Book publishing and marketing has evolved in the past couple of years, placing more and more emphasis on authors maintaining a multi-channel social media presence, making their works accessible on mobile devices like apps, and even cultivating the direct relationships and interactions they have with their audience.
Covering all these bases are especially important for independent authors who must go the extra mile to receive the same type of attention or recognition they may receive from working with a traditional publisher. Fortunately, in this digital age, indie authors have plenty of tools at their disposal to get a generous piece of the pie. Audiences are increasingly becoming more inclined to seek out content from an array of sources, as long as it is highly relevant to what they’re looking for.
Therefore, creating a digital presence beyond your works alone is key to quickly connect with millions of users. When developing your marketing campaign, keep the following three things in mind:
The Audience First
As an author, one of the toughest things to identify will probably be your target audience. While ideally, you may want the entire world to love your work and help raise you to the pinnacle of success, the truth is you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And quite frankly, maybe you don’t want to be. Targeting a niche audience when marketing your book usually results in a more fervent readership – one that is passionate about you and your work and has the enthusiasm to share amongst their own audience.
So, before you start strategizing around sales, build your audience base first and get to know them. Find out where they like to hang out online, the types of platforms they mostly use, the types of content they consume and how they are accessing that content. Show your readers that you understand them by providing them thoughtful content - whether you’re regularly blogging, publishing short stories or posting on social media - and communicating with them in a way that accurately represents your brand. When it finally comes time to organize the majority of your attention on selling your book, your multi-platform presence will be to your advantage.
Today’s average consumer uses up to 6 different touch points before making a purchase, and while this is representative of the overall retail industry (not just book sales), it still sheds light on a typical consumer’s shopping behavior. In the same way people may read customer reviews, check price comparisons or browse a company’s social media channels, readers may want to see an author’s presence across many platforms to find reviews, check price comparisons, or read excerpts.
Readers today have access to so many different avenues to not only consume information but interact with its creators and other readers about it; and if they love it, they’ll share it. Knowing this, it’s beneficial not to rely on a single platform to build awareness for your brand and work. Being platform agnostic gives you the opportunity to reach a wider audience; and as mentioned before, the more platforms you’re on, the more opportunities you have to develop trust and legitimacy in your brand.
If you’re expanding across multiple platforms, there’s one overarching rule: continuously generate quality, brand-consistent content, or platform-specific content to be specific. Each platform has its own type of users and set of unwritten guidelines that determine the way it needs to be navigated, so it’s necessary to build a unique experience on each one. You won’t know which platforms will help you realize your marketing goals until you try.
At the end of the day, however, not every platform is going to prove fruitful for you; and that’s okay. Testing, testing, and more testing is all part of determining which platforms actually deliver and fine-tuning your marketing strategy based on the results. There will be certain platforms you’ll want to allot more of your attention to because realistically, you won’t have all the time and money in the world to give 100% to each one.
Examples of Author Platforms
The more established an author’s presence is on various platforms, the easier it will be to attract the attention of larger publishers and booksellers. Also, the more established your presence already is, the more authority you’ll have in your partnerships with said businesses. But regardless of whether you’re pursuing a partnership with a traditional publisher or choosing to self-publish, it’s still tough to get there. In your journey to getting discovered (and onwards), here are a few types of author platforms you could consider using:
- Social Media – Offer your followers entertaining and valuable content that they’d enjoy, such as little bits of flash- or micro-fiction. You can also use social media to network with important people in the industry or immerse yourself in thoughtful discussions with other users.
- Blog –Build a large blog readership, which can help you draw in publishers or important people in the industry and serve as an important marketing tool for promoting your book.
- Short Stories – Get short stories published in magazines or genre-related websites to give your potential readership an idea of your writing style and who you are as an author.
- Speaking Engagements – By making yourself an expert in a particular topic/subject (preferably related to your works), you can get invited to speak at notable events and get a chance to meet your readership in person.
- Podcasts – A little like an informal version of a speaking engagement, podcasting is a great opportunity to showcase your personality and expertise in a subject matter.
To recap: put in the work to get to know who your target audience is and what type of platforms you can reach that audience on. Don’t limit yourself to just one platform; experiment with a variety and develop individualized content for each one. Focus most of your energy on the platforms that work best for you and your brand, but more importantly, never get too comfortable to stop testing and experimenting with others. The digital world is constantly moving, and most likely, so are your readers.