Marketing 101- The Basics
This is the start of a four part series called marketing 101 written by a self-published author who has been through the process.
Part one – The Basics
Marketing is a necessary evil. It’s something that I never gave much serious consideration when I set out on the journey of self-publishing. If you think that you won’t have to do any marketing if you’re fortunate enough to land a publishing contract, think again. It is pervasive, important, and somewhat terrifying – but, if you want to sell books, it is essential.
What is marketing?
As a basic concept, it is an exchange of an idea to a person with the intent of enticing the satisfaction of needs and/or desires.
The raw elements:
- the person or business who is doing the marketing (for this discussion, that is you – the author),
- the object/construct that is being marketed (the book(s)),
- and the target market (your prospective readers).
We are not selling essential products. We are not attempting to satisfy the survival needs of our fellow humans (food, water, e.t.c.) – although some might argue that they cannot live without reading material. What we are trying to sell is art. Like it or not, writing is an art form, something that is highly subjective and the enjoyment of reading is entirely personal. I don’t care what kind of book or story you have written, there are a lot of people out there who will hate it. What we want to achieve, through marketing, is narrowing down the entire human race into a collection of people more likely to enjoy reading your book than those who are not.
Where does market research begin?
For me, I have two genres, erotica and steampunk. Defining the books into a genre category is the first step towards narrowing down your target market. There is no point in me trying to push my erotica story towards people who enjoy Christian literature – that would be a monumental waste of time and effort to say the least. So you need to begin with knowing your book, understanding its place within the world of literature, and then getting to know your target market.
Still with me? Good, because if you can’t be bothered to understand or follow this first step, then you are going to fail in your marketing efforts. I’ve seen people posting half-assed adverts into generic Facebook book groups in the vain hope that this will generate sales. It doesn’t.
Marketing is an expensive business, and if you’re going to sink hundreds of dollars into it, then you need to have some assurance that it will result in sales. It involves a lot of trial and error, planning and design, time and effort.
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What marketing tools do you need?
Before we even think about how or where to market your book, we need to think about what tools you need to have at your disposal. Some of these may be obvious, others you may not have even thought about, but here is a basic list of things you need to have prepared:
Cover art – it’s not enough to have the art attached to the book. You need to have a jpeg or pdf file of the art to hand ready to send out to your chosen marketing platforms when required. You might even want to have a smaller version of the file to use as a thumbnail.
Author bio – you’re not just selling your book, you’re selling a little slice of you along with it, so put your best outfit on and be ready to make a brief appearance alongside your other marketing material.
Blurb – that thing that most authors dread. The hook. The sell. The short description of the book designed to inspire and entice people to read. I’m not going to go into detail on how to write one here, just know that you need it.
Social media links – Facebook, twitter, Instagram, website, blog… whatever you have – have the links to them on hand, and if you don’t have at least one of these then consider setting one up.
Teasers – Little snippets – short quotes from the book placed over a pretty background image. You can make them yourself if you have a little time. There are a lot of free basic graphic design packages you can download to put them together. Watch out using images from the web, make sure they are copyright free otherwise you will get into trouble. Alternatively go take your own pictures.
Optional extras include – book trailers (these can be expensive so don’t worry if you don’t have one), snippets from ARC’s (advanced review copies) – little quotes from people who have already read (and enjoyed) the book.
Go get yourself organised and pull all these things together. When that’s done, then we can talk about how and where to get them out in the big wide world.