Okay, you’re an unknown author, never published anything that really made you any money. And you’re thinking about taking matters into your own hands: publishing your eBook. Why not? eBook readers are becoming the rage, right? Okay, but how are you going to get anyone to buy it? How are you going to get anyone to even know it is up there?
Or maybe you’re an author who has just landed your first publishing deal… You dream what will happen: your incredible novel will get reviewed by the New York Times Book Reviewer – and you’ll delight in watching your sales sail you to the top of the bestseller charts. That’s what you’ve been dreaming, right? It’s okay – you don’t have to admit it out loud. But the reality is that publishers are putting less and less marketing efforts into your first published work because they are concentrating on their big release dates from their big bestselling authors, like Alice Munro and Anne Rice. Trust me – you’re not even on their radar.
You, yes YOU, have to market your new book.
Every book has a potential market in today’s fractured communications landscape. But where is that market, and how do you reach them? Getting to them is your ticket to sales success.
So what do you do?
Here’s the essential steps in point form. Below I’ve gone into detail on each one.
★Define Your Market
★Research Your Market
★Build Relationships with Members of Your Target Audience
★Build Your Own Blog
★Create Profiles For Social Networking Sites
★Join www.scoop.it and Create Mini-Sites
★Continue Blogging and Scooping and Blogging Some More
Here we go!
★Define Your Market★
What kind of book have you written? A business book based on years of experience and observation? An historical romance? A How-To guide to growing your own weed? You need to think about your book – and think hard – to discover what kind of book it really is. If it’s an historical fiction are there other salient qualities to it (eg. gothic elements, fatal twist at the end?)? If it’s a business book, is it a revolutionary new developmental framework for the small business model? If it’s a book on how to grow weed, is it also specialized on how to do with hydroponics? Figure out what kind of book you’ve written – that’s your first job. And then figure out who would read it.
Who are your potential readers? You need to know this, but you can only know this if you know what kind of book you’ve written. Think hard about this. Every business has to define its target audience – and your book? It’s a business in itself.
So define your target audience. This is essential – because every single step after this one rests on the assumption that you’ve got a really really good understanding of who your target audience is. Because those are the people who will buy your book. And almost no one else (unless it causes a “World Wide Rave”, but we’re going more for the “Long Tail” phenomenon thing here; and if you don’t know what those phrases mean, you need to figure that out, too. Hint: Just do Google searches for them…)
RECAP: Figure out who your target audience is – these are the people who will have an interest in the kind of book you have written – because every other step depends on this essential building block.
★Research Your Market★
Okay, here’s where you’ve got a lot of work to do. The internet is an incredible tool for you, here. Find out where your target market is hanging out. Some of them will be on Twitter, others on Pinterest, still others in online communities (for example, the World of Warcraft game discussion sites). Find out where they hang out online, then go there.
Start hanging out there, too. Find out how the site works before you take an active part in anything, though. It is critical right now that you don’t make any social networking blunders, like spamming the group or anything like that.
Right now, your task is to lurk, listen and learn.
What are they talking about? What are their interests? Where else do they congregate on the web? Go there and learn more about them. What are their buying habits? Do they spend money on items that are more expensive or less expensive? Checking them out on eBay is great for this kind of research. And really importantly, what other books by which other authors are they buying?
RECAP: Find out anything and everything you can about your target audience and both their online & offline behaviour – by lurking, listening and learning.★Build Relationships with Members of Your Target Audience to Gain Credibility★ (done concurrently with next step which follows this step)
Don’t rush onto Facebook and start sending out Friend Requests just yet! Nope. Figure out who the key influencers are in your target community; these are the people who post a lot and comment a lot and who everyone follows on twitter. These people will often have blogs. Download an RSS Reader (Reeder for Mac is what I use – and I love it). You don’t know what that is? Basically, it’s a way of following a bunch of blogs at the same time and getting automatic updates “pushed” to your reader every time a new blog post is published on one of the blogs you are following. If you’ve got a Mac, get Reeder. If you’ve got a PC – I have no idea which are the best. Do an internet search. (hey – are you beginning to see a pattern here?)
So subscribe to all the blogs of all the thought leaders you can find that you have a genuine interest in. These are the people who will teach you what is happening RIGHT NOW in the minds of your target audience, because they are either so tuned in with what’s happening in their world, or they follow so many Twitter users that they’re always up to date on the fleeting thoughts of your target market. So follow these blogs, and read them!
Every morning, the first thing you do should be sit down with your coffee and your reader and look through the newest blogs that have been posted. And when something catches your eye, read the whole blog. This practice will give you infinite amounts of knowledge about your target audience.
