38% of Authors Have No Idea Where to Start When It Comes to Marketing

Ask any cross-section of authors what they struggle with the most with book marketing and the answer is likely to be, “I don’t know where to start.”

I liken this to asking someone who needs to lose weight for health reasons saying, “I don’t know where to start.”

Really?

With so much information readily available through books, Google searches, websites, blogs and social media groups, it’s not for lack of knowing that stops most people from achieving an outcome. It’s taking the first step. It’s also about the fear of doing it wrong that holds many people back.

Survey Says

Not long ago, I surveyed several hundred authors. I wanted to know what stops the majority from selling more than a handful of books.

Actually, I DO know why they don’t sell many books… marketing … or lack thereof. What I really wanted to know is more about their resistance to marketing.

“What’s your greatest challenge with marketing and selling your book?” was the only question I asked.

The results were as follows:

38% knowledge
33% time
17% money
7% fear
5% other

Google Rocks

If knowledge is your challenge, start with the obvious; a Google search. There’s ample information available online on how to market a book.

Therein lies part of the problem. There’s so much information, one can easily become overwhelmed. Overwhelm can stop us in our tracks. It can also make us chase squirrel after squirrel after squirrel.

Not only is there ample information, there’s conflicting information. The question arises, “Who do I listen to?”

Whenever I want to get good, even great, at something there are three primary places I seek out information.

  • Those who have succeeded at “the thing”
  • Coaches … with a track record
  • Mastermind groups

Successful Authors

When I think of successful authors, I think of those who make money with their books and in most cases, are bestselling authors.

Granted, you don’t need to be a bestselling author to be successful, but often the two go together.

The term “bestselling author” can be misleading. Many people claim to be bestsellers when they get in the top 100 of an Amazon category.

You can sell ten books and get in the top 100. When someone calls themselves a bestseller by simply getting in the top 100 of a category, they are not a “real” bestselling author. It’s super easy to get in the top 100 of a category. Avoid falling into this misleading bestseller status trap.

Becoming a “real” bestselling author takes a heck of a lot more than selling ten books on Amazon.

If you want to find bestsellers, look to those who are in the top ten overall in Amazon. That takes work.

Or look to these lists on ABA IndieBound (ABA),  Barnes & Noble (BAN), Publishers Weekly (PBW),  USA Today (USA),  The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and The Los Angeles Times (LAT).

Getting on the top of any of these lists takes a heck of a lot more than selling ten books. You must sell thousands upon thousands of books within a specified period of time.

Putting a list of authors together from these resources will give you lots to work with when it comes to identifying marketing strategies.

Once you compile a list of target authors, research what they’ve done in their marketing. Granted, some of what they do may be costlier than you care to invest.

However, you will be able to find places they’ve been interviewed such as podcast shows, radio and television, magazines, blogs and trade journals.

This list is a great place to start your outreach for interview opportunities. Interviews open lots of opportunity such as other interviews, speaking invitations and people hopping right over to Amazon to buy your book while they are listening to an interview.

Follow authors and experts

One author I follow is Cheryl Strayed. As the author of several books, it was her persistence AND the release of her wildly successful book, Wild, that put her on the map…big time. Lots of people think she was an overnight success. Nothing could be further from the truth. She worked at her craft for decades before Wild turned things around.

Her level of success is one I admire. Additionally, those who enjoy her memoir, would likely enjoy my soon-to-be-released memoir. Thus, I look to her strategies as those that would work well for me.

I also follow what Reese Witherspoon is doing. In that she is the person responsible for the movie Wild being released, she is worth learning from.

Coaches and mentors

There’s nothing to compare with knowledgeable coaches and mentors to help you through the times you most need a skilled guide. I’ve worked with some amazing coaches in various areas of my life including business, speaking, writing, health, fitness and finances.

Currently, I have a writing coach (even though I’ve been writing for decades). As well, I have a fitness coach (even though I’ve studied health and fitness extensively).

I doubt I will ever outgrow the need for coaches. The day I think I have it all figured out is the day I’m destined to fail.

Coaches push us, guide us, get us through the times we hit a wall.

A good book marketing coach is worth their weight in gold. However, make sure you hire someone who really knows what they are doing.

Mastermind Groups

I can’t say enough about the power of a mastermind group. Basically, a mastermind group is a group of like-minded individuals with a common goal.

The first place I learned about mastermind groups is in the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. A classic, Think and Grow Rich is a favorite of entrepreneurs around the globe.

It would be worth picking up a copy and immersing yourself into the information outlined by the author to learn more about mindset, mastermind groups and success.

There are mastermind groups of every type. Overall, they are designed to provide support, inspiration, problem-solving and ideas.

Some groups have a specific leader while other groups change out leadership. As with anything, there are groups you will resonate with and others, not so much.

The goal with a group is to find those who will push and encourage you while stretching you to be the best you can be.

Do It Yourself or Hire Someone

If you’re serious about becoming a successful author, do what successful authors do…learn how to market and/or hire someone to help you with your marketing.

Even when you hire someone, it helps to know as much about the marketing as possible. The more you know, the more you will gain visibility as an author. The more visibility you gain, the more books you will likely sell. The more you sell, the more you can keep doing what you love to do…write books.

After all, isn’t making money while influencing others through our writing the dream of most authors? It sure is for me.

Think You’re Ready

On August 24 – 25, 2017, I'm hosting a very intimate gathering in my office for serious minded authors who are READY to deep dive into their book marketing. This is NOT for those who are not willing to play full out and have a fully developed plan at the end of the two days. Limited to six participants. To find out if this is for you, please email me at kathleen@kathleengage.com. Subject line: 2 Day Author Deep Dive Inquiry.

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Comments

  1. That’s me, not sure where or how to start. My granddaughter and I are putting a cookbook together (okay not a large book, but it’s a start) that will be some family recipes and others quick, easy and inexpensive dinners. The ideas are there, just have to get moving on it.

  2. Thanks Kathleen! As always, your advice is sound and seems like common sense. I think some of us simply need that kick in the pants!

  3. Is there a listing somewhere of people to hire to help market? I’d love to have someone take over tweets, FB group posts, maybe improve my website, etc.! The marketing is really robbing me of time to write my third novel.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      There are many sites that have people listed such as ODesk, eLance, and UpWork. However, due your homework before hiring someone. Check references and don’t give a bit job to start with. You can also check with people you know on social media and find out who they use. Again, always check references and quality of work.

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