Most writers find the job of marketing quite tedious, and anyone who has trolled the internet for hours on end hoping to stumble on the magic answer has felt the apparent futility of this exercise. Nonetheless, marketing your books is important to your ultimate success. How much time should you spend on it?
The simple answer is, a lot of time needs to be spent on marketing, and it does work over time. However, if you truly are a writer, you should not spend more time marketing than writing. The availability of more options for readers from the same author can be one of the best catalysts of books sales. Readers often impulsively buy a book from an author after enjoying reading one of that writer’s books. This strongly suggests that writers must not stop writing in order to do marketing exclusively.
Faced with the dilemma of balancing marketing versus writing time, prioritizing your marketing activities is crucial. Sitting at the end of the endless Google search fire hose and hoping to find a magic answer is not usually productive activity. You may find some useful suggestions and helpful links that way, but you need to switch into the mode of activity, rather than research, to begin to influence the sales of your books.
Outside of having multiple books to sell, perhaps the most important marketing activity is having someone else recommend your book. The more recommendations and positive reviews you can get the better off you will be. This helps your book show up on search queries and other promotional lists at sites like Amazon.com, and that increases the likelihood of attracting the attention of authors, book clubs, blog writers, and reviewers.
Before your book is even published and loaded onto online bookstores, dedicate time to solicit reviews from anyone you know, or anyone who may seem interested. Start with your family, then your friends, work colleagues, college alumni and expand to social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, and get as many reviews and recommendations as possible. In your search for the magic answer, you may have come across people who will write a review for money. These reviews are no more effective at attracting readers than a review from your uncle.
Give books away to as many of these people as you can in exchange for a recommendation or review. Promote a book giveaway on a site like Goodreads.com, and other web sites that attract thousands of readers or people interested in your topic. Running on competition with a book as a prize on your own web site or Facebook page may not reach the large audience of the popular sites, but it is a very useful way to build your own audience and email list.
Of course, if the primary purpose of your book is to lend credibility to your business, then the marketing of your book takes on an entirely different perspective. In this case, the book itself is a marketing tool to help promote your business, and the marketing for your business includes the book. Giving the book away to prospective clients or at seminars and workshops can be a very helpful way of highlighting your expertise. Writing articles on the subject matter of your book on your own blog and on other related blog sites also expands your reach effectively.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to marketing for a first-time author. A guaranteed five-step program that will sell tens of thousands of copies of your book does not exist. However, ignoring the marketing process is closer to a guarantee that your next book and the one after that will sit on the shelf. The trick is in achieving the right balance. Marketing takes time away from writing, and writing takes time away from marketing. Focus your marketing on the highest priority methods that yield the best results, and focus your writing on your highest priority, which is to release your next book. Do both and optimize your sales potential.