Publishing has changed. Printed book sales are decreasing as more people buy digital readers and tablets, and anyone with a laptop and a dream can write a book.
As the publishing landscape evolves, writers need to expand their skill set to succeed. Specifically, they must "own" the marketing and sales introduction of their books, whether they are traditionally published or self-published.
Case in point: Guy Kawasaki recently self-published APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book, with co-author Shawn Welch, in which he explains how to write, self-publish, and sell a book.
"Your activities as any kind of author do not end when your book is published. You should market your book for as long as you want people to buy it," Guy writes in APE.
What used to be done on a whirlwind, multi-city book tour is now done via social media, email, Skype, and Google+ hangout. This modern twist on the book tour is more efficient, but it's ongoing, and also a lot of work!
This is how Guy "guerrilla-marketed" his new book:
- Solicited feedback, editing, and reviews from his four million friends on social networks
- Participated in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything"
- Participated in a "Tweet Me Anything" (This flash chat's 1,487 tweets generated 111,065,029 impressions, reaching an audience of 2,464,802 followers.)
- Participated in a Google+ Hangout with Jessica Northey
- Moderated a panel at the Churchill Club called "The Future of Publishing," simultaneously broadcast via a Google+ Hangout
- Conducted three interviews per day via telephone and Skype for weeks
- Created an APE Community on Google+ to mentor writers
- Worked his regular social-media followers on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
In short, Guy answered a lot of questions! Some were about him and some about the writing process, but all had the goal of getting the word out about his book. His technique is subtle yet effective. In each interview or event, he allows people to ask any question at all. His open-book style of being interviewed is refreshing and informative.
Years of experience with public speaking and interviews, and years of being in the public eye, definitely give Guy the advantage at this point in his career, but those are all skills that he learned and honed.
Guy's No. 1 secret weapon is that he works really hard. In the words of a person on a Google+ hangout, "You were everywhere this week, Guy." And that's your goal when you launch your book.
Guy's No. 2 secret weapon is as easy as ABC: always be closing. But think of your marketing as a conversation, not a pitch, and speak accordingly. If you are continually talking about yourself and your book, people will quickly be bored. By allowing others to learn and grow through your interaction, you provide them value, and then you may remind them that they can learn more in your book.
However, being understated in your efforts doesn't mean ignoring the fact that you are trying to sell your book. As the saying goes, you lose every sale you don't ask for.
What can you do as a writer to create buzz around your book? Here are four action steps:
- Find book reviewers. You want as many positive reviews of your book as possible in the 48 hours after your book ships. That means providing people copies of your book before it ships. It also means not being paranoid about piracy and lost sales. The upside of lots of good reviews at launch far exceeds the downside of theoretical lost sales.
- Line up guest posts for your launch week. Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing created The Ultimate Guest Posting Target Blog List with tips on how to find blogs that accept guest posts. Make sure that you follow each blog's rules for submission. Don't send a form email with "Hey, I wrote a book" pitch; your goal as a guest writer is to provide value to the blog. ProBlogger has a great article on How to be a Good Guest Blogger. Be polite, and remember that you are not doing them a favor; they are helping you. When your post is live, share it with your social network and respond to all comments on the website.
- Update your social media profiles to include information about your book. When followers check your profile, it should be a current snapshot. Don't use a hard sell; true fans and followers will be interested in your work.
- Plan ahead! Start preparing a month or two before your book launch. Put feelers out for readers to convert to reviewers, set up your guest posts, etc. If you wait until your book is shipped, you've waited too long.
Authors today need to learn how to navigate new territory, but thankfully pioneers are forging the way. What tactics have you employed to market your books?