This is third in a (loose) series: Should YOU Self-Publish Your Nonfiction Book?
Self-publishing your book means that you are in charge of marketing that book. If it makes you feel any better, most of the marketing burden falls on the author anyway, whether they are self or traditionally published.
Marketing any product or service is an ongoing activity and the marketing skills needed to self-publish your book will include both creative and technical skills, as well as tenacity.
The Creative Side of Marketing Skills
Copywriting. I’m going to count copywriting as a creative skill, because, while there are technical aspects to copywriting, it really is a creative endeavor.
Admittedly, I get lazy about copywriting. I know I need to be compelling, “sell the sizzle,” craft a hook, and create an offer that no one in their right mind would pass on. Which is followed by a call to action that’s easy to follow and needs to be done urgently.
I get it. I teach it.
But I don’t hire out as a copywriter for a reason. I just can’t be that fecking enthusiastic about all things all day long. That being said, I have a knack for finding the “angle” to selling a product or service. That part of it is fun for me. And, when called upon, I can write some fun, inspired copy that converts. (Which is the whole point of copywriting.) But it’s not my passion. Some people like the challenge of finding a new way to sell avocados or yet another how-to course. My life is challenging enough.
Branding. What constitutes a brand? It is, as Honey and Blaine Parker, authors of Billion Dollar Branding will tell you, more than picking out colors and a logo. (I HIGHLY recommend their book.) Yes, part of your branding is creating a consistent visual message: colors, logos, fonts. But more important is the experience that your readers and clients have with you. You want your brand to reflect your style; you want your core message embedded in everything you do. That means you need to figure out what your core message is. Remember that expression How you do anything is how you do everything? That how is probably your brand or part of it.
Public Speaking. One of the best ways to market your book or your business is to give talks and interviews. So, yes, some technical skills are called for, but mostly you need to be comfortable talking to strangers, whether it is several hundred people in an audience or being interviewed by a podcaster. You want to have “sound bites” prepped that you can work in organically as you’re speaking. Most of all, you have to provide something that an event promoter or interviewer’s audience wants or needs.
The Technical Side of Marketing Skills
Figuring out Categories, Keywords, and SEO. KDP/Amazon has recently changed the way authors can choose categories. Previously, you could choose two categories for your book to be shown in. Once published, you could send an email to KDP requesting that your book be put in up to eight more categories, for a total of ten. That’s changed.
Amazon now allows you to choose three categories when uploading your book and requesting more is a thing of the past. However, Amazon can choose to put your book into categories it thinks are a good fit for your book. So, even though you can only choose three, your book may end up in more categories.
That’s why understanding how to research keywords for your book is so important. Amazon goes off the categories and keywords you chose and your book description. You’re allowed to choose up to seven keywords or keyword phrases. But if there are other keywords that are good, you will want to work them into your book description.
I use Publisher Rocket for my keyword and category research. It allows me to see how much competition there is for a keyword and more important, how many people search on certain keyword phrases. It is amazing how one phrase will have fewer than 100 searches a month while a slight variation of that same phrase will have over 500 or even 1,000 searches a month. That’s the kind of competitive edge your book needs to gain visibility.
Internet Skills. You’ll also need Internet skills such as maintaining your website, posting on social media, sending emails, and the beat goes on. I worked with many clients who had hired a website designer and had no idea how to log into their website to make a blog post or add a product. Many of those sites had been up for years with the same original three blog posts that the web designer had uploaded. If you’re an author, you need to blog. Even if you’re doing a video blog, you need to be able to embed links to your videos on a blog page.
You don’t have to build your own website, but you do need to be able to go in, create a blog post, update any plugins, edit a page, add a picture or product, etc.
Posting on social media is a time suck. The idea is to post something memorable on all your social media platforms, respond to any comments, and then get off. To that end, it is good to use a posting service. Facebook allows you to schedule posts in groups and on your page. I use an automated posting service (Publer.io) for baseline social media presence. I have uploaded a number of memes and posts that rotate through my feeds automatically. I also have an RSS feed so that any new blog posts are sent to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Basic Research. Knowing how to find where your tribe of readers hangs out. Figuring out how to send out a press release. Finding podcasts or radio shows that would be interested in having you on as a guest. I am constantly amazed that so many questions are asked in forums that a simple Google search could answer.
Marketing Never Stops
Sorry. I hate that, too. Marketing is a cumulative process. Each piece of marketing is one more brick in the wall.
Marketing (and self-publishing) is a constantly changing landscape. If you need to add to your marketing skills, my book, The 8 Step Marketing Plan, can help. In it, I advise people to choose three marketing methods (no more than three) and let them run. If one is not working at all after three months, then change to another. But you need to give your marketing time (and room) to work.
Thinking about self-publishing your book but don’t know where to start? I can help. I wrote a fabulous(!) mini-course that walks you through the self-publishing process step-by-step, with lots of insider tips that will help your book look and be it’s best! Find out more here: Self-Publishing Mini-Course