Access to social media seems to have us all dabbling in marketing, doesn’t it? We spend hours every week absorbing and creating what ultimately boils down to marketing material – whether we call it that or not. Our posts are “selling” a lifestyle, an image, and a digital persona. Every time we share something on social media we’re shaping our digital footprint and – intentionally or accidentally – marketing ourselves.
But what about when it’s time to sell an actual product or a book? Will your day-to-day “marketing” experience actually help? The answer falls somewhere between a resounding yes and decided no. We mustn’t mistake casual experience for expertise. Using marketing tools doesn’t make you a marketing expert. But with a defined message, a trusted community, and a bit of strategy, social media can help almost anyone do some quality marketing.
How do you sell your book like you know what you’re doing — even if you aren’t a marketing professional?
These five tips will help you get started when it’s time to market your book.
Start Before the Book is Finished
Recruiting a core group of supporters is something to start early. Find your team of cheerleaders, get them engaged, and make them a part of the project. Share the ups and downs of the creative process with them. Ask them for advice and input. Get them invested in what you’re doing. This team will make your book better, they will keep you sane as you write, and eventually, they’ll help you sell your book.
Admit You Can’t Do it Alone
It’s time to start calling in favors. Reach out to people with a different sphere of influence than your own and get them talking about (and hopefully buying) your book.
The hardest part is summoning the courage to put yourself out there. After you’ve done it once, it becomes exponentially easier the second time and third time, I promise. I’ve discovered that if you’re reasonably pleasant or even just a marginally kind individual, people want to lend a hand. As I’ve asked for help promoting my book, I’ve found that people are excited to get involved. They want to be supportive and pitch in when they can.
Asking for help is hard. But failing because you didn’t ask for help is downright silly. Don’t be silly; ask for help.
Of course, it’s also imperative that when someone asks, “Can I help?” you always answer, “Yes.” Or if they ask, “How can I help?” you must know how they can. Accept every favor (assuming there are no weird strings attached). Don’t underestimate how big seemingly “little” help can be in the end.
Don’t be a Broken Record
It’s tempting to post, post, post about your book and ignore all else on social media. Don’t be that guy. Just because this is the biggest thing happening in your life doesn’t mean that’s true for everyone else.
Continue to promote others’ work. Continue to share about other things happening in the world. Continue to be the person they invited into their feed, otherwise you’re likely get the dreaded “unfollow.”
Flex a New Set of Skills
When I announced that I was writing a book, I had my friend Bradley Glanzrock create a video of me being goofy to make the announcement. The video did really well on Facebook, and it got me thinking that video would be a great component to add to my email updates (want to receive them?). And since I didn’t think it would be fair/friendly to ask Brad to create a new video for me every few weeks, I realized that I needed to learn some very basic video production skills.
What could you learn to help promote your product? What creative arrow could you add to your professional quiver? Go ahead; exercise your brain, improve your resume, and save a little money in the long run by keeping the creative in-house.
Rely on Professionals When it’s Time
Once you’ve done all of this, you’re ready to launch and, more importantly, you’re ready to call in the cavalry. If you want to market your book like you know what you’re doing, you need to hire people who actually know what they’re doing. Sure, a defined voice, a mobilized community, and some moxie will take you far. But you know what will take you further? An expert.
Identify where you could most use professional help, and hire a professional. Perhaps you could benefit from some media training to prepare you for all of those interviews that will be coming your way. Maybe you could use a community manager to help schedule and oversee your digital real estate. Or maybe, you need someone to copy edit all the articles, emails, and press releases you’ll be writing. I’ve said it before, if you’re writing without a copy editor, you’re doing it wrong. Knowing Carrie Koens will be looking at everything I put out on the internet is a comfort. Putting her on retainer was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made. Find your Carrie, and put her to work.
There’s plenty you can do to sell your book, even if you aren’t a seasoned marketing expert. In the end though, it’s important to assess your situation with honesty. It would be a shame if your product didn’t sell because you tried to do it all on your own. Recognize what you can do, accept what is beyond your scope, then do yourself a favor, and hire a professional.