With the millions and millions of books out there, in a world where everyone can be an author, it can be difficult to get your book noticed. The old book marketing tactics and tricks are no longer working and book marketing is going to have to change. So how can you spread the word about your book or your message? It is not going to be by becoming a fake bestseller or by having thousands of unknown followers, or by offering your book for free anymore, but rather, by relating to and touching people personally. This is going to become the only way.
As of mid-January 2016, Amazon’s US ebook sales were running at a rate of just over one million paid downloads a day (http://authorearnings.com). The day that authorearnings.com pulled the data for their report, it was revealed 20 of Amazon’s overall Top 125 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles NOT ENROLLED in KDP Unlimited (Select).
Why Readers are No Longer Enticed by Freebies
Amazon KDP – It used to be that offering your book for free could gain you thousands of new readers, but this is no longer the case. Why? At the end of 2011, Amazon introduced KDP Select where authors could offer their books for free for up to 5 days every 3 months. This initially really helped authors to gain new readers as thousands of people downloaded a book during a free giveaway. I was one of the authors who signed up for KDP Select from its inception. During one of my first free giveaways 10,000 people downloaded my book. During the first year, between sales and freebies, 50,000 people had downloaded my memoir. What happened? As more and more authors discovered the power of KDP Select and joined up, the choice of free books became boundless. Websites dedicated to free Kindle books sprang up all over the place. Readers were spoiled for choice and started becoming much more selective of the free books they downloaded. Many people still have hundreds of free books on their Kindles that they never have the time to read. And suddenly, free books seemed less enticing. Just one more way to clutter up our devices, our lives. Reminding us of the things that we never have time to do.
Email Lists & Free Giveaways – Another tactic became popular in the marketing field. Authors were told that they need to grow their author platform and that one way to do this was by building up a large email subscriber list. Yes, I did all those courses. It was taught (and is still taught) that the best way to get people to sign up for your email list is to offer a free gift and all that visitors to your website need to do is to give their name and email address and the gift is theirs. People got excited. More freebies. Then slowly, every website they visited had a free gift to offer. And before they knew it, their inboxes were full of emails every day, so many that it was impossible to read them all. More clutter. More things reminding us that we don’t have enough time in one day. So we unsubscribe from most the email lists in an effort to simplify our lives.
The market is now flooded with freebies and they no longer impress anyone. I’m not saying that there is no value in offering genuine and helpful free resources and sharing ideas. However, growing your email subscriber list should NOT be your primary goal. Many of us have been wrongly taught that numbers make up an author platform. This is simply not true.
What is the New and Only True Book Marketing Method?
RELATIONSHIPS. The only way forward for book marketing is relationships. From my early days of book marketing in 2009 when I did my first course, I realized that many of the tactics I was taught would not work because they lacked one key ingredient. PERSONAL CONNECTION. It didn’t really matter how large your email subscriber list was, or how many followers you had on social media, if you never had any personal connection with any of them, it was irrelevant. Sure, literary agencies and publishing houses might still care about numbers, but I know that numbers are not the most important thing. One author can have a following of 10,000 and not sell one book to any of his followers; another author can have a following of 100, be personally connected with all of them, and sell 100 books. Who has the better platform?
Here is a little secret that you won’t learn in most marketing courses. In book marketing and promotion, numbers do not matter! Personal connection and relationships are the only things that matter.
I understood this from the beginning, but as all the old methods, tactics and tricks stop working, this is going to become the new and only true book marketing method. I recommend that you do not bother with any of the marketing courses that tell you that you can become an Amazon Bestselling Author or those that guarantee that you will sell thousands of books using their method. These methods are no longer working. The market is too flooded with ebooks, there’s just so much choice and I think people are now overwhelmed. There is no guarantee that your book is going to stand out, unless you have people who care about you and therefore, your book.
