Some authors feel that marketing is like trying to read Greek. They think that it’s so incredibly complicated that they don’t even try doing it in the first place. That’s an incredible mistake, especially since being an author these days is half creative and half business.
When it comes down to it, marketing is actually very simple. There’s a formula the most successful authors in the world use to get their books out into many readers’ hands. Once you learn and master that formula, you too can be just as if not more successful. Here is the four-step process to promote your books:
The problem with the “write more books” system of book marketing is that it fails to fulfill the first step of most successful promotion plans. It skips over the part where you connect with your readers. The authors who are making a killing in this business are the ones who have a great system set up to connect with their readers.
We’ve covered email marketing over and over again on the Author Marketing Institute, but connection can take many forms beyond email alone. When you share who you are and what you care about with your readers, not everybody will come on board, but many of them will follow you for the rest of your writing career. That is more than enough of a reason for you to start opening up to your fans.
Share bonus content with your subscribers. Film yourself reading your book or talking about the themes of your series. There are countless things you can do to connect, but all of them require you to take action.
Once you’ve made that first connection with your readers, they want to interact with you and your work. Since you can’t spend 40 hours a week on Facebook, one of the best ways to give back to your readers is to provide them with new stories, behind-the-scenes posts, and other things that will make them fans for life.
Put yourself in your fans’ shoes. Imagine that you’re on the email list for one of your favorite authors. What would that author have to give you for your lifetime devotion? Would it be first access to a new short story featuring classic characters? Would it be a ticket to an exclusive event at a local bookstore? When you look at things from this perspective, it’s easy to think of dozens of things you could give your readers.
This point in the promotional process isn’t even about selling yet. It’s about giving. If you give stories and time to your readers, then you’ll forge some deep and lasting connections with these people.
Here’s where the asking comes into play. After you’ve connected with your readers and provided them with great content, you’ve finally gotten to the point where you can ask them to buy your books. So many authors skip steps one and two, that it’s almost comical.
Why would you buy something from someone you don’t trust? Just because someone has joined your email list, doesn’t mean they’re willing to fork over 20 bucks. The connecting and asking stages of the process build the trust you need to be able to ask your readers to buy your book for the first time. Asking is the third step for a reason.
It’s common practice to connect and “give” at least five times for every one ask. If you fail to strike that balance, then it’s very likely you’ll get a ton of unsubscribes and you won’t get nearly as many sales as you’d hoped for.
4. Repeat Steps 1-3
Fortunately for you and all other authors trying out this formula, this is something that can be repeated over and over again. Even the top selling authors of today know how important it is to connect and give before they ask. When you have a new product coming out, you shouldn’t go into ask mode for an entire month. It’s all about maintaining that balance between providing value and requesting payment for your work.
Practice Makes Permanent
It’s going to take some time for you to get this formula right. It’s a good thing that you’re just starting out in the effort to connect with new fans. By the time you have hundreds or thousands of true fans at your beck and call, you’ll be an expert at this simple but effective promotional formula.