And then, once you’ve been following these blogs for a while and lurking, listening and learning, take a big step – and engage! That’s right: engage with someone. You’re not a complete idiot. You can think of a smart, timely, interesting comment to someone’s blog posting. And you’d better make sure it’s a smart response, and not just, Hey-Love-What-You-Wrote! Who cares? You might be stroking the blogger’s ego, but you’re not accomplishing anything but that.
Your whole goal here is to post something smart, timely, relevant, and thought-provoking. Because if you do, someone else might respond, carrying on the conversation. And then someone else might respond. And if this happens – (and don’t expect it to right away or every time you post a comment, either) – everyone looks up at the top to see who wrote the original comment and what they said. And the next time you comment, they’ll see you’re engaging. And if THAT comment causes a conversation, then all the better. But even if not, as long as it is smart, timely, etc then you’ll begin to gain credibility. Which is what you are after at this point. Gaining credibility.
RECAP: After doing your homework it’s time to engage – in order to gain credibility.
★Build Your Own Blog To Gain Credibility★
Yes – do it.
“But I already have one!” I can hear you whine. Yes, but this one is probably going to be different. (If you’re a business writer with an already existing blog that has lots of followers and where you’ve already build credibility, then you can skip this step. But read it just the same to make sure you’re approaching your current blog the correct way.)
This is the blog in which you will never ever ever ever post a single posting of creative fiction, or a commissioned article, or anything else that doesn’t accomplish the goals of this blog.
So what are the goals?
(NOTE: It is crucial that you do NOT link your blog to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc accounts YET. That comes in the next step. Right now, you just want to get your blog going, and populate it with interesting and informative blog entries – entries designed specifically to meet the curiosity of your target community.)
The goal of this blog is to give away information.
Good information. Timely information. Information that is relevant to your target audience. That’s right – information that is written specifically for your target audience – and only your target audience. This is not the place to blog about your daily activities, your 3-year old’s tantrums, or post pictures of the family dog.
This is the blog that you are building for your target audience, and only your target audience, in order to gain credibility! Don’t worry, it’s not time to push this blog yet. You can make mistakes – but if you do and you realize it, then go back to that blog posting and either fix the mistake or delete it from the blog.
“But what is relevant to my target audience?” After all the research you’ve been doing, you’ll know by now. By following the thought leaders in your target audience community you already know the hot issues, the timely issues, the ones that get people’s attention. And you have a writer’s mind, so you can come up with some of your own ideas to post by synthesizing what you’ve been learning elsewhere.
Start populating this blog with entries. Every day if you can. If not, then at the very very least 3 times per week. Build up a bunch of blog entries that will serve to present you as an authority in your target community – which you are; you’ve even written a book for that target audience, for you-know-whose sakes! So get moving. You’ve got a lot of blogging to do. Because when you start pushing these blog entries, people will begin to sift through your past entries. And if you don’t have a history of blogging, then many of them won’t take you very seriously.
(I’d suggest using WordPress for your blog for many reasons I don’t have time to get into here.)
RECAP: Build your own blog, dedicated to giving free information that is relevant to the special interest of your target community. This gives you credibility because your new blog illustrates that you, too, are part of the target community you are trying to reach.
★Create Profiles For Social Networking Sites and Begin Making “Friends”★
Now is the time to begin to get onto all these social networking sites you’ve been hearing about – if you aren’t already. Maybe you’re a fiction writer who already has a lot of followers in the writing community. Or maybe you’ve written a business book and you already have over 500 LinkedIn followers – not to mention a blog. But if you haven’t, then this is the time to do so.
Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. And for business books, LinkedIn, of course. (But do NOT join ScoopIt yet – that comes below.) These are the basics. Look for others where your target audience gathers. Join those ones. And start using them.
With Twitter, the best thing you can do to start making friends with your target audience is to “follow” them. Use hashtags to find tweets relevant to your target audience’s preferences. Follow your thought leaders; most of them will have their Twitter names front and center on their blog. You should too, by the way.
Start to follow people and an amazing thing happens – they begin to follow you back.
Everyone is hungry for new ideas, new thoughts, new trends. Yes, even the thought leaders. Especially the thought leaders, because they use Twitter a lot to keep up with timely shifts in public thinking amongst their following. And don’t follow too many in one day. Just 8 or 10 new people to follow each day. It’s remarkable how quickly you will begin to build a following on Twitter when you do this.
And for you fiction authors? Make sure you follow every single relevant book publisher or reviewer who works with your target audience. These are, especially, your thought leaders. You really want them to follow you back – so make sure that you don’t try to follow them until you’ve got a blog populated with great content – and lots of it!NOTE – And this is important: Make sure that you follow back every single person who follows you.
You might not think that they are your target audience, but they have found you for a reason, and decided to follow you for a reason, and that reason is probably because they are interested in what you have to say. Recognize how important this is. Make sure that anyone who is interested in you has access to what you have to say.
