Book Marketing 101 by Bobby Ozuna

Bobby Ozuna is a public speaker,  internet talk show host, co-founder to the READ3Zero foundation for kids, host to blog talk radio’s The Indie Author Show, and the author of Proud Souls. I am pleased that Bobby has allowed me to post this information about book marketing. Bobby says:

By demand and an earnest desire to help the many people who appear lost when it comes to the most effective way to brand or market themselves, I thought I would offer some tips for consideration when working to develop a place for your business, organization or art–outside of the actual product. This is what’s called brand-building.

A vast majority of my work involves authorship, but these tips can be applied to any business venture. If you wish to sale a product, then you have to learn to think beyond the product. It’s not good enough to say (using books as an example) [that] “I wrote a book and now everyone should buy it.” Like any successful business, you have to first consider the consumer. People spend money everyday, on something or many things–some of which are true desires to possess (needs) and others are simply purchases based on a good sale to their desire to own something else (wants).

Here are some things to consider when establishing a brand or marketability within your respective field. I use book publishing or authorship as an example here, but you should truly consider aspects of these examples when working to sell your product, contrary to what that may be.

1. Establishing a Web Presence

What does your website signify and is it created and written (and re-worked on a continual basis) to help search engines (potential customers) find you? How much time do you spend learning about the best ways to optimize (SEO) your website and online presence?

In today’s fast moving society of high-tech gadgetry it isn’t enough for an author to be content with simply “having a book on Amazon” (or any other online retail store). It is not acceptable either for an author to say, “I don’t know how to do this stuff” or worse “I can’t learn it.” Whether you chose to publish independently or had little or no choice to see your work in print, if you plan on making a dent in today’s book buying consumer base, then you will have to learn how to establish (at the very least) a web presence that builds on your credibility of your book(s) subject material. If you aren’t interested in building a website or quite possibly, can’t afford a good web developer/designer, there are many free tools you can utilize. Something after all, is better than nothing at all. Personally, I am a fan of blogs and all their optimization (SEO) functionalities to help you gather customers based on your sites material. Establishing a web presence is easy but maintaining the data and staying current is the hard part, because it requires continual effort. I have listed some points to consider as you design and refine your marketing plan.

Questions you might ask yourself when evaluating your present website and/or blog, including any social networking media you might incorporate.

What does my website signify? What does it say about me as a person or literary professional? Are you utilizing every social networking site for fun, or to help establish your place in relation to your artwork? For instance, many people use Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and a blog. (These are are great places to start building your online/web presence…hint, hint.) BUT, if you skim through these sites of your fellow author and publisher (and of course, your own material), you might find they are spending an ample of amount of time discussing the weather or their favorite sports game and rarely, if ever, discussing their book’s subject material. If you have a MySpace, Facebook, etc., you want to incorporate links to your storefront, images of your book cover and of course, summations of every blog post for people to navigate to and read. That leads us to one of the most important aspects of developing your web presence: Becoming the expert!

Becoming the Expert:
A major part of branding and marketing your book publishing business is solidifying your expertise within your book’s genre or field. Article writing is by far the best way to get this done. If you have a blog (if you don’t go get one now!) or website, you want to start working on a plan to contribute at least (at the very least) two articles per week about your book’s subject matter. You can use these articles as a means to discuss or share quotations from your book and also interview other people, share tips & tricks or help develop others. These people you help are potential book buyers! If people trust your information, then they will surely trust your book. The more consistent you are with refining and defining your online presence, the greater chance of exposure and of course, possibilities for selling your business’s product: YOUR BOOK!

Branding Tip:
Most of us wrote a book, then worked to develop our credibility for the information. Pretend instead, you were the subject matter expert already who HAPPENED to write a book. If you approach  marketing from this perspective, it will help shed light on new methods for marketing your businesses credibility (you) and your book’s material (book) and ultimately, give way for people (followers) to trust you enough to purchase your product (sales).

2.  Marketability

How are you trying to sell your work and have you determined your actual market? Trying to sell book products to people who don’t read or (let’s say) other authors who are competing against you? Are you working to establish an online presence that is catchy (building on wants) of those who fall into your customer base?