There are some marketing gurus who have and continue to offer great advice. Three of my favorites are Seth Godin, Jeff Goins and Lynn Serafinn. These are guys you can trust. And, in essence, they all say the same thing. Marketing is about relationships and building a tribe. A tribe is not just a large following; a tribe is a group of people who care about you because you have a relationship with them. I know most of my core tribe by name. I know who they are, and I know personal things about them. Many of their stories etched their way into my heart and I will always feel connected to them, and they with me. We are now online friends. It took me around two years to build most of my original tribe, and it continues to grow slowly. And although I may have hundreds of followers, my tribe is probably only 100 or so strong, but I know that I have 100 supporters out there, and they know they have me. Those 100 people will probably buy my next book and maybe each will tell a few friends who may tell a few more friends and so on. 100 sales can easily become 10,000 or more. And that is how you sell books. Not by any other scheme or plot. Not by harassing strangers. Not by having a huge social following. Not by faking an Amazon bestseller. Or any of the other tricks that marketers teach. You sell books one book at a time, to people who care.
Don’t just see people as a means to an end. The relationship is the end. – Jeff Goins
So How Does This Way of Marketing Work?
One person at a time. Social media is great for this, but sadly, most people use social media in the wrong way… as a foghorn. Trumpeting their wares in the faces of their followers, who by the way, hardly ever see any of their posts. Followers on Facebook only see the posts of people or pages that engage with them. You can read more about this here. I encourage my clients to be more real on Facebook. Start sharing about your family, your worries, your bad day, even if you are a life coach or an inspirational speaker. People don’t actually want positive quotes all the time. That won’t allow them to get to know you personally. And that is the goal. Write a post about losing your favorite pet and see how many people respond! Obviously, you’ll only do this if you did lose a favorite pet! Put up an inspirational quote and see how many people respond. Look at the difference. People want to know you; they want to relate to who you are. They want to know that you are a human being, just like they are. I think memoir authors, such as myself, have an upper hand here. After reading a memoir, the reader feels as if they already know the author. There is often an instant connection. If you are not a memoir author, you need to use social media or blogging to let people know more about you, to know your story. The author behind the book. That sells! Not the book. It is YOU who the reader is buying, you the author, sometimes more than the book. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Goodreads are four of the top places for authors to make personal connections on social media when used in the correct manner. Pinterest is fun and can be helpful if you have good content to share that will lead people back to your website or blog, which in turn will allow them to get to know you more. That’s another thing. If you have a blog, make it personal! If you have a website, don’t make your ABOUT ME page read like a bio or curriculum vitae. Let the reader get to know you. Use every possible avenue available to you to share yourself with the world, to make new friends. How else can you connect with people? Google Hangouts and other such avenues, radio interviews, blogging and so on are also great ways for people to get to know you. But remember to be real and be yourself. That is one of the things that everyone loves about Jeff Goins. After reading his blog for a short while, I felt like I knew him. He puts his soul into his posts. He is transparent and real. That is what you want people to feel about you. And by the way, a social media manager, which just about everyone has these days, is not going to be able to do this for you as they are not trained in this type of connection and even if they are, like I am, it doesn’t work. The author still does not have any connections, even though it may look like it. They don’t know that one of their friends lost a child last week, or that another just published their first book and yet another’s firstborn just got married. The SMM knows this, but hardly has the time or the reason to care, because they are being paid to put up pretty posts and gain more followers. Sure, it might sell a few books, but not in the way that it would if the author themselves was personally involved in social media and knew their friends, really knew them and really connected with them. Start by caring about and supporting other people and you’ll be surprised how quickly you start making friends.
Many people say they don’t have the time or the patience for this type of marketing. They want a quick fix. A quick bestseller. They want to make money. Well this is not going to happen. If you want people to know about your product, they first have to know you. Relationship building only needs to take about an hour a day. Engage in genuine conversations, care about your audience, be interesting, tell stories, and build relationships! Relationship is the new book marketing method. And… it is actually fun!