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Why You Shouldn't Be Marketing or Advertising Your Book, just yet

So you've worked your fingers to the bone and finished that book. You feel on top of the world until it hits you. Now, what do I do with it? Sure, there's promotion and advertising that is left, but is that something you should be thinking about?

If you are thinking how hard could it possibly be? Well, if you hit the ground running –it can be possible to do it properly–if not then you’re going to find out that there is a lot more to selling a book than what initially meets the eye.

Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to selling books. They work for some authors, but I’ll also tell you that they do not work for everyone.

Paid ads on Facebook or Amazon, no doubt, are one of the basic components in the book sales paradigm but it is not a sure-shot way to attract new readers on a consistent basis.

When you publish your book using one of the platforms like Amazon KDP, the one thing that comes to mind is that Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world and it will help you put your books in front of millions of eager buyers.

Sadly that is too far from reality.

On Amazon or any other platform, while publishing is free, but to sell your books, you must have a marketing bone in your body, and if not then you should be eager to grow one.

But paying money to sell books is a temporary solution. And that is not even the biggest challenge that you will face.

The biggest challenge is to recoup your money spent on ads from your book sales.

And that my dear friend is no mean task.

But should you completely discard paid ads to sell your books or is there another strategy to do it successfully?

Let's find out.


But first, what is book marketing?

First, let me define what I do NOT consider as Book Marketing.

Book marketing is NOT designing a great cover, writing a great book blurb or building a nice-looking website.

Book marketing is having your book placed in front of the target readers. for example, hiring a publicist or using Facebook Ads to place your book in front of the right readers.

These are the methods that are used by both big companies and solopreneurs like authors, freelancers, or content marketers but as you can imagine, one has to spend money to earn money in this scenario.

And it is no secret that if you want to run ads, before earning any profit, you have to sustain losses.

Why book marketing does not always work

As I mentioned before, there is more to marketing than covers and book blurbs and reviews and websites and even if you did pay for ads, things still might not work out.

One of the reasons this happens is because authors think that selling their book on Amazon means just putting the book on that platform and it will do the rest.

As the name suggests, Amazon-it's a jungle out there and you need a strategy to constantly remind your readers and customers that you exist.

To do that, your marketing strategy should have relevant content and a personal brand that woos eager readers to open their wallets.

Pegging your hopes on social media has another danger. It is one thing to have followers and another thing to convert followers into buyers.

Social media's organic reach is dead and people follow you to feed their curiosity, not for you to spam them every hour or so with Amazon links and book covers asking them to buy this or that.

What about Facebook or Amazon ads?

They do work (again not for every book) but the conversion rate is low.

Book marketing for authors sometimes does not work because the author did not have an initial plan. You had no book launch followed by a zero marketing plan. People only buy what they have heard of. If you have an avatar of your readers then it shouldn't be difficult to make your book interesting for them to share with others.

My final reason is most authors assume that just because their book is interesting to them, everyone else will love it as well. The book world is vast and yours is a drop in the ocean. You must know your niche market.

You should not spend your money on Facebook or Amazon ads until you nail 3 elements of your books – Cover, Book Blurb, and Your Look Inside

It is not good to throw punches in the air. That's what many authors are doing when they go straight to Facebook or Amazon ads while several elements of their books are still not optimized.

The Book Cover

The first thing a potential buyer sees and reads is the book cover, so it’s important to ensure it does its job. The cover needs to stand out on the shelves and must convince readers that your book deserves their attention.

A book cover is the book’s billboard, and even without the reader or author knowing, it causes expectation. If a billboard is going to advertise the product, then that billboard must shout out loud to be noticed. The same thing applies to book covers. If a reader sees a book with an amateur cover, they’re going to believe that it’s also poorly written.

Today book design is such an important part of the overall package due to fierce competition in the publishing world. Authors can be lost in the pile with so many new books being put out every day, and a professional-looking book cover (and marketing material) can help you stand out and increase readership.

The Book Blurb

A blurb is a short book description jotted down for marketing reasons. It is normally 200 words.

A book blurb is a very important part of the writing process you need to understand.

Think of your blurb as an elevator pitch. If a stranger wanted to know more about your book, what would you say?

A reader can read a blurb and at that instant decide whether to buy the book or not. The mere fact that they are reading your blurb means they have a mild interest in finding out more about your book. They have some sort of interest to learn what your book is all about, but they are on the fence about whether they should go ahead with buying it or not. You don’t want them on the fence looking at other books, thus we need to get them back to our blurb and buy your book.

This is where writing an excellent blurb comes into play.

Your Backlist

One book is not enough to break into the world of bestsellers. If you want social media ads to work to your advantage then write another book.

This is great for brand building. Remember, people only buy what they have heard of. Compound the effect of greatness by writing your next book.

The money is in the backlist

Out of sight, out of mind so you need to ensure your readers find something fresh to sustain their interest in you as an author. With every new book, you release, your chances of getting noticed, increase.

Facebook and Amazon ads

You should not put money in ads that you cannot stand to lose as ads need a lot of testing before you build that super successful ad. Until then you need to spend some money on testing that you might never see back.

Facebook or Amazon ads for authors are powerful but you should work with a slow modus operandi. Authors can use ads for:

  • Book launches

  • Promotions

  • Cross series retargeting

  • Evergreen sales

  • Same-series retargeting

  • Building a mailing list

Want to learn more about Facebook ads - Check this ULTIMATE FACEBOOK ADS GUIDE FOR AUTHORS.

Ads or no Ads this is what you need to do first,

For Fiction, Nail Your

  • Cover and title

  • Book Blurb

  • Look inside content

  • Long series, and above all

  • A great story that can hook the readers to read more of your work in a genre that has enough readers that can offset your book marketing costs and turn them into a profit.

For Non-fiction Authors

  • Have a call to action in your book to bring your readers to sell more products on your website

  • Ads work if you have a call to action to upsell to readers

  • Have more than one book. Let them have something else to buy. Have a backlist to speak of.

Final Thoughts

For most self-published books, the number of sales that occur on the day of the release is actually quite small. Instead, authors usually need to continue promoting their book weeks and months after its initial launch in order to reach the widest possible audience. This means that authors should focus more on marketing their book rather than advertising it once it has been published. Your initial focus instead should be to collect email addresses from readers simply by offering something for free in exchange for contact information. This can be a free chapter, a promotional postcard or bookmark, possibly even an entire book sample. The only purpose is to acquire email addresses until you are able to promote your book to its full potential later.

And yes, book marketing and advertising are important, but doing it too early can actually hurt you. Instead of stressing about making your book as "promotable" as possible, focus on getting feedback from those who will be influencing your book's success - the readers. Trying to rely on those who picked up your book to market it can backfire if early feedback indicates you have a problem that needs fixing. Marketing your book will require time, money, and chances are you'll have to develop skills that may or may not come naturally to you.

If you want to sell books, give yourself a proper strategy, have a testing budget, and find out what truly works for you after taking care of the book's three core elements.

Want to learn more about Facebook ads - Check this ULTIMATE FACEBOOK ADS GUIDE FOR AUTHORS.



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