January 1, 2020

Why your book marketing isn’t working (and what to do instead)

by Belinda Griffin

Does book promotion ever feel like shouting into the wind? You’re doing all the things - blogging, emailing, posting on social media - and yet you’re struggling to be heard above the noise and book sales are flat.

The good news is, you don’t need to do more of the same. In fact, a simple shift in your efforts could make a significant difference to your success.

No one cares about you

The problem is, you’re going about book marketing the wrong way, or rather, the old school way of pushing what you have to sell on any unsuspecting passerby.

As Steven Pressfield succinctly puts it, ‘Nobody wants to read your shit.’

The point Steven is making is that people are busy and have limited attention, so we have to be clear and direct with our marketing messages (and in other forms of writing to, as it happens).

We also need to try our best to get in front of the people we most want to reach, otherwise what’s the point? Posting on social media feels like shouting into the void because often that’s exactly what it is.

Instead, you need to connect with your ideal readers. Go where they are, seek them out and speak to them in a way that will get their attention. You want to position yourself where you can be seen and give something of value so people are keen to find out more about you.

Attract readers by leveraging existing audiences

So how do you position yourself where you can be seen?

Well, you could start a blog or podcast of your own to share great content and attract readers to you. However, that’s the hard, slow way. Growing an audience for a blog or podcast is just as difficult as building one for a book!

I recommend you leverage those audiences that other people have built instead. If you already know the blogs and podcasts your ideal readers are interested in, pitch yourself as a guest on those.

Growing your author platform, which will support book sales, is all about improving your visibility and discoverability. By guest posting on other people’s blogs, podcasts, speaking stages and social media channels you generate your own publicity and get yourself in front of more of your ideal readers, spread the word about you and your book and let more people know you exist.

Let me repeat that. To attract readers you need an outreach strategy that leverages other people’s audiences and secures you your very own publicity.

Here is a very simple outline of this process:

  1. Research blogs, podcasts and social media influencers whose audiences include your target readers
  2. Pitch yourself as a guest on those blogs and podcasts and connect with social media influencers. (To get started, simply follow them and take note of what they share and what gets the most engagement.)
  3. Offer something (a reader magnet) to readers/listeners of the blogs/podcasts to move them to your email list.
  4. Nurture your list!
  5. Let your list know about your books—make sales and gather reviews!

Get out of your comfort zone

Is this all easier said than done? Definitely. Is it easier than trying to grow a platform from scratch on your own blog, podcast or Amazon page? Yes, absolutely! Does it mean getting out of your comfort zone, facing possible rejection, talking about yourself and your book, which may feel uncomfortable? Most likely, yes.

Is it worth it? Hell yes.

Curious about how to get started? Download my free 7-step guide to growing your author platform!


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