I see a lot of small publishing companies and book publicity “experts” offering book marketing packages that look something like this:
- Standard Author website
- Fan e-mail list for your website
- Social media accounts with weekly updates (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+)
- Search engine optimization
- Book listing on Goodreads, Shelfari, and other book listing sites
- Amazon book promotion and management
- News release service – 1 blast
- 100 business cards
- 100 bookmarks
- Weekly reports
But that’s not book marketing. That’s just a platform. Those are bare minimum things that yes, you should probably do. However, all that gives you is equal shelf space, shared with thousands of other authors. With those elements you’re “in business.” You can hand out business cards. You can write articles on your blog. You can show up in search engines (but probably only if someone is searching for your name or the name of your book – and nobody is going to do that if they don’t know who you are). Book lists on book sites won’t do hardly anything, because there are tens of thousands of books.
“News release services” or Press Releases won’t do shit for you unless you have a powerful story (publishing a book is not a story). Social media is a good idea, but what are they posting? Are they creating content or curating content that your target readers would enjoy? Are they interacting with people?
Aggressively following others with similar tastes and interests? Just having accounts won’t do anything to sell books, you need to make relationships. An email list needs to be set up, sure, but do you have an optin offer that anybody wants? Just how standard is that “standard” author website? It’s got to be pretty clean and nice for people to trust and like you (not to mention, load really fast, be easy to navigate, and have loads of awesome content).
If you build it,
they will come nobody will come
Be very, very cautious about paying for marketing packages like this. Although yes, you kind of need all of those things AFTER your book is successful and people are searching for you, you don’t really need any of those things before. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a bunch of stuff that’s not going to sell your book at all, focus on driving people straight to Amazon with targeted Facebook advertisements, advertising on relevant blogs or sites that attract readers who enjoy your niche or genre. You do kind of need a website, because if done well it can be used in a successful marketing funnel.
But a crappy website that doesn’t have great content won’t do anything for you (actually it can hurt sales more than help them!) Guest posting on bigger blogs is far more effective; do a massive launch with quality guest posts, free or low pricing, lots of buzz and advertisements in the same week, and you can’t help hitting #1 in your category – and you can do it pretty easily for a couple hundred books. (In fact I’m going to start offering a book launch package soon that guarantees results like this).
All that other stuff that book marketing and small presses are selling for a couple grand? It’s pure vanity; that’s why those guys will never guarantee results like #of sales or increased sales rank (I’ll be able to guarantee both). Focus on SELLING books. PS) One more thing: every kind of marketing you try will fail if you don’t have an amazing book cover. Getting a better book cover is the first and often the only place you need to spend money.
The “Blog Tour” scam
There are millions of blogs and websites on the internet, and they are not all equal. Some blogs get a lot of traffic. Some don’t get any. Some blogs are respected by Google and have a lot of trust and authority. Some aren’t. Before you pay for a “Blog Tour” that promises to feature your book on 20 sites, find out which sites they are, and run some simple tests. How much traffic do they get a month? How many people will see the article? How many people will click the links and buy your book?
I’ve seen blog tours range from $20 to $1000. Consider that you can get in front of 1000+targeted people on Facebook for around $20. Will the blog tour perform better than advertising? How do you know if you don’t have all the data? Find out. Ask for details. Give them a different link for each blog so you can measure how effective it was. My educated guess, however, is that blog tours don’t work. People don’t hang out on websites that post banal crap about any book that pays them. People want curated content, not advertisements. People who take your money to organize blog tours probably don’t know anything about internet marketing or what it really takes to sell books. They are just selling what they know how to do.
Some blog tours may be well worth the money, but again… I doubt it, because blogs that have an engaged readership can’t be bought.
I’m a blogger – but you can’t pay me to promote your book on my website, because that would kill the trust I’m building with my readers.
You might be able to pitch me a great story, that I could share, if it was really interesting and my readers would enjoy it (though I don’t accept “guest posts” I might share the news). And that’s exactly what you need to focus on doing, because it’s so much more powerful.