What Are You Waiting For?
In this article, we look at the 7 essential rules of marketing your book and, especially, what works when it comes to marketing online.
Rule 1: People Want to Connect
The first rule is to realise that people will want to connect with you — and in today’s world it’s so much easier to create a real or a virtual community around us. And that community will be valuable when it comes to launching your book.
Think about books you love – look to your own shelves if you’re not convinced — and reflect on expressions or phrases that touched you, made you laugh, questions or ideas that you’d love to discuss with the author if only you had a chance.
It will be exactly the same for your readers. No matter how small an audience you think you have, someone out there wants to connect with you.
A core part of your marketing is to build on those connections to create a community of people who read and appreciate what you have to say, and who, ultimately, will become ambassadors for your next book.
Rule 2: Not All Relationships Are Equal
Building relationships is a key part of marketing your content, but it’s important to understand that not all relationships are of equal value, and not all connections should be given the same access to your ideas.
Growing your reach is essential, but you can’t force relationships online, just as you can’t force them in real life.
Anticipation can be nurtured, but it can’t be manufactured; building connection is a process and you must give it the right amount of time and attention.
Relationship building is about creating goodwill. Not in a tit-for-tat kind of way, and not in a way that leaves you giving and never asking, but in a way that builds trust and friendship with those closest to you.
Although I teach you to write for one reader as you create your book, the process of marketing is different, and you are writing for more than one reader.
With online marketing it’s easy to segment your readers so that you can give different types of content, or a different frequency of contact to each of your ‘circles’ — thus building closer and deeper relationships with those who want it.
Your inner circle will always be made up of people who have bought your content — those who choose to spend money with you have proven their interest and your future customers are always more likely to come from this group.
The second tier, or circle, will be those readers who want to talk about your content, and are active in their communication, but who do not necessarily buy, or do not buy everything you release.
These are people who will promote for you, give you ‘social proof’ and endorsements about your work, who will become ambassadors or advocates for your content — and who are likely to share your content and help you promote your book as you get closer to launching.
Building relationships with advocates is how you connect with people who want to feature you on their blog or podcast. It’s how you get introduced to a powerful connection, how you get invited to speak.
People who join your email list have indicated they want a closer relationship than those who follow you on social media.
And even within your subscriber community, those who click on your links, respond to questions, and comment on your blog posts have a stronger connection with you than those who simply file the email to read (or, more likely, delete) later.
If your email service allows you to track these people and tag them, then it’s easy to send more detailed (and perhaps more frequent) content.
If not, then ask your subscribers explicitly if they want to receive this content — create a separate email list and offer an opportunity to join this ‘inner circle’ to receive additional, exclusive content as you get closer to finalising your latest book.
It’s through these relationships that you gain more visibility for your ideas and your book, and it’s how you help your connections publish great content and enjoy the closeness of talking to someone they respect and admire.
Rule 3: Always Be Testing
The online world is the perfect testing ground for anything that you want to do — whether that’s testing content, or testing communication channels and types of media.
Even though you may still be writing your book, even though there are only so many hours in a day, this pre-launch period is the perfect time to invest in experimentation and testing to understand what your potential audience finds valuable and how they respond.
Because it may not be to the content and in the ways you think they will respond.
Share different messages and different ways of engaging to see which resonate most with your ideal reader.
What kind of comments do you get? Which posts get the most shares? On which topics do your readers offer the deepest engagement and the most thoughtful comments?
As you develop your content ideas, you are also developing your marketing message and you are able to select those slivers that capture the most attention most quickly.
Ultimately, being able to capture the attention of your ideal reader is what is going to help you sell more books.
Rule 4: Consistency Is Key
Don’t stop repeating the same idea even though you feel that you’ve said it enough times that people should have heard you.
What’s more likely is that it’s just at the point you become bored with what you are saying, and you think you’re repeating yourself, that your ideas begin to take off. This is when someone starts to hear what you’re saying.
The internet is a very busy place and most people haven’t heard your message, or haven’t taken action on it.
Stay ‘on message’ consistently until you hear people repeating your ideas back to you – that’s the point at which you know someone is listening to you, and has absorbed enough about your message to take action.
Yes, it will feel repetitive, but consistency is necessary to build your authority and credibility as an author.
Test different ways of communicating the same message, and different media, but do continue to talk about it, repeatedly and consistently.
The overnight success is often many years in the making.
Rule 5: Bite-Sized Works Best
As you build anticipation, do it around a small number of key messages that can be repeated and remembered.
In other words, create your own sound bites.
Think about successful political campaigns – they focus is on a small number of key commitments, not the full spectrum of what the politician or party stands for. Choice can be overwhelming, so – like politicians – keep your campaign simple and stay consistent.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule – that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill to the level of genius.
Gladwell didn’t invent this concept, he isn’t the original researcher, he’s simply reporting it. Yet he is so closely associated with the concept because he communicates it with such clarity and skill that it has become the most-quoted idea from the book.
Chunk down your ideas into concepts that people can remember, and communicate them consistently.
Rule 6: Keep it Simple
Related to the rule of bite-sized, is the rule of simplicity.
As you communicate your ideas — whether that’s by writing in a blog, an article, in talks or seminars, you’ll find that complexity can work against you. The books that take off and become bestsellers are not always the ones that contain the most clever ideas, or the ones that are best written. They are most often those that are well-communicated and well-marketed.
Strip your idea down to its simplest form, use a single message – or a few core messages, and communicate them clearly, and consistently.
People remember what is simple and relevant. Think about books that become phenomena like Outliers (with its one concept of the 10,000 hour rule), or The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (still a bestseller after more than fifteen years!).
Books like these have a single, or a small number of simple concepts that can be easily remembered and (importantly!) shared with and re-told to others.
There’s no need to dumb-down your ideas, just remember to make them memorable if you want them to be shared.
Rule 7: It’s Never Too Soon to Start
Marketing a book is about getting the timing right: start too early and you risk people losing interest; too late and you will miss opportunities.
But don’t over-think it. Most authors leave it too late and wait until they’ve finished writing before they turn their attention to marketing, or assume that ‘someone else‘ will do it for them.
This is a mistake; better to start now than to miss the chance to create those important connections that can help you sell books.
Audience size doesn’t matter. Whatever your reach – whether it’s a Facebook page of a few thousand or a customer list of a few hundred, just start where you are.
Develop your core ideas, and engage with the audience you have now. Your work will become better if you stay in communication, and you will build the habits of testing, and consistent communication — habits that will serve you as your reach grows.
Marketing is Simply About Sharing
Many authors think that content is king; that it’s all about the ideas, the writing.
But what use is an idea if you are not engaging with someone else?
What use is your expertise and experience if you can’t help another person? If you can’t enter into a dialogue and develop, even challenge, your own thinking?
I believe that an idea shared is more valuable than an idea kept to ourselves. And that the opportunities presented to us online allow us to reach people who want to hear from us more easily than ever before.
And this is really what marketing boils down to — a way of sharing your ideas and content so that you are creating more value in the world. More value for you, and more value for your readers.
Are you taking advantage of the opportunities to build an audience and market your book online? Are you following our ‘rules’? Or do you have rules of your own? Let us know on social media…