If I said the word marketing and then listed some random words, such as: soda, car & shoe, it would be relatively easy to guess what words or businesses came to your mind when you heard me say them. For soda, you might have considered Coke or Pepsi. For car you may have thought of Ford or Chevy and lastly, for shoe, the odds are pretty good you thought of Nike or at the very least, the Nike swoosh symbol. This is what’s called Top-Of-Mind marketing and branding. Top-of-Mind, being, the very first word(s) or business models that comes to your mind when a list of words are mentioned. When a business is working to focus its attention on a certain customer base or “corner of the market” it is imperative they understand just who their customers are and work within their niche to build an effective marketing plan to target that audience.

As an example, I work for Texas based children’s author (Melissa M. Williams/Iggy the Iguana) but my own work of fiction (Proud Souls) would never be considered for marketing to the same audience. Why? Well, (if it wasn’t obvious) my material is written for adults NOT children. I don’t even tell children much about my book, apart from saying, I’m a writer too! It sounds like a relatively simple thing to do, but if at the end of the day, the name of the game is sales, then why would I spend my time (or waste my time depending upon how you measure the quality and cost of your time) talking about, sharing or trying to sale a product to a consumer base that won’t purchase my product(s)?

This installment deals with marketability or your ability to market a product effectively to a particular customer base. Take these points into consideration and these suggestions as you work (and rework and rewrite) to develop your marketing strategy.

a.) Know your customers:

If you write for children, then you need to be in front of children. You need to create a product that doesn’t always fit WHAT YOU THINK is the best product for a child (or children) but what they like. Get out there and ask them. Meet with kids, conduct author visits, and school presentations and ask them what they think of your product. They are after all your entire customer base. If your book is niche, or based on events or circumstances for adults, then find the people who will identify with it the most, and get their perspective. You can offer books for free, to generate a buzz, get some reviews, offer free readings, etc. 

b.) Appeal to your audience

You don’t want to create a cover that is too adult for children anymore than you want to create a cover that is too childish for adults. Look at other books in your genre and get a feel for cover styles. If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the next time  you are in a bookstore. If I read this genre and I walk down that genre’s aisle, what books pop out and grab my attention? Is it a bold title on the spine? Is it an image? Is it dark? Light? The cover design should correlate with your book’s theme, that after all is an old trick of playwriters from ages ago.

c.)  Streamline your visual aids

When you think of shoe, you most likely think of Nike. When you think of Nike, you most likely think of the swoosh sign. This isn’t a coincidence but targeted, planned and effective results of good marketing. If you have a profile picture, it should be the SAME one you use on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and your website. If you have a cover design image on the Internet, it should be the same as well, everywhere. Your business logo on your blog or website should match what’s on your book cover, etc. The idea is to brand one cover design, with one business logo and one author profile picture. That way, when someone sees you on Twitter they may recognize you from Facebook. If they find you posting comments on a book blog, they will recognize you from MySpace, etc. Your job is to make sure people know what you look like, what you wrote, and what your book cover looks like…without thinking twice!

d.) Learn to be convincing–and believe it!
Does one shoe make you run faster than another? Does one energy drink truly make you a better athlete? Does one laptop or personal computer help you work any better than the other? No, no and no…but…the sales and marketing staff at each of these organizations will work to make you believe otherwise. That is the power of a good marketing campaign. If your book deals with overcoming loss (non-fiction) and you have been through devastating loss and rejuvination, then YOU ARE THE EXPERT! You after all, have written a book about the subject! Get out there on blogs, guest blogs, radio shows, Facebook, MySpace, support groups, etc. and remind the people how YOUR information and knowlegde helped save your life…and how it can save theirs too! Period.

e.) Become the expert

I can’t stress this point enough. I read once that if you work at anything (consistently) for five years, you become the subject matter expert. Trust me, it may seem like you’re not at times and because of a lack of sales, you may not feel like the expert, but you are! The little things you learned and forgot you learned along the way are the very things someone else is looking for. Why not be the one who feeds them continuous content to help them get where you are? By posting articles, podcasts, interviews, etc., on a continuous (continous) basis, you are allowing people a chance to trust you and with that trust and learning, will come sales–if you have a product–and what better product to sum up your knowledge than a book?

f.) If I like you–I will like your product

Someone told me once that we write because it is our gift and we work hard at it so the world will fall in love with our work. We blog–or utilize any social networking website–so people will fall in love with us. If you want to sale books you must believe in them. If you want to sale books you must be your books biggest and greatest advocate and NOT sit around waiting on someone else to love it or promote it or believe in it more than you! If you want to sale books, then you have to learn to be personable enough that people LIKE you enough to give your art (your work, your product) a chance. Remember who you were when you were just starting out…how much you loved talking about your book…without query letters, sales pitches, guidelines, etc…? That person could inspire the world without any formal effort. Don’t let the formalities destroy the beauty in your heart…to share with the world what is in your soul.

