Continuing our look at how an author starts the basic process of marketing…
Fourth, you already know this, and it may seem to simple, but you really need a good website. For some reason there’s been a movement in writing circles about websites being passe. I disagree — a site will give readers a way to find out about you and get introduced to your books. But don’t scrimp here. If you can, work with a pro to get a great web site — something interactive, that puts you in touch with your readers and keeps conversation going. Be sure to include an online store, so that interested readers can buy your books (either directly from you or linked to a web retailer like Amazon or Barnes&Noble.com). I frequently see author sites with no way to purchase books.
Fifth, you might need a blog too. It’s not absolutely essential, in that many successful writers don’t keep a blog because they have all their conversations via the website. But if you can create the time to keep it going, consider it. Our culture is in love with interaction, and a blog allows the reader to feel that they get into your life. And that means you’re going to visit other people’s blogs — in fact, you’ll probably want to visit a lot of them. When you’re promoting your book, you’re going to want to participate in as many social media interviews as you can. You’ll go on as your book is releasing, answer questions from people, and chat up your work. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of reading group and book review blogs. It may seem tedious, but you’re going to want to hit as many of them that fit your audience. And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. Once you’re hearing from people on your blog, you need to go back and connect with them, so that you begin having an online relationship.
Sixth, take steps to help get your site known. People will sign up if you offer them a free product of value at no cost — a short story or a special report or a special deal. It can’t just feel like marketing content — you’ve got to actually give people something they want. And in doing so, you capture their email addresses. This isn’t something you can do overnight… but imagine being able to tell your publisher, “I’ve got ten thousand devoted readers who have signed up for my e-zine every quarter.” That shows you’ve got a lot of readers. And, of course, when your book releases, you’ve got to tell all those people about it, and give them some sort of incentive to buy today.
Again, to do this, you’ve actually got to have something of value to give away. Words, thoughts, or something else. So… what would you give away? I was just reading about a woman doing a novel about Ireland. She asked people to sign up for her e-zine (they had to give their name and email address), and she promised that when her novel released, she was holding a drawing and one lucky winner was going to win a trip to Ireland. She got thousands of subscribers. Let’s say a couple hundred of them bought her book when it came out. So she made several hundred dollars in royalties, and a ticket from New York to Dublin is only about $400. Sure, the author had to make the investment, but it didn’t end up costing her much, and the word-of-mouth marketing that came from it was great.
So a question for you… What have been the two most essential marketing steps in your own writing career?