Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do You Waste Time and Money on Useless Book Marketing?

Guest post by Jan Bear

For many authors, book marketing is overwhelming and exhausting. Experts tell authors how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest; and then there's blogging and guest blogging, participating in Goodreads, answering questions at forums, blog commenting. And that's not even to mention all the offline promotion.

On top of that, reliable sources say that your best marketing for this book is your next book.

The array of options is dizzying, and your time is limited. The truth is, any of those methods can work - for the right audience. And none of them will work for the wrong audience.

Target Marketing Is the Key

The principle of finding and meeting the right audience is at the heart of restoring sanity to your book marketing efforts. In marketing circles, it's called target marketing, and it involves finding the people who are most likely to want your book, and speaking directly to them. Once you know your target market, the rest of your decisions fall into place.

Choosing Your Book's Topic

Target Marketing for AuthorsThe best time to start thinking about your audience is before you write your book. Knowing your audience can help you find an unmet need that your book can answer. If you're a doctor writing about diabetes, you may find out that there are many books about adult-onset diabetes but not enough about juvenile -- or vice versa.

Target marketing can tell you if the audience will support the effort you're planning to put into writing the book. If only a small audience shares your passion for the Atlantic hagfish, you may not want to devote years of effort on a massive exploration of its beauties, but instead write a short ebook to start building awareness and an audience.

Writing Your Book

Once you've chosen your topic, knowing your audience can help you write a more successful book.

If you're writing fiction, how you tell the story depends on who you're talking to. Children or adults? Science fiction or romance fans? People familiar with your setting or someone who has never been there? If you keep your audience in view, you'll help them enter into the story you're telling.

If you're writing nonfiction, knowing your audience will solve similar questions, such as how well versed they are in your topic and how much -- if any -- jargon to use. If you're writing to an audience reading English as a foreign language, you'll want to cut down on the idiomatic expressions, such as "Elvis has left the building." If you're writing to a hyperlocal audience, you might want to use the dialect of the people you're talking to.

Designing Your Website and Marketing Materials

If you know your target market, you can choose colors, images and fonts that make sense to them, make them feel at home. You will help them see you as one of themselves and view you as a trusted authority.

People are reading these nonverbal signals all the time - on the cover of your book, when they arrive at your website, when they pick up a promotional postcard at a book fair. They're asking, "Is this for me?" and they make that decision very quickly, before they've even had a chance to think about it.

You want to make sure you connect with your people, because otherwise the right ones won't see your book, and the wrong ones will be disappointed (and give bad reviews) if they read it.

Finding Your Readers Online

Now that you know who your audience is, you can invest your time in social media wisely. If your book is business-to-business, LinkedIn might be your best bet. If it's fiction, Goodreads will serve you better. You can use Twitter's search function to find your people on Twitter. The result is you're not talking about hours of browsing the social sites, but instead you can budget your time to get the best use out of it.

Meeting Your Audience Offline

When you know your audience, you can laser target your advertising and promotion efforts offline to make the most of your marketing budget. You can also find targeted audiences of people predisposed to like your work.

One woman, whose novel involved a beauty shop operator, set up a book signing in her hair dresser's salon. Another, whose murder mystery involved a racehorse, got a book signing at a horse racing arena and sold out all the hardbacks she took to the event.

By focusing on your audience, you can find where they congregate and get your book in front of them. So much easier than trying to scream loud enough to be heard by everybody. 

Finding Your Book's Target Audience

Finding your book's target market takes some thought and imagination -- but authors have plenty of that. By crafting your message to the people most receptive, you not only save time and money on your marketing budget, but you also save yourself from the unnecessary discouragement of having the wrong people saying, "No."

There's never been a book that "everybody" liked. Embrace that, and find your people. Speak to them in words and images that they relate to. You'll find that your book marketing -- and the next book's writing -- go much more smoothly. 

About the Author

Jan Bear helps authors build their online platform even if they don't have any experience producing for the web. She writes about book marketing at She is the author of a new book, Target Marketing for Authors, available at fine online booksellers.
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