How to Market Your Book
How do you market that book you worked so hard to create?
I’m not sure.
To be honest, I don’t think anyone is sure. After all, the indie-publishing industry is really so very new. Of course, that doesn't stop pundits from blasting a cacophony of conflicting advice: Social media is the answer vs. no, it’s a waste of time. Forget “old-school” techniques like press release vs. hold on, they still work.
I like what Brian Jud, author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore has to say about book marketing: “Generate quantity vs. quality of ideas initially. Develop many possible ways in which you could sell your content to your target readers and buyers.” In other words, brainstorm as many ideas as you can, and then fine-tune your approach.
I just published my 16th book—a cookbook—and I’ve taken Jud’s advice. Over the next two blogs, I plan to share what I came up with in hopes of sparking ideas for your books. I don’t claim to have all the answers. I’m just casting bread upon the waters in hopes it comes back sandwiches. (Thanks, Jean Houston, for that revised idiom!)
I’ve been baking since I was six years old and writing for 30+ years, so I figured it was time to combine these two loves. Wake Up to Toaster Cakes: Easy & Healthy Hot from the Toaster includes 37 original recipes that reinvent the toaster cakes of my childhood. Gluten-free, low-carb, and sugar-free, this new version is good for you—and tastes great. As I see it, life’s too short to eat gruel in the name of healthy. One of my must-have ingredients is joie de vivre. (Take a look inside the book here.)
So here's how I'm planning to get the word out about these original recipes:
Marketing Plan for Wake Up to Toaster Cakes
1. Create a strong website, blog, and incentive
It goes without saying that you need a website, possibly your own blog, and some kind of incentive to encourage people to give you their email addresses. That way, you can stay in touch and let them know when your book is on sale (e.g., when it’s $0.99 for a day or two) or when you launch new books.
2. Make your book description sing Write a book description that’s filled with WIIFM, i.e., what’s in it for me? Give readers the benefits and takeaways your book holds for them. And make the keywords in your description jibe with the keywords you choose for Kindle, Amazon, etc.
3. Choose the best keywords and categories This is a huge issue, but basically, you want to select the keywords that people use to find books like yours. My keywords are baking, gluten-free baking, breakfast, health & fitness, special-diet baking, sugar free and low carb. Use your best keywords when setting up your book with your publishers and distributors, in all your descriptions, and in your promotions. Read more about this here.
Categories are more challenging. Kindle and Amazon, for example, let you choose only two. Since you want the best two you can come up with, look for specialized, smaller niches in which you can stand out. (You'll get lost in "mystery" or "cookbooks.") A good place to start is by checking out the categories of top-selling books in your genre. Trouble is, when you do that on Amazon, nine times out of 10, they aren’t the categories in the list Amazon gives you to choose from! So, how do those authors get those categories? Well, I’m not sure, but I do know if you publish through Kindle, you can request the same categories of the top-sellers by writing to Kindle here. Same with CreateSpace—just log into your CS account and click on Contact Us.
4. Tie your launch into something bigger Early in my career, I did public relations for arts organizations, so I knew about the advantages of hitching something to a bigger story. But timing can be tricky—too often I’d have a perfect topic for a holiday feature, but it launched in late March! This time, though, I lucked out. Instead of just an interesting press release announcing the book’s launch, I realized these toaster cakes are the perfect back-to-school breakfast—and over the next six weeks, editors will be addressing that perennial event. I’ve revamped my press release with a back-to-school theme and a suggestion that kids can learn how to make these easy recipes, too.
5. Find editors interested in your topics I’ve researched about 60 newspaper food editors. Yes, it’s old-school marketing, but I agree with the pundits who think this still works. I’ll send the editors the press release now to give them plenty of time to add it to the back-to-school feature they’re likely already planning.
6. Contact targeted magazines and newsletters Magazines are not as easy to work with as newspapers because of their long lead times (at least three months). I won’t benefit from the back-to-school theme, but fall and holiday baking hold promise.
7. Connect with bloggers I want to find opportunities for guest blog posts, so I’m researching bloggers interested in food, baking, special-diet food prep, and parent blogs (because these toaster cakes are healthy and easy—and, as I just mentioned, kids can make them, too). Of course, I can’t just brag to their readers about my book; I need to share baking tips and a couple of recipes.
8. Think symbiosis Many of the extracts and spices I used in these recipes came from one of my favorite stores in Santa Rosa—Savory Spice Shop, a national company with a strong online presence. I plan to approach them to feature the book in their blog and/or sell it in their stores. Since I specifically mention them throughout the book as an excellent resource, this should be a good lead. (Ideally, I would have contacted them sooner, but ideas come when they come.)
9. Use social media I’m in the Tim Grahl camp about social media. (Tim is one of my favorites in the book-marketing world and offers lots of good resources here.) For me, social media works well for outreach. I’ll use it to announce my book and develop new connections. And share writing tips to help people with their own writing at the same time I keep them informed about my characters and sequels. But I haven’t seen any evidence over the past eight years of indie publishing and marketing that social media translates into sales. It does, however, help build my platform.
That’s enough for now. Next time, I’ll share nine more book-marketing ideas I’m pursuing. Let me know how these first steps might work—or have worked—for you. If you have any questions so far, or want to set up a free 30-minute chat about writing and marketing your book, just go to www.lyndamcdanielbooks.com/contact.