As more and more authors turn to self-publishing as a way to circumvent some of the challenges they face in more traditional publishing venues, many are taking on multiple roles without realizing it. Marketer. Editor. Proofreader. Bookkeeper. And, of course, salesperson.
Depending upon what your goals are, you may be comfortable throwing your book up on Amazon and not doing anything else. Or, you may want to set up an affiliate section or your website or manage your own retail store. When you start getting into offering your book for sale, whether you’re focusing on affiliate sales or not, then you cross over into the roles of an internet retailer. While that path may not be right for you, it’s something to think about after you’re ready to take the next step with your book.
The big thing, though, is to recognize the difference between marketing and selling your new book. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. — SOURCE: American Marketing Association
I look at marketing as a way to build awareness of yourself and your work. Sales, on the other hand, is focused on the exchange of money for goods and services. Although they often go hand-in-hand, they’re two different things. Saying “buy my book” isn’t a marketing technique; it’s the hard sell. Telling your readers what your book is about, on the other hand, falls under that marketing umbrella.
What can often lead to sales, however, isn’t just the hard sell because readers can be turned off by overly aggressive sales tactics. Marketing is often easier, because it’s more than simply telling your readers your books are on sale or where they can buy them. It’s also about asking them to take an action. Maybe you request reviews off your blog. Maybe you have a contest for readers to enter. Maybe you offer an additional cover or provide a limited edition to select readers.
To help put things into perspective, I recommend making lists to organize your thoughts about how you want to treat your books. Here are some things you can do to work through this process:
- What are you comfortable telling your readers?
- Have you mentioned all the places your books are available for sale?
- Do you want to sell books through your own website?
- What does a typical promotion look like for you?
- Have you compared notes with other authors?
Separating the two concepts in your mind will allow you to think about ways to mention yourself and your books in new and interesting ways. You don’t have to be very sophisticated when you promote your books, but nailing the basics and thinking about a marketing plan may help both you and your readers get more out of what you’re doing. Have any marketing tips to share? Feel free to mention them in the comments below.