When I finished my first book, I set up a contest and giveaway to entice book reviews. Then I created an email list of about 1000 blogs I thought might be interested, and emailed them all about it. I asked them to pass on the good news to their readers.
I later found out that I may have done more harm than good: people want to read a book because it’s a good book.
Setting up a reward or enticement makes reading your book seem like a chore.
I read a comment on somebody else’s blog how turned off they were by my marketing efforts, because it seemed so polished and glossy and professional (I thought those were good things!).
Marketing is Dead
People don’t want to be marketed to. They don’t trust anyone promoting themselves or their own products. They want to hear about it from disinterested 3rd parties. That means that a lot of your marketing efforts are not only useless, they may even be harmful.
Joel Friedlander has a great post (Yo, Author, You Spamming Me?? Cut it Out!) about how much spam indie authors are producing.
Basically, if you are emailing someone you don’t know about your book, then you are spamming them.
Here’s Joel’s advice:
When you’re itching to just let every single person in your email account know you’ve just published a book, DON’T. Try to find the readers who are actually interested.
But how then, should you market your books?!
Effective book marketing is no about making a lot of online friends. And surprise – you don’t make friends by talking about your book! Instead, you need to share a lot of useful content, help other people, and like and discuss their own posts and projects. “Do Unto Others” is the new golden rule of marketing and book promotion.
This might come easy to you, and it might not. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut. If you don’t want to invest the time getting to know other people, and helping them out, you shouldn’t expect anybody to do the same for you. It is a long term process, and it takes time, and it can’t be faked. (If you really don’t give a damn about others, and are just trying to be friendly so they can help you out, most people will see through it).
It also can’t be outsourced. This is something you need to do yourself.
The larger your own platform, the less you need other people. So if you’re posting a ton of free, valuable content on your blog, and you get lots and lots of visitors, you don’t need as much help from the key holders (those other people with a large following). Developing a great platform is also a lot of work, and also has to be genuine and personable.
The Bad News
Most authors might be thinking, “Crap! I don’t want to do all that stuff. I just want to write books!” And there are plenty of marketing and promotion consultants that promise to help authors out. Just pay them and they’ll do it for you. But wait – remember those things I said earlier about having to be genuine and personable?
I’m not saying that a book marketing consultant can’t help you out a lot – if you don’t want to do anything yourself and have the money, go for it. But I don’t think it will be nearly as effective as the other strategies above.
How not to be a Spammer – a checklist
The easiest thing to do is to just email everybody you know – that’s also a bad idea, and it’s lazy.
Before you contact anyone about your book, make sure you’ve done these things first:
1) You’ve emailed them a few other times about other things and gotten on their radar.
2) You provided them something useful, or helped them out somehow.
3) You are providing them with content (you should still do #1 and #2)
“Content” is not the fact that you have a book. It’s your hook or angle, or interesting story, about something amazing you’ve done. The “news” is YOU, not the book, and it’s your job to make that news shareworthy.
You can even write a great article yourself and offer to guest-post it on someone else’s site (very effective).
Once you have laid the ground, a few good emails might work wonders. You can even check back several times if you don’t hear anything back from them right away.
Just slow down and think it through.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.