How to market your business book – build an author platform.
The simple fact in book marketing and selling in 2017 is that it takes a community to market and sell a book, this is called an author platform. In the ‘old days’ (that is pre the real digital economy, about 2005) the marketing and selling of books started a couple of months prior to when the book was published by one of the mainstream publisher. Other than being available for events, signings and interviews writers didn’t have to do much.
It’s completely different now. While anyone can write and publish and book, not everyone does. It takes commitment, time, persistence, attention to detail (so much detail) some investment and lots of effort, and that’s just the writing part!
As to self-publishing, one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest challenge is undertaking the marketing, promotion and sales of the book. Most writers haven’t even thought about this aspect of their book.
Just as I am writing this I’ve received a fantastic example of this fro from Seth Price and Barry Feldman who have collaborated on a new book, The Road to recognition. http://www.theroadtorecognition.com
I am part of their author platform/community and I’ve volunteered to help promote and market their book which is being launched on 25 April. The fact that I am sharing this information show just how powerful a community can be. And, the image for their book headlines this post.
If you already have a community of followers (you might even be an Influencer in your area) OR if you’re new to the whole social media marketing universe, you need to start engaging or creating your community as you write your book.
The reason for this? You have the one thing most people don’t. CONTENT, and lots of it. You also have a passion and a plan to spread it as far as you can . . . that was one of the reasons I created The Book Adviser course.
As leading American Media scholar, Harry Jenkins said:
If it doesn’t spread it’s dead.’
Or, you may have heard the phrase, Content is King. It certainly is, but it’s no use to you or your book publishing and selling journey if others don’t know about it. So, building a community of potential readers is the Ace.
There are three distinct phases for the marketing and selling of your book.
Building your audience, launch and leveraging.
In this post I am focusing on Creating an Audience Platform because you can and need to start this quite early on in your book writing journey so you have enough time to build an audience, fan based or more, directly, a database.
Building your book community
You need to build an engaged, loyal group of people while you write as they will be your target audience for your book when you launch it . If you developed a good database and engaged them many will want to buy it, read it, talk about it, share it and encourage others to buy it.
‘Readers who are engaged with you will become fans, buy your book, tell their networks about it and help sell your book.’
This requires writers to take ownership of the marketing of their book. For many business book writers this is the most challenging step for them as they’ve been focused on the idea of writing their book. Pre-marketing and selling it is generally not something most have given any thought to at all.
The most important thing to remember is that YOU MUST BUILD YOUR OWN READER LISTS and drive them to your website. By focusing on this you will build your own database who you can engage and market to.
The two most important questions you need to ask yourself?
- Do you want to/can you build the online components you’ll need to market and sell your book? If you do, terrific get started straight away. If the answer is no you’ll need to find and pay someone to do build all the components you need. (see below).
- What on-going time commitment are you prepared to make to market and sell your book? I estimate it takes between 1-2 hours per week pretty much from the time you’re well into your first draft through to 6 months after you’ve launched your book. It might take more time to start with as you learn what you need to do, but then 1-2 hours a week is sufficient….IF you have a clear strategy and plan.
The six essential components you’ll need to market and sell your book are:
- Website with a CRM (customer relationship management system) and eCommerce facility;
- Facebook page
- LinkedIn Profile
- A database
- A content marketing strategy and calendar.
Start a Reader list
The importance of engaging potential readers through being active with blog posts, social media and specific industry/association groups is that you’ll start to build a following of people.
The key to marketing and selling your book is to develop an email list of passionate/interested followers as you write and produce your book. This means by the time you launch your book you already have a following and, if you’ve engaged your fans in a genuine and interesting way, they’ll be eager to buy your book, share it with their networks and seek you out for advice, speaking engagements, consultancy work . . . whatever it is you offer.
The key to this is:
- Finding readers
- Building a connection (trust)
- Convert (sell your book, develop new business contacts)
For most people building an email list and knowing what to do with it will be a steep learning curve. There are a number of courses, experts and programs available on line that can teach you how to do this and some a very good. I’ve gone through a couple of the programs and some were good others not so. The real challenge for busy business people is allocating the time to go through this learning curve and allocating the time required to implement it effectively.
Where to start
Create a list (excel spread sheet will do) with the names and email addresses of all the people you have across your networks. It’ll take a bit of time but you’ll be surprised that if you spend just half an hour a day on it, you’ll have a reasonably large list within a month. Again, if you don’t want to do it pay someone else to.
Add to this the names and emails of people you’d like to connect with as well.
Once you have this you can start engaging with them through your content marketing program.
While you are writing and producing your book you might be engaging with your list every 2-4 weeks. As you get closer to the book launch this might increase to once a week as you offer free eBooks (a chapter of your book, a summary of the book etc), then special subscriber offers, pre-publication offers etc.
