By Eva Lesko Natiello
In today’s article, written by Eva Lesko Natiello (@EvaNatiello), indie authors are reminded of the importance of the decisions we make publishing our books. Enjoy, and be sure to comment below if you can think of other “staff” available to help self-published authors market their books.
Yesterday an author contacted me to arrange a marketing consultation. He told me he was disappointed with his marketing team. He liked what he saw I’d done with my book, and thought my team was doing a much better job. He was different than the other authors I’ve worked with—this author was traditionally published.
Here’s another example of “the grass is always greener…” We indie authors think the traditionally published benefit from something we don’t: a roster of professionals that comprise:
- a sales team
- a marketing team
- and a P.R. team
But, if truth be told, many traditional authors are increasingly underwhelmed by what this roster is able to accomplish on their book’s behalf.
I’d like to tell you, barring your ability to hire a professional marketing consultant, every self-published author out there still has a powerful, results-driven, hard-working “staff” at their fingertips. This staff:
- works pro bono
- is positioned to work overtime, weekends, and holidays
- doesn’t take coffee breaks, roll its eyes or call in sick
There are many tiers to marketing and endless opportunities. But when you’re just starting out and still struggling to recoup publishing expenses, know that you already have a robust sales, marketing and PR staff in place. The key is to recognize these players as uniquely yours. Rely on them. Leverage them. And think hard about maximizing what they can do for you. They will help you sell books even while you’re eating lunch, sleeping, and on vacation (hey, one can dream!). Say hello to your staff:
Your Sales Team
S.V.P. of Sales: Your Book Cover
Plain and simple, if you don’t leverage your cover for all it’s worth, you’re missing out on a magnificent opportunity. Your book’s cover is the most important member of your staff. In fact, it’s the head of your sales team. Yes, count on your cover to sell books. Because if it’s not, you need to fire it and start anew. It’s your book’s first impression, and you already know how important that is. In some cases, your cover works harder than a real live salesperson. How can you leverage it? Let’s take a look at the elements.
V.P. of Sales: Cover Art
Whether this is a photo or illustration, the cover art immediately tells the reader what genre you promise:
If you want to really leverage it, make the visual evocative. Get the reader to feel something and you are off to a great start. Pay attention to:
- the emotions the art evokes
Director of Sales: The Type Treatment
The font you choose for your title is another way to communicate your theme. Depending on the typeface, it can convey a sense of whimsy, darkness, adolescence, humor, mystery.
- Is a sword dripping with blood used instead of a “T”, are puckered lips used instead of an “O”?
- Is your title in a speech bubble?
- Is it bold and unflinching?
- Does it look like it was drawn by hand in chalk?
Keep a keen eye on letter spacing, weight and size and negative space.
Assistant Director of Sales: The Tagline
You don’t have a tagline? Rethink that now. A tagline is part of your sales team. In the absence of a real live person to tell your customer what to expect in the book, this is it! This is your opportunity to deliver a succinct, provocative hook. To not have a clever cover tagline is to miss a valuable opportunity.
Your Marketing Team
S.V.P. of Marketing: Meta Data/Book Description
Meta Data is located on your book’s page at the retail site wherever you choose to sell your book. In very basic terms, it’s the information that identifies your book:
- Page Count
- Publisher, etc.
While this metadata is important, it’s a given that it will exist on your book’s page and pretty straightforward. I’m talking about the next layer of metadata: the Book Description.
Whether someone is reading the back of your book in a store, or the description online, your Book Description provides a powerful opportunity. You get to control every single word here. Make sure every single word is working for you.
The first two lines of your description are incredibly important and should absolutely contain some of your keywords while also hooking your potential reader. The algorithms of online retailers are such that they will capture the first few lines of your description and search for keywords there to help direct a consumer to your book.
So your book description is working backstage as well as frontstage. It’s also the first impression the reader has to your story. Don’t blow the first impression! This description deserves a great deal of thought and time. Next to a well-written book, a well-written description is vital! If you had a real live salesperson, the book description is what they would use to get a retailer to stock your book. But you don’t have a real live salesperson, what you do have is the strategically written book description and you’re going straight to the consumer with it! Bam! How powerful do you feel now?!
V.P. of Marketing: Keywords
I mentioned keywords in your book description. In addition to using keywords there, every online retailer allows you to choose keywords so that potential readers are able to find your book when they’re using the retailer’s search engine. Keywords are IMPORTANT. (Sorry to shout.) I am not going to explain how to choose keywords, there are many, many articles that explain that. Just Google it. Make sure you study this. It’s that important.
Each keyword is an additional salesperson on your staff. Don’t you want the biggest sales team selling your book? Use every keyword available to you. The keywords you choose have the potential to land you on bestseller rankings.
Your P.R. Team
S.V.P. of P.R.: Reviews
If you had a real live P.R. team they would be talking you up at every turn. They’d be extolling:
- the virtues of your mesmerizing prose
- the seduction of your characters
- the urgency of your plot
You don’t have that. That’s okay, you have the next best thing: reviews. Use. Them. Here. Right beneath your book description lay out a series of crazy great reviews that you’ve received.
What? They’re not from Stephen King or James Patterson? Doesn’t matter. If someone said something wonderful about your book, quote them. It’s okay for now. Down the road, if you are lucky to get a book blogger or a newspaper or a radio interviewer to say something positive about your book, you’ll replace them. Little steps for little feet. The main thing here is that you are piecing together an impression.
V.P. of P.R.: Awards
Have you received any awards for your book? Now’s the time to brag. In fact, this can go above the reviews. Readers love to buy books that have received an award.
Wait, it’s not a Pulitzer? That’s alright. Use it for now to hold the space for your future Pulitzer.
How are you feeling now, boss? Taking these actionable steps by utilizing your virtual marketing “staff” will give you tremendous power and control, and that’s something else you have over a traditionally published author. Every single element of your staff is working to push your book closer to the top of the pile of books vying for readers’ attention. Make it easy for them to choose yours.
Eva Lesko Natiello is the award winning author of The Memory Box, a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. She is also a blogger, speaker and marketing consultant on self-publishing, book marketing, creativity and perseverance.
Photo: pixabay.com. Amazon links contain my affiliate code.