I’m watching our goat Elvira waddle through the pasture this morning. Her belly shifts right and left, carried forward by sticks of legs. She is beautiful but anything but graceful.
I feel quite a bit like Elvira this morning – waddling into the day on too little sleep and far too little downtime. It’s one week to my book launch, and I can honestly say, I’m giving it all I’ve got . . . and I’m waddling as a consequence. (Picture me–yoga pants, t-shirt, and a Doctor Who bathrobe–waddling around as I brew the coffee this morning.)
Here are 5 things I’m trying out for this book launch:
- I’m looking carefully at the categories for the online retailers. Taking the advice of many wise book marketers, I spent some significant time analyzing categories using this great new tool that was recommended by Nick Stephenson. The tool is called Kindle Spy, and it enables you to analyze the sales figures, the keywords, and the competitiveness of books in any particular Amazon category. Super, super helpful and easy to use.
- I’m looking at pricing carefully – with sales figures AND customer access in mind. The other night I was looking for something light and fun to read on my e-reader, and I kept checking out authors I loved. Most of their books were far too pricey for an e-reader – $15, $13, $16 -(and those prices are set by traditional publishers) so I’m being sure to price my e-books reasonably. The same with my print books. A YA novel like Steele Secrets needs to be a bit less expensive than an adult book because of the audience.
- I’m looking more broadly at social media. My social media allegiance is with Facebook. It’s the first network I joined. I understand it’s quirks, and most of my friends are on there. BUT I realize that other people – particularly younger people, who are, after all, the primary audience for my new book – use other tools. So I’m trying to be more deliberate about marketing with tools like tumblr and Instagram and Wattpad.
- I’m stretching beyond Amazon with deliberate focus. I’ve always had my books available on Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble, but this time, I’m really working to make those sales channels as robust as possible. I’m using Smashwords as my distributor there, and I’m taking advantage of some of their tools especially, including the fact that I can upload my book trailer there. I’m doing this because not everyone loves Amazon, of course, but research is also telling me that these platforms have more reach outside of the U.S., and I’d LOVE to sell books around the world. (Just the idea of a teenager in Angola reading one of my books makes me smile.)
- I’m allowing myself to really see that my books could be a significant source of my income. This is a really new thing for me. I’ve always thought of my books as “bonus” money, and while I realize that I’ll always need (and want) to edit and do manuscript reviews and work with writers on their books in lots of ways, I would also love to have more time to write more books. And book sales may just be the way to do that. (Stay tuned – one change I’ll be making in the next few months is shifting my books to their own website that will focus on the history and legacy of slavery as well as my own writing about those subjects.)
My Book Marketing Teachers
The things I’m trying come directly from some of the reading and listening I’m doing about book marketing, and so here are some of the folks I’m tuning into more:
- Jane Friedman – If you’ve ever talked book marketing or publishing with me before, you know I ALWAYS recommend Jane. She’s insightful, balanced, and wise. Check her out here.
- Nick Stephenson – I have had an opportunity to take a sneak peak at Nick’s AMAZING course, Your First 10,000 Readers, and I’m totally blown away. Really. It’s so helpful and practical, and it’s brimming with information and resources. Right now, you can sign-up for his FREE video serious about how to garner more readers. Sign-up for that series here, and you’ll get information about his course, Your First 10,000 Readers, which I HIGHLY recommend.
- Joanna Penn – In the first few months after I quit my full-time professor’s position to write full-time, Joanna Penn was the writer I turned to for advice and wisdom. Her webinars are so helpful, and her podcasts are fun and informative. Check her out here.
- Tim Grahl – Grahl’s book Your First 1,000 Copies gave me a great foundation for all these things, and he’s wise and honest about what he teachers. Visit his site here and subscribe to his newsletter – totally worth it.
- Ed Cyzewski – Ed is a dear friend, and he’s been a constant coach for me in this book marketing craziness. He introduced me to Joanna Penn and Tim Grahl, and his wisdom and easy-going and measured approach to book marketing keeps me in check when I want to do ALL THE THINGS NOW. You can learn more about Ed here.
I still have so much to learn – SO MUCH – but I’m hoping these tools and experiments will guide me as I sell books and help me carve more writing time, which is – after all – what most of us want, right?
Pardon me, I need to waddle back to the coffee pot for more fuel. 🙂
How about you? What book marketing strategies have you found to be effective? Less effective? Any teachers you’d recommend for this complex work?
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I’m paid a bit of cash if people buy them.