If you’re a self-publishing author, you struggle to find time for book marketing.
Writing fills your “spare” time, especially if you’re combining self-publishing with a full-time job and looking after your family.
Sooner or later however, you’ll decide that you must market your books so that readers can find and enjoy them. You’re conflicted. With just 24 hours in each day, how can you write and publish your books, and market them as well?
No need to obsess. You can market your book in fifteen minutes a day. Do that four times a week, and hooray! you’ve spent an hour on book marketing.
BUT… Chances are that although you market your book (or books) you don’t spend time on research, and book marketing research is essential.
Not only does research help you to sell your books, it helps you to assess the marketplace and target future books to what readers want.
Something of which to be aware: marketing is all-encompassing. Promotion (what most people mean when they talk about “marketing”) is just a part of marketing.
Marketing also includes: assessing your books regularly (do the covers and blurbs appeal to your audience?); your books’ prices (it is time to switch to KDP Select?); your books’ availability on various retailers, as well as their formats (should you consider audio?)
Without book marketing research, you’re in the dark, and your promotions will be much less effective than they could be.
Book marketing: focus on minutes, rather than hours
When I’m coaching self-publishing authors in book marketing, I encourage them to experiment and discover short activities they enjoy.
If an author enjoys reading, we might look at ways in which he could combine book marketing with his reading.
He could write and publish book reviews, either on his own blog, or as a guest on someone else’s blog, for example. However, writing reviews takes hours of precious time—most authors don’t have this kind of time.
Tweets or short Facebook posts take much less time. Commenting on others’ posts also takes less time.
In five minutes, an author who enjoys reading could:
- Create short Twitter or Facebook posts with a couple of hashtags like: #reading; #amreading; #readingtime, etc.
- Retweet other authors’ posts;
- Start a conversation about a book on Twitter;
- Comment on Instagram #bookgrammer posts, or posts of authors in his genre…
You can do many activities on your phone.
With your promotions out of the way, let’s look at book marketing research.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Research: spend five minutes reading book reviews (not your own)
You can read reviews on Amazon, on Twitter, on book blogs; anywhere you choose. Spend five minutes once or twice a week.
(By the way: avoid reading your own books’ reviews if they make you anxious.)
Reading readers’ comments helps you to get to know readers. Not only will this make marketing your books easier, it will help your writing too.
Check out your favorite book bloggers; aim to find one or two who review books which are similar to yours. Help them out by commenting on their blogs, if you wish. If you decide to comment, don’t look on this as a marketing activity—comment only if you have something relevant to say.
Make notes while you’re researching, otherwise you’ll forget what you’ve learned quickly. No need for detailed notes, just a sentence or two about anything you found interesting.
2. Assess your marketing materials; research and test your advertising
Check your “author” social media profiles and feeds once a week.
When I coach authors, I read their social media posts. Not so much for the posts themselves. Rather, I want to be sure that an author’s social media profiles and posts not only make it plain that he’s author, but also make it simple to check out his books.
Anyone who clicks on an author’s profile on a social media website should be able to access his current book list at a click.
You can check your own recent posts on a couple of social media sites in five minutes. Again, do this once a week. Here’s why: it’s easy to get side-tracked on social media. Before you know it, your feed is over-run with cat posts or similar. That’s OK; it happens to everyone and doesn’t do any harm as long as you know it’s happening.
Research your advertising: test your ads and try new things
Are you advertising your books? If you are, spend a few minutes each week testing ad variations. Some ad services make this easy with A/B testing. You can run your own tests. Change the ad copy (be sure to add the time and date) and take screenshot images of the ads when they’re ready to go.
Essential: wait to get enough clicks on the ads you’re testing. How many clicks are enough? Aim for 300.
Research other authors’ ads. What kinds of ads are they running? Try new advertising venues too. Some authors are getting good results from Pinterest.
Book marketing research is essential
In marketing, things change quickly. What worked yesterday may not work as well today—or at all.
Your research efforts will help you to sell more books, because you’ll discover what works for you. You’ll also discover what works for others.
Use your research. Experiment. Who knows? You may be able to find new ways to promote your books, or a new market for your books.
Aim to spend five minutes a day on your research. It mounts up.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.