What to do when you find yourself having to market something when you've never marketed before.
In an ironic twist of Fate, I honestly never wanted to be a marketer. Marketing and sales always seemed so daunting to me and I don't like bothering people more than I have to. That's why, when it came to having published my first book, my friends and family were really the only ones to buy it.
I'm sure many of your have similar stories. You put in all this time and effort only to come out of it with a few dozen sales and the question: This is excellent, why am I not a full time author, yet?
Well, it's simple. You didn't continue to push it to the public like you should have. But more than that, you likely didn't do any pre-release marketing, either.
"What? Pre-release marketing? I'm supposed to do that?"
That's right! And don't feel bad, I didn't know that either when I first started out. The kicker here is that pre-release marketing is what will eventually sell your work and turn you into a professional, full time whatever it is you wanna be.
Pre-release marketing is actually what will get you in the door when it comes to traditional publishers, too. In a world where it seems like the big guys should be doing all the hard labor, companies actually want their side of the process to be as easy as possible. That means minimal labor for more money.
And we all know how powerful the Almighty Dollar is in this day and age.
But for all of you completely thrown for a loop here, let me help you out: It's all a numbers game.
It's all a numbers game.
What I mean by that is that you don't have to specifically have a following for your book, but you do have to have a following.
So, how does that look for the novice marketer? Say you start an Instagram account that focuses solely on food blogging. You are religious about posting on this account every single day. Sometimes, multiple times a day.
Enough that you've built a 5,000 person following.
Now, you've written a book. Maybe it's nothing to do with food, but you already have 5,000 potential readers waiting for you. Maybe you post a picture of a beautiful dish next to the cover of your book. Perhaps you use the tag #bookstagram amongst your other food-related tags.
If it's beautiful, people will notice and be more likely to pick up the book because it's displayed next to the food that they normally like to see come across their dash.
If you don't have social media to market from, I must suggest you get at least one of them. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the top contenders, and you'll have better sales if you utilize the platform.
For me, I post reading material to different reader-based and writer-based groups on Facebook. On Instagram, I've found drawings of my characters go over very well with the masses and tend to gain the most new followers for me. And Twitter is an excellent way to connect with other writing professionals, such as agents, editors, and other authors.
However you engage your audience, just be sure that it is a regular occurrence. You want people to see your name often and begin to associate your posts with a specific thing. And as you continue to make that name for yourself, you've suddenly gotten into Branding.
And branding is exactly where you want to be. As soon as you have word association with your name or image, you have instant internet searchability. People will be able to look you up based on vague descriptions like "Book Food Insta Post" and there's a high probability that your post will be one of the ones that pops up.
Now, let's say you still don't want to do your own marketing, or better yet, you don't have enough time to do your own marketing because you've launched into the stratosphere of success! If this is you, there's hope.
Step One: Hire a Marketer
Simple as it sounds, this is often vastly overlooked when it comes to delegating tasks and getting stuff done in a productive manner. But if you don't have the time to market, and you don't have the money to hire a marketer, this offer may still remain on the table for you.
If you have a skill or service that you specialize in, offer up a trade. Bartering is still an excellent way of getting what you need and giving something back in return. This is where social media comes in handy, as well. Find a group that has networking professionals and do an outreach for potential candidates.
Be sure to write a contract for the services exchanged, though. We are still professionals, and everyone should be on the same page and have guidelines to adhere to.
Step Two: Schedule Your Posts in Advance
This step only really works well on Facebook as far as I've found, but it's also a lifesaver! I have a day at the beginning of each week where I schedule my posts that will show up to either update, help, or attract more followers to my pages as relate to my pages.
This is an important distinction from Instagram, too. When you build a page for something, say your authorship, you want to be sure that all of the posts that show up there are about your writing, the writing community, tips for other writers, and the like.
For me, I have a page for Trust in Timing, one for my own authorship, my personal page, and a facebook group called Fiction Writers. Each of these, except the personal page, have the option to schedule posts, but I make sure that I'm not double posting on all of my pages everyday. The schedule is nice because it allows me to send something out from a different page everyday, so my followers are still seeing me, they just aren't being overloaded by me.
Step Three: Post Content People Care About
No, people don't usually care about that time you visited Indiana (unless you took *really amazing* photos while you were there), but people do care about dogs, cats, art, inspirational quotes, tropical vacation pics, etc.
You can get involved with more people if you post things that people like. It's relatively easy to do, go in and see what's trending and post accordingly. Maybe display your book next to your model cat, or have a picture of it next to a beautiful beach.
Basically, use these things to your advantage.
And at the end of the day, be sure you aren't just selling things. Your products should contribute to society, too. Even if it's just entertainment.
Lexi Mohney is a self published author and a book coach living in Ann Arbor, MI. Throughout her writing and coaching career, she's lived by the motto of courage and worked with her own coaches, groups, and support system to see her Big Audacious Dreams come true so she can help others achieve success, too. She's currently got a novel up for an award that will be determined in June, and is in the process of querying agents for her latest novel, Soulkind, which is the first in the Soul Hunter Series. For any and all questions pertaining to her work, contact her through her website or find her on social media.