Building an author platform is second maybe only to thinking about book marketing strategies in terms of things AUTHORS HATE DOING. Not all writers, I'm sure. But many of us just wish we could write the thing and people would gather to read it. This interview with author and marketer Chris Syme will give you some solid tools, book marketing strategies, and maybe help you change your mindset about all this platform stuff!
Connect with Chris Syme
You can find Chris at her website, listen to the Smarty Pants Podcast (here's my interview!), follow her on Twitter, or find her over on Facebook.
Also, I HIGHLY recommend her book (affiliate link!), Sell More Books with Less Social Media. If you liked this interview, you will LOVE that. And here is the link to her free, vetted book marketing resources that she mentions in the interview!
While it's amazing that we can do so much on our own with the tools for indie publishing now, that also means that authors are often tapped out from writing, editing, formatting, and all that by the time they get to the marketing point. Social media is also dynamic (as in always changing), so it's hard to keep up and can be very frustrating to know what works right NOW.
Chris' tip: Find the one place in the marketing world where the light bulb goes off and you really click with something. Quit hating that! Find a way to like it.
These problems are universal. Get into Facebook groups and forums so that you can talk to other authors to hear what's working for them and what they're struggling with. You need some camaraderie.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) plays a big role because there are so many posts from authors talking about different platforms and how you need to be everywhere. With a new platform every week, this can totally overwhelm and freeze authors. Find the platforms that work for you and where you can SELL BOOKS. Try something and get good at it. You don't have to be on every platform 100 times a day. What works for someone else may not work for you. And not ALL advice is good advice! So be discerning and maybe be a little wary of all the advice, especially if it sounds too good to be true or too easy.
Chris recommends Facebook as the one place to be if you pick only one. The data tells us this is the place to be, with over 80% of online adults using it globally. You can't just sell your books 100% of the time on ANY platform, so you need a strategy that allows you to engage and sell in the same place. You need to engage AND you need to sell. Facebook really allows you to do that in a place where so much of the adult world is there. (Plus, Facebook ads are a really cheap and great way to advertise if you can lock it down.)
Don't use a profile to sell. Facebook doesn't want you to sell there (this is actually against their terms of service) and you can get your account shut down. Pages also have commerce tools and insights that will make it easier for you to be successful.
Don't even use your profile for engagement. Engage where you will sell. This is huge. So work to engage people on your page, where you will be selling. People struggle migrating people from their profile to their page. Use the 80/20 rule where you're engaging 80% and then 20%.
Use commerce tools. There are built-in tools on pages from developers to sell your books. You can use the Freebooksy app, for example, or embed a signup form. Check out this screenshot to see some of the ways that Facebook encourages you to use tools as you post.
Have a group for engagement. Pages were built to sell and groups were built to deepen engagement. If you have time for both, have a group to up engagement. But there are no commerce tools or insights like you'll have on a page.
Warm Audience Ads- Reach people who are already opted into your page or your email list. (You can actually upload your list--if it's big enough--to Facebook's ad manager and run ads that your list will see.) Your fans who have opted into your page are likely to sign up for your page. Then you can use warm ads to your page likes AND to your email list. Ads are also cheaper when you're running them to a warm group. (This means that they will be more effective for less money!)
Grow Your List- You can grow your list with those warm ads to your Facebook audience. People who already like your page are more likely to want to sign up for your list.
Cold Audience Ads- These are great for promoting your backlist promotions of your books (as in, not the newest books) or some of these joint author events that many authors are doing. These can also be effective for non-fiction authors who are doing courses or similar events.
Engagement vs Numbers in Email Lists- Email marketing used to be all about growth in numbers and having a giant list. Now it's all about upping open rates and engagement.
ONE LINK - Have only ONE link in each email rather than the newsletter style with a lot of links for people.
Email as Audience Research- Ask your email subscribers for feedback on marketing topics. Ask an easy question that people can reply to (like: which platforms do you use online?), enter those email addresses of responders into a giveaway, and then store and utilize that information.
Get rid of newsletters- Consider selling a one-topic email blast (that's not necessarily sales) that gets your audience engaging and maybe giving you feedback.
Use social platforms for discoverability- You can totally utilize something like Twitter as a placeholder to send people where you actually HANG OUT. You don't have time to be everywhere, so you can set up a basic account with your name and image and a link or pinned post that tells people where they can really connect.
Do you have any book marketing strategies to share? What's worked (or NOT worked) for you? Share in the comments!