Book Marketing is an Ugly Beast (You Know It’s True)

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

Ugh, the joys of book marketing. For many writers, it’s the labor of love to produce a book that you are proud of, and then a week before you decide to release it, you message all your friends on Facebook, tweet to all your 35 followers on Twitter, and plug your upcoming book everywhere you can. Then after it’s released, you sit there and obsessively check your sales rank and know that your book is going to be a winner.

Borrowed from Nicholas Rossis
Borrowed from Nicholas Rossis

Um, no. It doesn’t work that way.

Most experts recommend starting to market your book no less than six months before you’ve decided to release the book. However, for many writers, that still might not be enough time. Unless you’ve got a legitimate readership built up (which is hard if you’ve never published before) then you’re in for a big surprise. Building up a readership takes a lot of time.

So how exactly are you supposed to do this?

As writers, we’re flooded with ideas for how to market yourself (and your book) for a long time before it comes out. We’re told that we need to crowd-fund to make it happen (and finance the project). We’re told to join Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, BlogLovin’, Path, and a gazillion other social media platforms. You’re supposed to have your own author website—no blog—no platform—no…something else! It’s overwhelming.

How exactly are you supposed to write a book, let along market it, when everyone is telling you to do everything at once? The key here is not to jump on the bandwagon. The bandwagon can be a bad thing. That’s like getting on an airplane without knowing where it’s going. Sure you’ve bought your ticket and you want to get to a particular place, but it doesn’t mean that the airplane is going where you’d like to go. Maybe half the people on the plane want to go to Utah, but if you want to go to Jamaica, then you’re just not going to get what you want.

The best advice  is just to pick and choose what will be best for you. This means that you will have to still learn a couple of social media platforms, but you don’t have to learn all of them! Just pick the ones that will work best for the kind of writing that you do! If you like to keep it short, then Twitter might work for you. If you love video or visual aids, then starting a companion vlog on YouTube might be the ticket to your success. If you like memes or images that relate to your genre or book themes, then Pinterest might work well for you. Once again, it boils down to what your target audience will expect from you. You just have to figure out the best way to market your book. It may not be what everyone else is doing, and that’s okay.

What book marketing strategies have your tried? Which ones have worked, and which ones haven’t? If you haven’t published yet, have you started thinking about your marketing strategy? 

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