Also, every single time someone follows you (and you should check every morning) send out a Tweet starting with @theirusername by simply clicking on the option to do so, and thank them for following you (eg. @mollymediastud is my Twitter handle – follow me if you like)! And make it sound personal and real, like you’re human behind the twitter handle. I do this by signing these personal tweets with my real first name, Darren. And I do so for one simple reason: I really AM grateful to them for following me. You should be too.
They really appreciate it, and they are more resolved to listen to what you have to say – because you have shown an interest in them! That’s how you make friends in any situation, and you’ve been doing it all your life back to your playground years before the internet – you express an interest in them.
And if you’ve been doing your homework, and posting comments on other blogs and engaging with your target community (aha! they are no longer your “target audience” but have now become your “target community”), then these people will have noticed you already, and will be glad to follow you to see what else you are up to.
RECAP: It’s time to create user accounts for the social media sites that your target community populate – especially Twitter – and begin to engage.★Join www.scoop.it and Create Mini-Sites of Information Dedicated to Niche Interests Within Your Target Community★
Okay, so you’ve now got some influential followers.
It’s time to join one more site: http://www.scoop.it/
This is a site where you can grab web pages from the internet – blog entries, data sheets, etc – and “scoop” it onto your Scoopit site. (NOTE: do NOT connect your scoopit site to your other social media sites yet – that’ll come in a few moments. This is really important so that no one thinks you are spamming them.)
What happens is you create an account, you install the “Scoopit” icon in your browser’s toolbar by clicking and dragging it up there (it is that simple), and then you create themed mini-sites within the site that are special interest pages in which you have scooped relevant information for that particular target audience.
And the best part about it is you can look through all your blog entries, figure out organizational classifications for the majority of them, and create mini-sites based on those classifications within ScoopIt – and then begin populating them by scooping your own blog entries. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Use interesting, catchy names for your scoopit mini-sites. These will grab your target audience’s attention. Just like you’ve been using really catchy titles for your blog entries – right? Like mine, from yesterday: Hey Business Professionals: 5 Reasons Why Your Kindle Is Your BFF!
Your goal is to populate your mini-sites with useful information. And don’t just scoop your own blog entries; scoop up some of the best blog entries from your thought leaders. They’ll usually appreciate that you are reposting their entries because it brings more people to them, too. Also, your thought leaders are probably obsessed with their own site stats, and soon enough they’ll figure out that people are connecting to their blog through your ScoopIt site – so you will soon be on their very very favorable radar.
So, get at least 4 or 5 really interesting – but also really relevant – scoops for each of your mini-sites that are each targeted for niche interests within your niche community.
Now: here’s the fun part.
Start connecting your social media accounts to your scoopit mini-sites (especially your Twitter account and your LinkedIn account), but only after you’ve already populated them with some interesting, relevant, timely – and maybe even controversial – content. And something magical happens: each time you scoop something afterwards, the scoop is cast to all the social networking sites that you have connected with.
And Twitter, here, is most important. Because if someone clicks on that link, they are brought to your Scoopit mini-site where you have scooped your blog entry, and they see all the other entries you have scooped into that mini-site. And if they click on your entry you’ve just posted, or some other entry from your blog, then they are instantly brought to that blog entry at that site.
If the article came from your blog, then they’ll be redirected to your blog and have a chance to sift through your other entries, find out how great you are and how you post all this great content that is relevant to their ideas, their interests, their goals – and they’ll start to follow you on Twitter and really look for what you have to say.
And if they decide to click on a different Scoopit entry that you’ve scooped from someone else? Then they’ll be taken to that website. That linking will show up in your thought leader’s stats – that people are linking to his/her site… from yours! And they will LOVE you.
Great stuff, huh?
This is true even for your LinkedIn site, if you have one. It’s time to connect your ScoopIt site to feed to your LinkedIn site. If you do have a LinkedIn site (business writers take note), then make sure you turn on your “Activity Feed” in your settings, and allow “anyone” to see it.
And Facebook, too.
But especially link these mini-sites (sites designed for, and populated with, content that is relevant to your target community members’ tastes, interests, desires and fears) to your Twitter account. This is really important. And make sure that your bio on the ScoopIt site identifies your Twitter handle so that if any of your target community looks further into you, they can find you on Twitter if you’re not already connected.
RECAP: Join www.scoop.it to expand your online presence and to become further recognized as a thought leader within your target community – not to mention that it will help you get on your thought leaders’ favorable radar while drawing others to your blog.
★Continue Blogging and Scooping and Blogging Some More★
Yes, continue doing what you are doing.
Keep up the good work.
Build your community.
(Notice how it has changed from your “target audience” to your “target community” to simply “your community”.)
That’s right. Now you’re part of the community where all the people who would be interested in buying your book live online.
And they’re listening. That’s gold in the bank.
So let me know how it goes!