The timing and actual content of communications is created as part of your contenting marketing strategy and program.
Create a content marketing strategy and plan
Unless you are part of a content marketing company your content marketing plan has to be simple, actionable (probably by you) and time efficient.
So what is a content marketing plan you ask?
At its simplest level and really that’s all you need, it’s a short strategy about:
- who and where your target audience is;
- what your key messages/content/offers;
- a schedule of when you are going to engage on what platform and with what content/offer;
- how you are going to measure if your messages are getting results.
Clearly, content marketing is way more sophisticated than this, and you can contract someone or a company to create a highly detailed, deep and thorough content marketing plan and program for you. How much you are willing to invest really depends on how many books you want to sell and what level of exposure, recognition, coverage you want to achieve through your business book.
Here’s a Template for a basic content marketing plan. As you can see, this is a link to a HubSpot article.
HubSpot provide a terrific number of useful and easy-to-action templates as well as advice and commentary on content marketing. It’s their business. I’ve utilised many of their insights and free templates simply because I found them easy to use and understand. Why reinvent the wheel?
Engage your community
Once you’ve filled out your content marketing calendar you need to start posting, sharing and engaging with your selected Social Media groups.
Always encourage them to go to your website to follow your book progress. (We want to capture their email address and turn them into supporters).
Remember, it’s absolutely critical that you engage. Don’t just post your comments. Read and engage with the posts and blogs and post of others . . . and don’t be too quick to spruik you or your book. That’ll put people off. You need to build trust and interest.
What you want to do is engage . . . become part of a like-minded community. By all means share that you’re writing a book, perhaps ask some questions about some of the stuff you’re writing about . . . genuinely comment on what they are posting about.
Social media is a relationship it’s not a monologue.
Get this and you’re way ahead of tons of people in business.
What social media platform should you use?
There are a number of social media channels available to you, in fact hundreds. There are also thousands of Blogs from influencers in any field you care to name. Working out which social media channels to engage with is a challenge.
It’s important to recognise from the outset that you don’t and should not engage with them all. Just because mainstream media (television, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines) are all available for you to advertise on doesn’t mean you would or could even afford to.
Social media is the same. Again, working out where to spend your time and energy and in some cases money through AdWords, advertising, sponsored posts, guest Blogs, interviews etc is really about understanding where your target audiences are and engaging them there.
To Blog or not to Blog
If you have one you should be posting more frequently about the progress of your book at about the time it is being designed or when it’s close to going to the printer. That means you’re about 2-3 months off your book arriving and this is a good time to start building awareness.
If you don’t have one it’s not essential to start one. The reality is you’re better off focusing on driving new people to your website to capture their email through special offers etc. You can achieve this effectively through targeted social media engagement and through engagement with targeted industry association groups (open and closed).
More content does not equal growing your reader community.
If you want to start a Blog, however, there are thousands of self-help websites that can get you started. WordPress, www.wordpress.com is one of the best and easiest to use, even for those of us who are not good at using online tools.
That said, if you’re not sure what to do about Blogging, ask someone you know who does. Let’s face it, some people learn by reading the manual. In my experience, most people learn by having someone show them what to do, and even help them to set things up. This could be a colleague or friend or a professional.
The important thing to understand is that being active on specific social media and targeted industry platforms will act like a megaphone for your book marketing IF you embrace it and learn about it.
Promoting your book through social media channels is about finding readers who have an interest in your subject area and giving them compelling reasons through your posts and engagement with them to join up to your network (via opting in to your offers through providing their email).
What can you share?
- where you are up to in writing
- getting close to finishing your book.
- title options for your book
- where you are in the production process: editing, proofreading, design, checking page proofs e.t.c.;
- Key chapters
- Who you’ve interviewed
- Front cover options for the book (always gets a strong response)
- Special offers
- Launch arrangements and an invitation
- Links to interviews you’ve done on the book
- Links to reviews and media coverage
You might even select some of your network and ask them to write a review of the book…and send them one ‘in advance’ so they can do so. Endorsements and recommendations are powerful things.
Everyone in your business/business network is part of your engagement program. Everyone will have various forms of a social media presence and every one of them to a greater or lesser degree will help you promote your book journey and then your book.
Ask your colleagues, clients, fellow board directors to connect with you.
So, the main take-outs from this overview are:
- You have to build your community of readers early
- You will need to have a plan to do this
- You’ll need to execute that plan
- There are options as to how you do this (or who and what you pay for)
- You need to engage people from your target audiences in the ways in which they are interested in
- You need to have ‘conversations’ (actual and on-line) that are relevant and meaningful to build trust.
In my next post I’ll be exploring how you develop your target audience profile so that you can focus your attention on those potential readers who are most likely to be interested in what you have to share.
Meanwhile, start or keep writing and if you’re getting stuck email me: firstname.lastname@example.org