Does the idea of marketing yourself and your books make your head hurt?
You are not alone!
While writing books comes naturally to us, marketing seems so vague and complicated. And yet it’s a necessary evil that must be overcome if we want to be successful indie authors. We scour the internet, listen to a bunch of podcasts, and watch enough videos that our heads explode. And marketing our books still doesn’t make sense.
What if I told you that not only could you understand how to market yourself but actually enjoy it? As someone who writes fiction and does marketing for a living, the key is to approach marketing in a way authors can relate to.
Here are five marketing tips for indie authors by an indie author.
Know Your Ideal Reader
Before you even start drawing up marketing plans or creating social media accounts, you need to know who your book is for. Authors who excel at marketing cater everything they do to that person who will buy every book they write. Just look at some of the most popular authors out today:
● Stephen King fans want a book that will scare their socks off.
● James Patterson readers want thrillers with savvy detectives and larger-than-life villains.
● JK Rowling caters to readers who want to escape to magical places
That’s why you need to know your ideal reader just as well as the main character in your book. What types of settings does this reader love to read about? Where do they hang out online? Who are other authors they love? How do they recommend books to others?
When deciding what online platforms you should be on, whether to start a blog, or even what to write in an email you can always go back to this research. No matter what type of marketing you do, it has to connect with your ideal reader.
Have a Strong Author Brand
If you go back to those authors we mentioned earlier, there’s something else you may notice — they all have strong brands. You hear their names and you automatically know the kind of books they write.
From your Instagram feed to your author website, when readers discover you they should be able to tell right off the bat who you are, what you’re about, and the genre you write in.
Jay Baer, the author of Convince and Convert, defines a brand as “the art of aligning what you want people to think about you with what people actually do think about you.” Think about what you want to be known for. Do you want to be known for penning epic fantasy stories? Do you want readers to see you as an authority in the self-help space?
When thinking about the content you want to share online — social media posts, emails, videos, your website — think about how it will back up the author brand you want to create.
Connect With Readers Through Your Personal Story
Whether you have one book out or twenty, sharing your story can really resonate with your audience. Marketing these days is all about connecting with people on a human level, and our books are no different. We all want to connect with others that either share similar experiences with us, know what we’re going through, share our struggles, hobbies, and even fandoms.
What happens when readers feel you could be friends in real life? They will buy anything you write and rave about your work to their friends.
Think about your personal story and what shaped your life as a writer. What got you into writing? Why is it a passion for you? Was it because you wanted to write the stories you wanted to read? Did you start writing late in life? The key to sharing your story in a way that furthers your book marketing is to make sure your audience can relate to it.
Take Your Reader On A Journey
Instead of looking at content marketing as something that’s stiff and uncreative, think of it as taking your reader on a journey of discovering you as a writer and the stories you tell. In Marketing Land, it’s called the buyer’s journey–companies create valuable and entertaining content for their audience as they make their way to buying their products. Since you already know how to tell an engaging and entertaining story, you can apply that same approach to your marketing.
When you’re first starting out, you want to attract your ideal reader to you and your author brand. Like the opening chapters of your book, you have to make a great impression and entice your reader to keep reading.
Once they’ve accepted your call to adventure (i.e. followed you on Instagram or subscribed to your email newsletter), you want to keep them around. Doing weekly Instagram live videos, participating in Instagram book challenges, or sending out monthly newsletters are just a few things you can do to keep your new followers engaged and coming back for more.
Finally, when your reader is ready to complete their journey (i.e. buy your book), that’s when you can create marketing content that focuses your book. Giveaways, challenges, and blog tours work well at this stage because you already have a tribe who loves what you’re about and are ready to support you.
Never Lose Sight of Writing the Next Book
As indie authors, we turned our passion into a business. Like any other product-based business, the more products you have the more profitable you will be. That’s why we can never lose sight of writing the next book. There’s no better way to market yourself than publishing another book.
If you’re spending way more time marketing than writing, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate. Maybe you need to cut back on posting to social media or move your emails from twice a week to once a month. What can you schedule out ahead of time? Don’t be afraid to go back and modify your marketing tasks to free up more time to write.
While the thought of marketing yourself is enough to send you running in the other direction, think of it as a fun way to interact with your future readers. Besides, you already have a leg up in the marketing game compared to other types of solopreneurs — you know how to write, you know how to tell a story, and you have an amazing imagination.
You got this!
Margaret “MJ” McGriff is a YA fantasy author who writes about pirates, magic, monsters, and treasure-hunting nuns. She’s also a content marketing strategist for fiction authors, giving them the tools and resources they need to rock their book marketing.