Questions for the Author

What’s the best way to market your books?

Short answer: write a good book and tell people about it.

Longer answer: I’ve been reading a lot about marketing recently. Since I’ve taken the decision to self-publish, I’m now in control of every aspect of each book’s success so this has been a strong motivator to become familiar with marketing.

To be pedantic for a moment, I should point out that one of the first courses I went on told me to shift my mindset from thinking of the promotion of my titles as ‘marketing’ and to concentrate on thinking of the process as ‘advocacy’. I’m not marketing my fiction.  I’m advocating the strengths of my books to potential readers. It’s only a subtle shift in attitude but it represents a huge difference for someone, like me, who is something of a reluctant salesperson.

Step One is relatively simple. You have to create the best product you’re able to supply. There’s no sense writing a book and telling potential readers to overlook the typos and to ignore a handful of pages of clumsy exposition. As a writer you have to do your best. This rule applies whether you’re self-publishing or working with a small independent publisher, or producing stuff with one of the big players in the publishing world. The book you create needs to be the best product you can supply.

Why is this focus on a good product mentioned under marketing? Well, it’s easier to market a well-written book rather than a hurried pile of garbage. If this was a food product we were discussing, it would be easier to sell something original with the finest ingredients rather than something stale that everyone has eaten before.

Step Two comes about once the book is written. You need to get readers. You need to get reviewers. You need to get people talking about the product you’ve created. This can involve blog tours, guest posts, reviews (and reciprocal reviews) and a host of other things. It can also involve building mailing lists, participating in podcasts and, in short, doing everything you can to make potential readers aware of the product you’ve created.

However, it’s not just as simple as telling readers that you’ve written a good book. I had a colleague who, when asked what he thought about a recently released film, said, “The advertisers seemed to think highly of the product.” I mention this because we expect an author and paid advertisers to say, “Buy this book – it’s brilliant.” But, when an author says the same thing, we don’t listen.

The thing that has the greatest impact is when a trusted friend says, “Buy this author’s book – it’s brilliant.” When we hear these words from a trusted source we immediately go on Amazon and add a title to our wishlist.

So, to summarise, the best way to market books is to write a damned good book and then get satisfied readers to tell people all about it. And I should add, if you’ve ever been a satisfied reader of one of my titles, please leave an Amazon review, and then tell your friends on FaceBook or Twitter to try one of my books.

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