marketing q&a pt. 4: marketing for unpublished writers
Many moons ago, I shared a series of marketing Q&A posts, and I promised a final one, which never arrived...
I'm not sure if it was lack of time/being overwhelmed with other things or if it was pure procrastination, but for some reason, I never got around to answering this final round of questions until the end of December, so here we are.
I hope none of y'all's questions were extremely pressing, since I made y'all wait a billion years to get the answers, but I also hope you're still interested in reading what I have to say.
So, before we get into it, if you wanna catch up on the last three posts, you can read the one on social media marketing here, the one sales promotion here, and the one on author branding here! Enjoy!
Now, without further ado, the moment we've all been waiting eons for...
Is it a good idea to market books on Amazon? Is there enough of an audience there, and is it easy enough to get your book noticed? If so, what steps do you take to do that?
This is a very good question, and complex in some ways. Whether you publish through KDP, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, or pretty much anything, chances are your book will (or can be) on Amazon. So its mere presence on Amazon is a huge step in the marketing process—in part because Amazon itself is going to give your book a slight nudge for the sole purpose of driving more sales for themselves.
And, y’all. Amazon is the #1 online bookseller/retailer, so believe me when I say that there is more than enough of an audience there. The fun thing about working with Amazon is that everything is ready for you. The tools are there, the readers are there, everything you need is there for you, waiting for you to discover all the myriad possibilities.
All that’s left for you to do is make your book stand out from the 48.5 million books on Amazon. No pressure.
Case in point, if you never do any other kind of marketing for your book, market on Amazon. It is more than a good idea. Amazon is where your book is being sold; it’s your book’s landing page; it’s the portal through which readers enter into your book; the list goes on. So if you can work with Amazon, you’re set.
Now, let’s get down to business.
Amazon has a ton of resources and tools available for authors to use for marketing…but they’re not all that straightforward and obvious, if you know what I mean.
One of their best tools, Author Central, is just…not talked about by a large percentage of authors, book marketers, etc., so it’s relatively unknown to most up-and-coming authors. But whether you’re indie or trad, using Author Central (which is totally free, dudes) is going to help you track sales, improve visibility, and create a presence for yourself and your book there on Amazon.
With Author Central, you can easily add information like editorial reviews, blurbs, and more (like graphics in the A+ content section) to your book’s page to make it more intriguing to readers and stand out from the crowd. You can also claim and customize your author page (check out mine here), where you can keep your bio and author photo updated and collect followers (and you used to be able to link your blog feed, but I think they recently removed that feature)! (Also, although there is no way to see who follows you or how many followers you have, it’s still a great tool that keeps readers up-to-date on when you release a new book!)
There are also SO many tactics and strategies you can employ on Amazon to boost sales and ranking (therefore gaining more visibility, readers, and profit). Some of my favorites are:
REVIEWS! Nothing helps more than a good review—even though bad ones still count on Amazon!—and gaining more quality reviews will always help turn casual browsers into lifelong readers!
Free Kindle promotions! Yes, that basically means you’re discounting your ebook to $0.00 for up to five days. But it helps tremendously in boosting your ranking, and of course you gain more sales, which equals readers, who may review your book or purchase more from you in the future!
Keywords. Choosing the right keywords can take your book over the edge—so make sure you pick ones that fit your book, are searchable (and actually searched for), and will draw readers in!
And, of course, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
Yes, Amazon does offer advertisement services on their platform (as if you haven’t noticed), and from what I’ve heard, it’s actually a really good investment! I don’t know from experience because I have yet to (although I want to in the future) try advertising on Amazon, so I will simply direct y’all to Google for that.
To sum up, marketing on Amazon/with Amazon is one of the best things you can do for your book. So make sure your book is worth marketing (i.e., you have an appealing cover, intriguing description, updated information, etc.), then start working with Author Central to take control of your book’s page and your author page, and begin fiddling with all of Amazon’s tools to find the right keywords and price for your novel. And don’t forget to get as many reviews as you can through ARC readers, reviewing programs, blog tours, and more!
I'm trying to run a giveaway but am having a hard time finding a platform to do that on that allows teens to enter. Any suggestions?
RAFFLECOPTER! I absolutely love using it because it’s free, easy, and totally customizable. As long as your teens have an email address, they can enter your giveaway through Rafflecopter! In fact, all the rules are up to you, since you can customize your own terms and conditions! Just make sure that if you’re running a physical giveaway that requires a mailing address that entrants under 18 have their parent/guardian’s permission to enter and share their address if they win!
