With nearly 150,000 new books published per year in the UK there is a flood of new titles clamouring for attention all the time. And that’s before we get to all the titles that are self-published. Whether fiction or non-fiction, there is an enormous amount of competition for the eyeballs (and wallets) of readers. Here’s 5 ideas of how to tip the odds in your favour.
1. Start as early as possible
Ideally you should begin thinking about marketing your book before you even write it.
The longer the lead time you have, the more time you have to raise awareness of your book.
It’s like the old saying about trees: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.
So start now to plan out how you can find and foster readers for your book.
2. Define who your target reader is
Who is going to be interested in your book? What are the themes or subject matter? Who might be interested in that? What other books is it similar to? What genre(s) does it fit into? Who reads those genres?
The more you can narrow your target audience down, the easier it will be to reach them.
I always cringe when people say their books are ‘for everyone.’
And even if everyone was interested in your book, how would you reach them all?
Let me give you an example: if you wanted to knock on every door in London and tell people about your book, how long would it take you? You would either have to hire a team to help you (which you likely can’t afford) or you would have to accept that it would take you a massive amount of time to go from one side of London to the other knocking on every door.
What if you decided to just target West London? That would help. It would be a little more achievable, but still a mammoth job.
What if you decided that the people who would most enjoy your spy novel were expats who travel a lot and live in Notting Hill or Chiswick so they can be close to Heathrow? That starts to sound a bit more manageable.
After you look at it more closely maybe you decide that the Chiswick crowd is more aligned with your main character and would be more relatable. You could take the one year (minimum) it would take you to knock just once on every door in London and instead spend one year really targeting Chiswick, knocking on doors several times (people aren’t always home), dropping flyers through letter boxes, doing readings in local coffee shops, getting to know the independent book shops, offering a workshop at the community centre related to your book…. Can you see how this would have so much more impact?
A narrow niche is your best friend when you have a limited marketing budget.
Go narrow and go deep!
3. Pick 1-3 channels and work them hard
You don’t need to be everywhere at once. By that I mean there is no need to be on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube etc all at once. In fact, it’s a much better strategy to pick 1-3 channels (think of which ones you like the best and which ones are most suited to your target audience) and commit to really showing up and being present on those select channels.
A couple of Social Media channels, with a strong presence from you, is going to go a lot further to getting word out about your book than to be flitting about like a gadfly from one to the other and not really ever registering on anyone’s radar.
Go deep. Or go home.
And don’t think that your marketing channels have to only be social media. Old school tactics, like posters, flyers, mailers, readings, book launch parties, festivals (literary or otherwise) really do make a difference because people are so saturated with online life that it’s harder and harder for things to register. Get in their face in the real world and it can have a lot more impact.
Email is great. So is sending out (mailing) postcards and even letters! There’s something to be said for zigging when everyone else is zagging.
[For more ideas on how to use social media as a marketing tool – download my free Ebook, Keep The Conversation Going: 65 Social Media Strategies for Performing Artists]
4. Keep searching for new angles
Keep looking for new angles to promote your book. What activities do your characters get up to? Do they cook? Drink too much wine? Test drive cars? Sail the Solent? – Whatever it might be, look for ways you can connect with an audience who are interested in these things too. Find a readership who have similar interests to your characters.
Look for new audiences who might appreciate your unique voice. Talk to them. Offer to read to them from your book.
With open eyes and a creative mind, there are opportunities to talk about your book everywhere. And it’s only by repeatedly showing up in the world, telling people about your book and encouraging them to be part of your community, that you will find the readers you deserve.
5. Ask for help
Not sure how to do something? Ask for help!
Writers are especially generous people. I’ve yet to find one who isn’t willing to share what he or she has learned. If you have a lot of questions, or are looking to gain inside knowledge, you might have to be willing to pay them for their expertise (take a class, do some coaching, buy their book) but the information is there and easy to find, if you ask for assistance.
Twitter is a great place to ask for help. Writers are very forthcoming with links and information.
Anything can be figured out. Whatever the next step is that is holding you back from a thriving readership (and a decent income from your writing) you can find a way to overcome it. I promise you.
Got a tricky question? Ask in the comments box below and we’ll try to answer it for you.
Are you in or around London?
Want some help putting together a marketing plan that will have your books dancing off the shelves?
Join me and best-selling author A. L. Michaels (who sometimes guest blogs for us here at The Thriving Creative) on Saturday 27 September 2014 in Central London, just off Tottenham Court Road, for a packed day of marketing advice on how to get your books into the hands of readers. We’ll also have a special Q&A session with a London publisher. So that’s 3 experts ready to help you find a path to selling your work as a writer.
And until 17 Sept – it’s on sale for only £49.
Hurry as it’s filling up quickly.
To join us, click on the poster below.