Don't give up on all the doors because most don't yield success. There are thousands of doors to try, and you won't find the ones that can benefit you unless you keep knocking. Who knows, behind a door may be someone who believes in your book and will give you that special break that pushes you over the top. As the cliché goes, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." In a nutshell, opportunity is what you are looking for. And you probably won't find it without perseverance and being prepared.
4. Make it easy for readers to find your book.
Post it everywhere and use every opportunity to make it easy to find and buy. Make it available as an ebook in as many formats as possible. Use smashwords.com to reach the ebook markets for Apple, Sony, Barnes and Noble, etc. Amazon has great tools for the Kindle format. All these tools are free. The goal is to get the book as high in the rankings as possible. This is so readers can find your books. Each category has a top 100 list, but unless you can get in the top 20, readers probably won't find your book. Seldom will readers browse through more than two pages of information.
John316's strategy is great for getting your book off the launch pad, but one day of ranking won't keep you airborne. The goal is to get a sustainable ranking. There are some good ways to do this. Facebook and blogs are the best tools for no-name authors. Do blog tours. You'll be surprised how many readers will buy because they read about it on their favorite site. Don't give a bland author interview, but make yourself likeable with humor, anecdotes, and tidbits about you that intrigue readers.
5. Take advantage of social networking.
Facebook is a great tool, but you need a lot of contacts to be effective. Begin friending people – even those you don't know. Remember, this is a marketing tool. You can create another facebook account for personal friends if you'd like. Focus on other writers. Writers friend writers because they also are trying to build up their contact base. Currently, I have over 2,200 FB friends. Only a fraction of those will respond, but each one is a potential contact. And a potential promoter. When your book comes out, have a giveaway where facebook friends get entries for posting links to your book on their profiles. Or links to your landing page. Each person that posts expands your marketing exponentially.
Twitter isn't as effective as facebook. In fact, the response is usually quite low. Yet, it's still a free marketing tool and since tweeting takes seconds, it is still worth the effort. At this stage, every little bit counts.
6. Price your book reasonably.
Unless you have specialized knowledge that's in high demand, you won't sell many books if you price them over $10. The best marketing in the world can't overcome an overpriced book. Avoid vanity presses like the plague. Most make their money by selling you overpriced packages and care nothing about selling books. There are exceptions, but few. To verify a press, go to their store and see how they are pricing books. If the press sells 28 page books for $10-12 or a full page novel (300 pages) for $18-25, walk away. Readers will not pay that for a famous author, so a new author won't stand a chance. This is why I started my own imprint. Start an imprint, or partner with someone who has.
7. Ebook prices are also important.
Don't sell an ebook for $9.99. The cheaper the book, the more the sales. If you want to get attention, sell it for .99 cents. I know most authors baulk at that price, but consider the facts. You are a no name author. People will take a chance on spending a dollar, but they won't toss out $10 for someone they've never heard of. Your family and friends might, but once launch day is over, your sales will plummet. I've used this philosophy, and my launch day put my book in the top 10 in two categories. It's now two weeks later, and I still bounce between #8 and #15. People are still buying as word spreads and they see the price.
Consider the business world. How do new businesses attract people? They offer great values at low prices. The introductory marketing plan is not designed to make money, but to build a reputation. Grabbing customer's attention and becoming known is the initial focus. If you're an independent author, you should approach marketing with the same philosophy. It's not a get rich quick scheme. Marketing your writing is a slow and deliberate process. Create value and draw readers in. Build your reputation with the first few books and work toward reaching a sustainable income.
8. Get influencers.
One or two reviews will not present a good impression to readers. Contact people who are interested in the genre of your book and recruit influencers. Provide them with a free book for posting reviews. The purpose of an influencer is to influence the market to look at your book. If you locate reviewers from your genre, they can post honest comments about your book and rate it. This builds your book's credibility. For a few dollars, you will have gotten advertising that's invaluable. When you market your book, readers want to see if it is worth their time. Reviews give a good indication of the value of your writing. Readers can tell if the reviewer is sincere, so don't pad your ratings. If customers feel deceived, they will sink your ratings with bad reviews.
9. Give books away.
Allow bloggers to give away free copies of your book. They post the interview and blurb, they appeal to their readers and handle the contest, but you must ship the book free of charge to the winner. Some new authors don't like this idea, but let's face it, $10 for focused advertisement is a great deal.
10. Look at marketing as a long - term effort.
Don't launch and then let your book plummet to the ground. Launch, and follow up with marketing. Then market some more. Let the marketing pay off for a week or so, and then start a new campaign. Find new ways to reach readers outside your circle of influence so you aren't wearing people out. Don't saturate your market; find ways to reach new ones. Be creative. Make connections. Build relationships. Remember, it's about people, not just your book. Take care of people, put in the work, be persistent. Then let the book sales take care of itself.
You can purchase a copy of I Called Him Dancer at your local bookstores and on-line, including Amazon.com, at the following link: http://amzn.to/gbN8vc