This is dedicated specifically to writers or those who are aspiring to be writers. If this isn’t your thing, feel free to skip. 🙂
The best marketing strategy in the world is word of mouth.
And we have no control over it. We can’t control who reads our books. We can’t control who likes our books. We can’t control who mentions our books to other people.
Social media and newsletters are not about selling books. They are about building your brand.
Your brand is who you are. It’s the whole package. It’s what you say, it’s what you do, and it’s what you write. These all get rolled up into a ball that gives people the overall view of you. Your brand inadvertently leads to sales. So yes, you should be active and promote because it leads people to your books.
Social media is a good place to get to know people. I wouldn’t make this a “sales pitch” arena. The sales pitch comes on the day of a book’s release or on an ad. If you’re using Facebook, MeWe, Twitter, Instagram, etc as a daily billboard to tell people you have books they can buy, you’re wasting your time. Add something of value. Participate. Share jokes. I like to share jokes because it’s good to laugh. Things are far too serious on social media with the onslaught of political posts out there. I’ve had to hide some people’s posts because I couldn’t take the drama anymore. My favorite posts are those that lift people up and make them feel better. I don’t go on social media to get upset. I go there to relax. As an author, think about the message you want to send. How do you want others to feel when they see your name? Social media connects your name with a certain kind of emotion. What emotion do you want others to have when they see your name?
I know there are email lists, but not every writer wants to spend time coming up with “fresh and new” content to share with their list a couple times a month, which is what seems to be the frequency needed in order for email lists to be effective. I’m not any good at coming up with fun and interesting emails about my personal life or about cute animals or whatever. Some authors have a knack for this. I’m not one of them. So I don’t do them. If you happen to be an author who does this, it might be a good option to help build relationships with your readers. But if the idea of having an email list gives you the hives, then you’re better off focusing on another marketing strategy that you enjoy. For me, it’s blogging. I love to blog. So I do that instead of an email list.
Ads are a way to sell books, but be careful about how you do them.
I think ads are mostly effective on your most popular free books. Free still works, but it has to be utilized effectively. It’s best if the free book leads to other books you write. If you can cross the free book to paid books, that’s ideal. If you write all standalones, free can still be good. I found a couple of authors that way. But I would use ads on the free book(s) that is already performing the best. That way, you’re using your strongest asset to reach new people.
That all aside, I think it’s important to look at two things when paying for ads. 1. Make sure you can afford them. Don’t go into debt to buy ads. If you start burying yourself into a hole by buying ads with the hope you’ll yield a profit later, later may never come. Also, the more debt you go into, the harder it’s going to be to dig your way out. 2. Make sure you’re not throwing money into ads that aren’t yielding a return. Do the time to study the numbers. Which ads paid off? Which didn’t? Ditch the ones that don’t do you any good. You don’t want to lose your profit. Your profit is how you’ll be able to pay for an editor or a cover artist in the future. You need that money in order to stay in the black.
The best use of your time is writing the next book.
This is going to sound ridiculous to most people, but writing a good book is the very best way to sell books because if someone loves your book, they’re going to tell others about it. Fortunately, writing your book is something that is fully under your control. You can do social media, newsletters, and ads to lead people to your book, but if your book isn’t satisfying to the reader, you did all of that other work for nothing. Your books have to sell themselves. They have to attract people. And fortunately, you have the ability to create a story that compels people to keep turning the page.
This is why a writer’s time is best spent on the next book. My advice is to do more writing than marketing. If people like your book, they will want to read more books, and if they want to read more books, they might end up telling other people that your books exist. The quality of your book will lead to word of mouth.
It’s a slow process. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not exciting. No writer in the indie community is going to be jumping up and down with enthusiasm because they’re told to focus on writing the next book because word of mouth is the best marketing strategy out there. They’re looking for a magic formula they can use to guarantee sales right now. The truth is, there is no magic formula.
Alright, that’s all I got on marketing. If anyone has thoughts they’d like to add, I’d be happy to hear them. 🙂