Want to Succeed as a Writer? Learn How to Market Yourself

“The aim of marketing is to reduce the need for selling.”

Philip Kotler

The world of publishing has changed dramatically over the years. Ideally speaking, every author would love to be published by traditional publishers such as Bantam, Random House, Penguin, Harlequin, etc. but the fact is that with so many people venturing into writing, traditional publishers have become even more selective with who they choose to publish. That is why many aspiring authors now look for other avenues of publishing including small-time independent publishers, vanity publishers, and self-publishing.

Today, digital self-publishing is allowing people from all walks of life to publish what they want. There are numerous vanity publishers out there offering aspiring authors the chance to publish their work while offering them services such as proofreading, editing, cover page design, illustration, eBook conversion, etc. Then there are self-publishing platforms offered by Amazon and Smashwords that also allow authors to use a do-it-yourself approach to publish their work.

While all these advancements have made publishing much easier, the fact is that ease of access to publishing platforms have also resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of new authors out there. But no matter how many books get published every day, only a few authors become successful. There are several factors at play here. First,  the quality of your writing is the most important factor. You can spend thousands of dollars and use a vanity publisher, but if your book is not good, you will not see any success. Second, you need to know how to market yourself. When you work with small-time independent publishers and vanity publishers or when you self-publish, you will not get marketing services from these companies. All the book promotion and marketing activities will be your responsibility.

We are not discouraging you from using any of these publishing routes. We do want you to understand that no matter who publishes your book, you will have to put in significant time and effort to market yourself. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Plan: If you want to become a successful author, you need to have a plan. There are too many writers out there now, and it is easy to get lost among the thousands of books, blogs, and articles published every day. You either need exceptional writing skills or an extraordinary idea to make your mark. You have to come up with something unique that will attract an audience. You also need to know the age group you’re targeting.  Are you writing a book for children, teenagers, single women, seniors, or professionals? Do you want to write a fictional or non-fictional book?  You need to know all these things before you take on the publishing world.

Stick to one project at a time: One big mistake writers often make is publishing multiple books at the same time. We understand that self-publishing has made the process very easy but you really can’t expect to penetrate your target market if you overwhelm them with your work. Experts suggest that one should stick to one book at a time. Write, edit, publish and market. Let it sink in. Give people a chance to read and review so that you can see how you’ve done and how readers have responded to your material. Make sure you know who to target. The goal is to sell your book to the people who want to read it, rather than market it to thousands who won’t read past the title. Remember, the millennial generation is impatient and to sustain their attention will require some effort.

Write a book that is unique: Make sure what you’re writing is not something that has already been done to death. The last thing you want to do is write something that has already been published. That is the fastest way to ensure failure. Be unique. Be daring. Be different. If you do not have a unique idea, wait and give it some thought instead of just rehashing the same stories that have been already published. If your book is not remarkable, ask some of your colleagues for feedback. Take this feedback seriously and improve your book accordingly. Just don’t publish something for the sake of being published.

Start early: Many people think about marketing their book when they have finished writing it. This is the wrong approach. Experts in publishing suggest that one should start marketing the book as soon as it’s confirmed. Marketing a book is not easy, and it requires a lot of time. Each week, hundreds of new books are published, and if you want your book to stand out, you will have to start early and build a network of readers, reviewers and supporters. At the same time, keep track of all the people you encounter within this industry because these individuals will also help spread the word around. These can include editors, fellow writers, fans, colleagues, friend, and family. As you are writing and completing the book, send out regular emails to these individuals; not only will it make them feel important but they will be motivated to read your book and post positive reviews online.

Join online book forums: One great way to make yourself known as an author is to join online book clubs and forums. There are many such platforms now available where people discuss practical ideas about publishing and marketing. By joining these forums, you can make yourself known, and in turn, other members will get to know you. Such platforms regularly post titles of books that are published and also post information about group members. This can give you a chance to find new readers. Try and make some type of contribution to the book forums by offering advice and tips; in return, they will also help you promote your book.

Start your own blog: One of the best ways to promote your book is to start your own blog. Post excerpts from your book to generate attention and build a readership. Do not give away the main plot or the ending but leave the reader in suspense so that they will be motivated to buy your book. If your book is great, you will build up readers who may, in turn, mention your book within their social network and so on. This will help spread the word. Also, you should use your blog to provide your readers with something interesting and useful. This will also help you expand your presence among your readers and connect with them in a positive manner. Update your book blog regularly and let the reader know what is happening. The more active you are on your book blog, the more likely that word will spread and this also helps you go up on Google ranking.

Find a good editor: Self-publishing and vanity publishing has now made everyone a writer. But that does not mean everyone can write. If you go through the numerous eBooks now available on Amazon, you will quickly realize how many of these books are poorly written with terrible grammar and several typos. This is one of the biggest turnoffs for readers. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, not only do you need good writing skills, you also need a good editor. When you publish through a traditional publisher, you don’t have to worry about this aspect since they are very particular about editing and proofreading. But not all vanity publishers provide the same level of service. Make sure you know that the people you’re working with understand your readers and are professional enough to publish your book only when it’s ready to be published. If you’re self-publishing, you still need a good editor.  Do not ask a friend to edit to save money. Remember, a good editor can make a big difference, and the money you spend on this will pay off in the long-run. Also, before your book is published, read it one last time to ensure there are no typos. This is very important.

Be positive: When you try to promote your book, adopt a positive attitude. Explain why you wrote the book and how it may help the reader. Readers today love to connect with authors. They want to be part of the storyline and the more upbeat you make it, the more likely that your book will be promoted by word of mouth. Promotion is as much a responsibility of the author as it is the publisher. But the more you do at your end, the faster the book will start to sell.

writer tips

Go Amazon: Today Amazon offers new authors guidelines on how to write a book and publish it. You do not need a publisher, and best of all, Amazon will help promote your book at no cost. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform offers a tremendous opportunity to new authors to make their mark. The great thing about Amazon is that the company operates globally and all the books published through Amazon can be viewed by readers anywhere on the planet.

Author details: When you publish a book, it is important for the reader to know who you are. Take your author profile seriously.  Get a professional picture. Write a great biography. Tell the reader why you wrote the book and why you are qualified to write this particular book. Sell yourself and your work effectively by using your author page.

Go on YouTube: Another great way to promote your book is to go on YouTube. This free website is viewed by millions of people each day. You can create a presentation about yourself; you can create a book trailer; you can publish writing tutorials etc. If you can connect with your readers through YouTube, you will see how fast your name becomes famous in the publishing world.

Get reviews: Three to six months before your book is to be published, send out advanced copies of your book to fellow writers, colleagues, mentors, editors, and friends. Ask them to read it and give you feedback. If they like it, tell them to review the book so that once it’s published, readers can get an idea about the quality of the book. These days before people buy anything, the first thing they do is check online reviews. Make sure you have reviews posted on several social media sites and on online book club/forum pages.

Use your mentor: If your book is great and if you have another author who has been a source of inspiration for you or who is willing to help you market your book, work with them to promote your book. This can help significantly with marketing. In many cases, when books are endorsed by famous people, it helps with promotion.

Speak at book club conferences: These days many book clubs hold online seminars and meetings via Skype or other similar portals. You should try and speak at one of these events and talk about your book. You can also attend book conventions and volunteer to speak on topics related to writing and publishing. Not only will this give you greater visibility, but you will also get a chance to meet other authors and interact with publishers.

These and many other strategies can help you market yourself effectively. The important thing to remember is that you have to remain committed and dedicated. Things might get tough, but you must not give up.

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