3.  Credibility

Do you write articles, teach classes, offer lectures, that solidify your expertise within your market? Are you available to help others learn how to do what you are (working) to accomplish? To help others with a serving spirit, doesn’t hinder your ability to make money, but rather opens more doors for opportunity by helping others along the way.

4. Consistency

How often are you working online to develop a TOM (top of mind) marketing presence. As an example, when people think car company, do they think Chevy or Ford? When they think (for example) of your product line, art, book genre, etc., do they think of you or your works title? What have you done to help establish that want, based on your businesses product. Your product is not only your item for sale, but YOU!

5. Time

If you are writing a book or trying to sale a book to make money only, people can see right through that. And that, makes you no different than the hundreds of thousands of other authors on the market. What makes you (YOUR BUSINESS) different than the next? What do you offer a community, a market, consumers, etc that truly makes your business worth investing in–and ultimately–buying your product? I read once that anything you do for five years [you] become the expert at. All of this work takes TIME, but if you believe in your product, if you believe in your passion, etc., then time is in your favor, not working against you.

These are a few of the various points to consider when working to write your marketing plan, develop a marketing model and lastly, create your web model (links to) your various websites.

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Help Other Writers be More Visible

Anne Lyken-Garner, today’s guest,  is a writer and blogger. You can find her writing blog here:  A Blogger’s Books. Also check out: How to Spend Less by Anne Lyken-Garner. Anne says:

Most writers write about their books on their blogs, or share their links on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon. These could be extremely helpful mediums through which we could promote ourselves and our work. 

The problem is, we can’t do it on our own. Spamming is terribly prevalent on the Internet and as soon as you’re recognised or noted for being one, the impact you make and the links you share – helpful or not – get painted with the brush of suspicion. 

The way to overcome this as writers is to help each other to become more visible. None of us could be a powerful member on all the social media sites. However, we each have our following or our fan base on our own little patch on the net. If we all helped each other in our own small corner, this could be a good thing for all of us. There are several ways in which we could increase each other’s visibility, but some of them can be slightly complicated. Here are four very easy ones which most of us have the ability to do. 

Follow blogs 

Most of us have blogs. Following other writers’ blogs shows their visitors that they’ve got a solid community. Your stamp of approval makes it easier for browsers looking for writing information to decide to follow them too. More readers mean more new visitors. Visitors translate into more authority for their blogs when the search engines send out their crawlers. A blog that has more authority and ranking is good for all involved because it means your tiny picture on the ‘follow’ panel is exposed to more traffic.

Furthermore, you will be able to see their new updates on your blog’s dashboard. 

Link to other writers’ posts 

If you find something interesting on your fellow writer’s site, link to it in one of your posts. Obviously this is to be done responsibly with the appropriate credits etc. This sort of exposure introduces your colleague to your readers and helps them to discover something new and interesting. Your job as a blogger/writer is to impart knowledge. Give your readers something good, worthwhile and different. They will love you for it.

Linking to other sites also increases their weight and authority where Google is concerned. Many bloggers won’t do this for nothing, but I do. My purpose for writing and blogging is not just for personal gain. I will link freely to sites and articles with the appropriate credits, if I think something is worth sharing. My readers are worth it. 

Tweet their posts 

Most of the writers on the Internet have now got twitter accounts. Tweet good posts now and then and help other writers to be visible on Twitter. There are thousands of other writers there. This has a two-fold purpose: not only will you be known for tweeting quality links on writing, but your colleague will gain some traffic from the link you shared. People notice when you’ve tweeted their work, and this ‘favour’ will come back to you triple-fold. 

Stumble their posts 

In my opinion, StumbleUpon is probably the best social media site to drive traffic to your blog. Some submissions don’t always make a big splash, but when they do, they’re huge. If you’re a member of StumbleUpon and you pay attention to what others are submitting, lending your support to their interests, your stumbles will soon get the attention of other users on the site. 

Use your networking skills not only to build up your own fan base, but to help other writers along in their journeys too. In an age where Literary Agents and Publishers are holding back on marketing their authors’ work, we have to turn to each other to get where we want to be.