by Joan Stewart (@PublicityHound)
I first met Joan at last year’s IBPA Publishing University, where we presented a session together, and this year in Chicago we got to do it again. Joan is an incredible source of information on publicity, promotion, blogging, and a lot of other topics of concern to authors. She runs a popular series of webinars, constantly puts out a stream of great content, and has more “tips” than anyone else I know. Today she addresses some of the opportunities you might be missing, so read on.
If you’ve written a book, you have my utmost respect.
You’ve spent a lot of time and money on a topic that’s your passion. But please, don’t erode that respect by doing something dumb like handing me a business card with a Yahoo or Hotmail email address.
You only have one chance to make a great first impression with me, potential readers, or others who are in a position to buy your products and services.
After speaking at two authors conferences recently, I was disappointed to see that dozens of authors are still making the same mistakes year after year.
1. Using Yahoo, Hotmail or other free email addresses for business.
Of the stack of business cards I brought back from Judith Briles’ Author U and Publishing University, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, almost all were from authors who use Yahoo, Gmail, AT&T, and Hotmail email addresses.
Those addresses scream “I’m cheap!”
But even worse, you’re advertising your phone company, a search engine, or an Internet service provider instead of your own brand. If you don’t have a website, you can still buy a domain name for about $10 a year and use it along with one of those free email accounts.
2. Not knowing your target market.
This is probably the most egregious sin. At Author U in Denver in May, I was one of several experts who took turns speaking with authors in a round-table format. Each expert was seated with six authors, and each author had about four minutes to pick the expert’s brain. When time was up, the authors moved onto another table and expert. I had several batches of seven authors who fired questions at me.
At least half of the authors who wanted my advice–half!–either didn’t know the target audience for their books, or they couldn’t describe it quickly. This isn’t a trick question. If you don’t know who you’re writing for, don’t you dare start writing.
Perry Marshall, one of my coaches, has said that you should know someone in your target market so well, that you’re able to write a page in their journal, just like they’d write it.
Fiction writers, this goes for you, too.
3. Not blogging, or not blogging regularly.
“I don’t have time to write,” is no excuse. Neither is “I don’t know what to write about.”
If you made time to write a book, you can make time to write blog posts. And if you don’t know what to write about, Google “how to find ideas for blog posts.”
Blogs bring traffic. They also give you credibility, authority and–eventually–sales.
4. Abandoning a book marketing campaign midstream to write another book.
Writing and publishing the book are the easy parts. Marketing it, and generating publicity long after the book is off the press, are far more grueling. Marketing it consistently, year after year, takes patience, energy, time and commitment.
If the first book isn’t selling six months after you published it, and you’re bored with it, hire someone to help you figure out what’s wrong. Don’t abandon it and invest another two years and thousands of dollars in a second book that’s also doomed to fail. It could be that you’ve written an excellent book but don’t understand basic book marketing.
I have hundreds of articles about book marketing and promotion at my blog.
5. Not collecting email addresses.
During every speaking engagement, book signing, Chamber of Commerce breakfast, and trade show you attend, offer attendees something of value for free, like a cheat sheet, tips list, checklist or White Paper they can download, in exchange for an email address. It should tie into your area of expertise, or the topic of your book.
Stay in touch at least once every few weeks with helpful email tips and advice.
“But I’m not an Internet marketer,” some authors claim.
If you sell your book on Amazon or from your website, you’re an Internet marketer. A good list of email addresses from people who have given you permission to market to them, used correctly, is like gold.
Make sure list is double opt-in. That means the subscriber must click on an email confirmation link before receiving further messages from you. This keeps you out of trouble, and it reduces the cost of sending tips to hundreds of people who don’t want them.
Don’t rely only on an email program like Gmail or Outlook to send information to your email list, or you’ll end up with an administrative nightmare when people want to unsubscribe and can’t find an unsubscribe link. I use AWeber and love it.
6. Not using the wide variety of social media tools to sell more books.
Goodreads’ Author Program has tools galore for promoting your books. Yes, I said promoting. It’s the world’s largest book review and book recommendation site and boasts 10 million users. Over at my blog, Joel Friedlander offers savvy tips on how to boost the number of your friends on Goodreads.
Other social media tools include your own YouTube channel, Pinterest boards around your topic, a podcast, a Twitter feed, and a Facebook page devoted to your book title.
7. Relying only on printed reviews.
Many book sections in newspapers and magazines are either shrinking or gone. Goodreads is only one of several dozen book review sites where book lovers, from casual readers to bookworms, are gathering. Others include Amazon.com, BookTalk.org and ReviewtheBook.com.
You have opportunities galore to start building relationships on these sites with people who are your ideal readers.
8. Referring to yourself as an author when you’re really an expert who has published a book.
Today, anyone can be an author. Not everyone can be an expert, however, a word that has more credibility, cache and power.
Expertise isn’t only about what you know. It’s more about what you do: blog, write book and articles, speak, teach classes, coach, publish a newsletter, hold industry certifications, and serve as a source for the media.
The National Speakers Association, my professional association, published The Expertise Imperative, an excellent White Paper on the topic of expertise, and what it entails. It’s more than a decade old but still relevant today. If you aren’t an expert in your topic and want to become one, or if you want to strengthen your expertise, this is must reading! It applies to authors, many of whom are also speakers.
9. Pushing your book on people who aren’t interested in it.
Every year, authors I don’t know mail me books I don’t care about. Some packages include expensive press kits, tchotchkes, and other trinkets that go right into the wastebasket. What a missed opportunity to save money! If you aren’t sure whether someone is interested in reading or reviewing your book, ask them. Better yet, offer to connect with them on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, where you can share information they’ll love. Build the relationship first.
That’s my list. Now, let’s see yours. What opportunities do you see authors missing?
Publicity expert Joan Stewart (shown here with Bogie) works with authors, speakers, experts and small business owners who need free publicity to establish their credibility, enhance their reputation, position themselves as experts, sell more products and services, and promote a favorite cause or issue. She publishes the popular ezine, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week” twice a week. It’s filled with the best tips, tricks and tools for self-promoters, and a good, clean dog joke or video in every issue. Subscribe at The Publicity Hound website and receive free the handy cheat sheet “89 Reasons to Write a Press Release” and Joan’s “Top 10 Tips for Free Publicity.”
Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Many links in this article include my affiliate code.