Marketing remains the toughest challenge for self published authors and publishers in a world where hundreds of thousands of books are published each year. There are many channels and venues to consider and usually a limited budget of time and money with which to address them. We recently had the opportunity to talk again with book marketing expert Sue Collier and get her thoughts on how book marketing has evolved during the last 3 years and how authors and publishers can effectively promote their titles.
Sue Collier is the president of Self-Publishing Resources, a firm that provides book writing, book production, and book promotion services for authors, entrepreneurs, professionals, and corporations. She is coauthor of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition (Writer’s Digest Books, 2010) and Jump Start Your Books Sales, 2nd Edition (Communication Creativity, 2011). She is an active blogger and writes about self-publishing and the occasional off-topic rant at SelfPublishingResources.com.
FPP: What are the most significant changes have you seen in book marketing over the past 3 years?
SC: The use of social media, no question. Three years ago, I suspected social media would have its place in the future in terms of marketing, but I did not expect it to become so important in such a short amount of time. Writers, many of whom tend to be more introverted, have massive opportunities with this softer approach to promoting.
FPP: What are the most effective ways for authors and / or publishers to use social media marketing?
SC: They have to participate actively. It’s not enough to simply start a Facebook page or a Twitter account; you’ve got to reach out and build relationships. Set up Google alerts on your topic so you can participate in the conversation. Social media marketing is not about blatant promoting; it is about establishing connections with people.
FPP: What time investment should authors should plan on for promoting their book via social media?
SC: Losing track of time is one of the biggest challenges in using social media. You start chatting on Twitter about your new book, and the next thing you know an hour or more has slipped by and you are clicking on links that have nothing to do with promoting yourself. Some experts recommend spending twenty minutes or so in the morning and another twenty minutes in the late afternoon to respond to the day’s activities. I advise authors to make a decision on how much time they will spend–and stick with that. Another problem is not defining your purpose for using social media and making a plan before you get started; this will serve as another way to help limit time.
FPP: E-books have steadily increased in popularity. Are there major differences in promoting / marketing an e-book vs. a print book?
SC: There are the obvious differences between the two–and perhaps you will miss out on opportunities to promote to those who are still resistant to e-readers–but promoting is still promoting. I don’t think there are major differences in promoting one over the other.
FPP: What do you think are the most essential elements for a book marketing plan today?
SC: A good author platform. This many-sided book marketing mechanism is hands-down the best way for authors to reach their potential readers–and to sell books.
FPP: If they go the traditional (vs. self publishing) route, what should an author expect the publisher to do from a marketing perspective and what should they plan on doing themselves?
SC: They shouldn’t plan on the publisher doing much. In fact, publishers today will expect that any authors they sign on will already have a large network and strong author platform in place–well before the book deal. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions today by authors seeking traditional publication. The fact is that the “trads” will spend the bulk of their marketing budgets on their biggest named authors; the midlist author is usually left languishing in a catalog and/or on a website. It’s up to the author to be proactive when it comes to marketing and promoting–whether they decide to self-publish or are picked up by a traditional publishing house.
FPP: How do you see books being marketed three years from now?
SC: Online communication between authors and readers will continue to grow. One’s online “influence,” including the use of social networks, will become more and more valuable both as a way to harness that influence–and to promote one’s self and one’s book.
You can reach Sue at sue@SelfPublishingResources.com.
- Slow Cooked Branding – An Interview with PR Expert Patricia Vaccarino
- Influence and Authority Book Marketing
- TSocial Vampires & the Art of Bookselling – Lessons from the Twilight
- Social Media Marketing – An Interview with Author Paul Gillin