7 Things I learned about book marketing

It’s no exaggeration to say that I started this year with only a little bit of a clue about book marketing. I’d attended a couple of podcasts last year and had read the amazing Joanna Penn. Those activities gave me some places to start.

  • Research the Amazon categories that are closest to the book project
  • Use keywords when setting up the book in amazon
  • Use a title and subtitle on the book cover

However, these starting places ended up being more tactical than strategic. I wasn’t looking at this from the top down. I was still looking at it from the ‘things to do’ rather than approaching marketing from a classical perspective.

When I attended the Smarter Artist Summit this year, my ideas got turned on their head. Michelle Spiva gave a great talk about how  to stop trying to trick your fans into following you. Her approach was to teach them to love you instead. Michelle had a couple of key things to share. Tactics are not marketing. Strategy, it turns out, is about having a goal for what you want to do. The classic push and pull marketing strategies can be leveraged to build an overall plan. Michelle demonstrated how using both push marketing (like targeted advertising) and pull marketing (like a newsletter) can work together.

The seven main things I learned from conferences this year about marketing:

  1. Figure out what your goal is
  2. Write your ‘I am’ statement. For me:
    I am a great kids author and illustrator
    I am an awesome designer and maker
  3. That ‘branding’ is who people think you are when you’re not around
  4. Organizing events into push and pull categories helps you strategize better
  5. Push is a pattern interrupt. It is repetitive, qualified, trusted
  6. Pull is warm traffic with no intermediary, like a sale
  7. Go to where your traffic is

Michele Spiva emphasized having a long term marketing plan in order to avoid churn and burn. There are three main areas to focus on. Those are Traffic, Conversion and Sales. Oddly enough, my dad would have said much the same things. Traffic is about getting attention, conversion is about giving the traffic something to do. For conversion and sales, as an author I’m looking for true fans. To find the traffic, you need to go where they are. You need to hang out and be a genuine member of the community. Authenticity cannot be faked; they need to be your tribe.

To get back to the seven things I learned, a few words about each of these.

  1. Figuring out what your goal is
    Do you want to be a great blogger, a popular author, a celebrated illustrator?
    Your particular goals will differ. Without a goal, it’s hard to pitch to people.
  2. Write your “I am” statement 
    It helps to figure out what you’d put on a sticky note. Something that happened at the Smarter Artist Summit this year was people asking “what’s your superpower?” That was a clarifying question. Try it out for yourself.
  3. Branding
    Who people think you are when you’re not around. Huh. That means all of your messages need to be consistent. You get to understand some of this when you read your book reviews. Branding is as much about opinions as it is about what you think you’re putting out there.
  4. Push and pull strategies
    I found this super helpful. It allows me to draw a couple columns and work out where the events are, and what the tactics are for each event. Brilliant.
  5. Push  – an event that is aimed at getting traffic
    Advertising can be incredibly targeted. Amazon ads, for example, target people who  have bought books like yours. The value of the ‘also bought’, those recommendations that are shown to people when they are browsing for a new book, cannot be underestimated. Other entries into a sales funnel are free things that can be managed through Instafreebie, Bookbub, or Goodreads. Competitions are good ways to get a mailing list in place. As that’s something I haven’t done yet, this was all a bit new. My takeaway was being picky about who you have on your list.
  6. Pull events are what you do with people who already opted in
    You need to give your mailing list a reason to open your newsletter. It arrives in the mailbox, which is grand. However, it needs to avoid being annoying or too frequent. Making it valuable will build true fans.
  7. Go where your traffic is
    If you’re on Goodreads, you can recommend books you like. That gets you known in the community. When you have something of your own to contribute, like a new book, then it’s not spammy to mention it. Hang out in the forums, join lists for things you are interested in, and make conversation. It’s good to be a welcome visitor in the room.

I am continuing to learn more about publishing and book marketing all the time. Attending workshops and podcasts with indie authors like Michelle Spiva gives me inspiration.

This year, my strategy is to start is building an overall marketing plan. Then I’ll work on the top of the funnel for one project area at a time. Thank you to everyone who shared their tips and tricks with me. I’ll keep telling you what I find out along the way.

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