There are substantial differences between marketing and promoting. These are two separate operations, one including the other. In order to gain visibility for a recently published or self-published book, it is a good idea to keep two separate stages when planning the strategy to reach readers for the book.
Publishing used to be mission nearly impossible – now each and everyone has access to the tools to publish whatever takes their fancy. Rumor has it that there are more writers than readers, though most writers are also readers, so this is only true when removing the writers from the total numbers of readers.
Yet, there is a lot of reading material out there! Over 6 million books on Amazon alone and over 750,000 ebooks on Kindle.
So, the main thing to realize is that putting a book ‘out there’ is barely more efficient than leaving it in your desk’s drawer. No one will find it, as they will not be looking for it, though they might occasionally stumble across it – about as likely as stumbling across the proverbial needle in a haystack 🙂
In other words, working hard to raise awareness of the existence of you book is not an option, if you want it to be read, and ideally bought that is. People have to be told where to find it as well as shown why they should read your book rather than the other ones.
This implies a combination of market definition and promotion. Those are the two stages of marketing. People use those two words indifferently, but that’s because they are not professional publicists, and they don’t know. Professionals know very well that promotion is only the last stage of marketing.
The foundations of marketing entail defining and looking for a target audience, delineate which sector of the population is most likely to read your brand of writing. Marketing means matching; naming, identifying and finding the best channels to reach the likely audience for the book. With the advent of the Internet and the ebook, this implies sorting through the entire reading population of the language the book is written in, and not a geographical area anymore.
For free (considering time is free of course) marketing – both market definition and promotion, the Internet is by far the best tool. A clever use of searching with advanced options, selecting appropriate keywords, limiting search to blogs, for example, will immediately yield a sample of potential platforms ideally suited to promote a specific book.
For example, a search for : “YA books” AND “alternate universe” limited to blogs would give a selection of blogs that are interested in both these topics, i.e. the ideal target audience for a book for young adult taking place in an alternate universe.
So, the first step is to draw lists:
What do you write? This is where you define your book genre, or genres, or lack of there of if your book does not fit into any established genre, though the list of new genres is growing, so there should be a fit somewhere for your book.
For whom? This is where to define the demographics of your target audience, i.e., best suited for men, woman, pensioners, baby boomers generation, X or Y generation , teenagers, people with a degree etc.
Who might like it? A more difficult concept to define. This can be defined by trying to make bridges between common interest for your book main topic and other topics. Say, though this might also be widely inaccurate, that legal thrillers might be appealing to lawyers or law students.
What are the best keywords to identify target audience? Based on the three previous lists, it is time to identify both short and long tail keywords with which to perform the research for targeted platforms.
Then use the list to perform the research. That is identifying the audience, and the potential platform, the first part of the marketing stage.
Only then comes the time to move on to promotion.
Promotion is about actually putting the word out there, which can only be done after defining where “there” actually is.
More about different tactics to achieve that next week.