What are some of your best tips for growing your email list/blog following?
Hmm. Let me think of some of the things I’ve done…
Blog tours and collabs
GIVEAWAYS (end of story)
Basically, offer potential readers/subscribers something: an exclusive short story, a giveaway, writing tips, etc. And don’t just rely on your reach; promote to other people’s audiences by being featured on other blogs/newsletters or doing collabs!
Should I be marketing when I have no books to market?
In short, yes. Absolutely.
In long, the point isn’t really marketing your book. If it was, it’d be much less effective. The point is (which I’ll get into in my answer to your next question) investing your audience in you, your writing, and pretty much everything you do.
So market yourself. Share guest posts, host giveaways, post snippets and aesthetics, do Q&As, participate in blog tours, join communities and forums, post reviews on sites like Goodreads, pin quotes from your blog posts on Pinterest…all of it.
Establish a strong platform and audience even before you finish your debut book—and trust me, you’ll be beyond glad you did so!
What is the #1 marketing tip you would give if you were on your deathbed and poor, helpless young writers surrounded you?
Wow, Joelle. Getting right to the heart of the matter, eh? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what my #1 tip is, mainly because I’m still learning and growing and discovering new things.
But as far as my current #1 tip and the one I pretty much always fall back on as a sort of motto or mission…is to invest people in your writing. Heck, invest them in anything—your soap-making, your spiritual growth, your cooking escapades, your reading habits—and chances are they’ll be interested in your books because they’re interested in you.
Cultivate relationships—deep and abiding ones—with everyone around you. Get to know them, their preferences, how they communicate, all of it. Introduce them to your work and immerse them in it. In fact, your friends and followers should come to care more about your writing than you do—so when you’re burnt-out or struggling with procrastination or writer’s block, they can help you see your story through to the end; and when you’re second-guessing your writing, they’ll help you see the good in it.
In the end, whether you pay for ads or go on 10-city book tours, none of that will matter if you haven’t invested your audience in your work. So, if I were taking my final gasping breath, that’s what I would tell all the poor, helpless young writers huddled around me.
I have a private IG account but I want to go public soon, how can I use that momentum to get a lot of engaging followers? Or, how can I get a lot of engaging followers period?
The answer, my dear Allyson, is in the question. To have engaged followers, you must engage with them.
Replying to their comments on your posts
Commenting on their posts
Posting polls or Q&As in your stories
Asking questions and playing games in your feed posts
Inviting them to comment or share (or anything else, really) by using a call-to-action in your posts
Making a habit of one, two, three, or more of these things will spiral into a community of followers who engage with your content and are invested in your work!
What is the best way to promote my own writing (that's not even close to being published ready) for others to see? So far I've only let one of my friends read along as I write, to offer me feedback and whatnot. Would a website/blog work? Maybe just simply talking to people? lol. I do not have social media, but my parents do...would that be alright? Thanks!
Ooh, girl, a website/blog would absolutely work!!! And so would simply talking to people!
Really, anything that invests others in your writing (and pretty much anything/everything you do) will help you in the long run. Whether that’s sharing your favorite snippets on a blog or in a newsletter, posting writing updates on social media, or even writing stories/articles for other blogs, magazines, etc., it’s gonna be worth it.
I also recommend becoming part of a community—whether that’s on a blog, forum, or something like Young Writers’ Workshop—of writers just like you who will encourage, support, and inspire you! That community will also be the first people to help you promote your writing when it’s available to be read!
Well, that (finally) wraps up my series on marketing, but it doesn't bring an end to my marketing posts! If you have any follow-up questions or anything you'd like to learn more about, please let me know in the comments! I have a lot I want to share, I just don't know quite where to start - which is where you come in!
Also, I have duly noted everyone's requests for writing advice posts, so I have decided that (1) I will start sharing some old(ish) writing articles here over the next few weeks and (2) I will be setting up yet another form for writing-related questions/post suggestions. This could look like "Please write about how you write" (aka, vague) or something like "How do you write quotable dialogue?" Whatever you want to know, I want to write about! So here's the form for all your writerly needs! I'll try to be a bit more timely with these posts...but no guarantees. 😉
Thank you all for your patience! I'd love to hear how (if at all) these tips can help you market yourself and your work, even as an unpublished author!
yours in spirit and script,
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