Marketing has become somewhat of a scary word in the world of publishing. The thinking goes that authors are creatives, and as such they’re naturally terrible at being salespeople. Almost every day I get an e-mail or request from an author asking if I’d be interested in taking over their marketing, because they just want to focus on writing the next book.
This is the first hurdle many authors have to overcome. Marketing is a different skill, yes. It takes time and dedication, sure. But it’s not something you should be afraid of—or at least not for the wrong reasons. Because marketing a book is not about “going out there and finding readers.” That is just as spammy and ineffective as it sounds. And it’s not how books are sold.
Think about the last book you read: why did you buy it in the first place? Is it because the author somehow tracked you down, cold-called or cold-e-mailed you, or tweeted you saying, “Hey, buy my book!”? Probably not, right? Instead, a friend may have recommended it to you, or you might have come across it while browsing virtual or physical bookshelves.
Here’s the thing: authors don’t find readers; readers find books. That’s a simple change in perspective, but a critical one for [RR1] effectively marketing your books. Marketing is not about selling your book to readers. It’s about getting readers to find it. Once you shift your perspective to the reader, you start thinking about the number-one question in book marketing: “How will readers find my book?”
Now, this is a complicated question with many answers. If you write genre fiction, it’s possible that readers will find you through:
- Browsing or searching Amazon
- A newsletter from one of your author friends recommending your book
- An existing reader sharing your book on Goodreads
- A popular review site
If you write nonfiction, they might find your book through:
- An online search
- An influencer posting about your book
- A podcast
- Your guest post on a major blog
Thinking about where readers find books like yours is the first step toward marketing them. And since I’m confident that you are a reader of the kind of books you write, you should be ideally placed to know where readers tend to find them.
The next step is simple: making sure your books show up in those places. The next few chapters will show you how to achieve that, but in the meantime I want you to take a moment to think about five to ten likely ways readers discover books in your genre. I bet this thought experiment will give you some novel ideas (pun intended) to market your book.