One of the things Jennifer and I love to do is help self-published authors learn how to better market and sell their books. From our own personal experience, we know how difficult (and expensive) it can be. Part of the reason why we started Relevant Pages Press was to bring together like-minded self-published authors who wanted to work together to market and sell not only their books, but each other’s books as well. We believe that a collaborative approach is one of the keys and author can use to build a strong framework for success.
An additional key to success is the plan an author has for their book. We have seen that, generally, authors seem to fall into two categories: those who are happy simply to have published a book, and those who want to try to make a living with their writing. Neither plan is better than the other, but they do have very different outcomes.
The author who is content to write and publish their book but has no desire to create a plan for selling their book and consistently implementing that plan will most likely never see a return on their initial investment to publish their book (see my previous post: The Real Costs of Self-Publishing), nor will they be able to receive any recognition outside of their friends and family for all their hard work.
However, the author who works just as smartly to create a plan to sell their book as they do to write and publish their book will see a much greater level of success. We call these writers Authorpreneur: Authors who build a business out of their writing.
Your book is a product that needs to be sold, like any other product on the market. If you want it to be successful, you will need to compete with the other authors in your market and their books. This marketplace competition is healthy: it requires us as writers to push to improve our craft, to try different ways to get our work noticed, and to step out of our comfort zones and engage with our potential readers. All of this creates a greater chance for success in selling our books.
Most new writers seem to balk at this notion. The writing and publication process are difficult and at the end they want to cheer, take a big sigh of relief and declare “I’m Done!” The problem is that, really, it’s all just beginning.
Here are a few ideas to help you move from Author to Authorpreneur:
Research what successful authors in your genre are doing. Make a list of ideas they are using to sell their book that spark your creativity and then personalize them to fit your book.
Seek to understand what motivates your target audience. Where do they hang out? What social media outlets do they use? How are they defined? Knowing this information can help with number 3.
Add value to your readers. Gaining reader’s trust is essential before you ever launch your book. You can add value by sharing relevant tips, sharing snippets of your work that may be of value to your readers, and creating free downloads for example.
Develop a social media platform. It is essential to engage with your readers and social media is the easiest (and cheapest) way to do so. Create a Facebook group for your target audience, retweet your followers, pin images and articles to Pintrest boards your readers may find interesting or helpful. Post to Periscope. Wherever your readers are most likely to be is where you want to focus your efforts.
Create branding for you and your book. Just as a cover design is essential to your book, so too is consistent brand-messaging about your book to your readers. Use the same image and profile name (if possible) across the social media platforms you use. Create and Author Profile on Facebook. Name Pintrest boards after your book, themes in your book, or even chapters in your book. Send out tweets with the same hashtag (#).
Secure a domain name and build a website. Social media is free because you don’t own the “real estate.” Social media sites can change their terms at any time. Websites and the coveted email subscriber list however are yours to use responsibly in both adding value to your readers and soliciting them to purchase your book. Both are necessary to market successfully.
Develop a Launch team who will help spread the word about your book. Identifying and inviting a group of readers who will read your book, write a review, share information and their insights about it across their social media platforms and otherwise help spread the word are an invaluable asset for any author.
Put yourself out there. Research and request permission to publish individual pieces based on samples or themes from your book wherever you can both while writing and once your book is published. Request interviews on podcasts and radio programs that focus on your target audience.
Moving from Author to Authorpreneur is as much work as it sounds. But, the reward of making a living from your writing can be well worth your efforts.
What tips for growing your Author business do you have?