Next to writing a great e-book, effectively marketing your e-book is probably the most crucial step to getting sales. But many people, myself included, don’t have a lot of money to spend on e-book marketing. That’s why this week I’m excited to publish a guest post by e-book marketer Lynn Serafinn, where she answers some of my questions about e-book marketing on a budget.
Erica: How did you get started in e-book marketing?
Lynn: First, I just want to clarify that I don’t just work in eBook marketing, but in online book marketing in general. I actually got started (as many who do book marketing do) by learning how to promote my own books. I attended many seminars, both online and in person. I learned the best and rejected the worst (least ethical) ways to market a book. Then, in 2009, I launched my first (paperback) book using the online marketing strategies I had honed and it became a bestseller. Soon after, someone asked me to write an article about my process on their book marketing blog. From that, I got my first book launch client. I got her to #1 bestseller status. After that, I had a steady stream of clients coming my way, all wanting to use my services. Since then, our company has grown and I have a team of 6 others who help me create book launches. We also offer other services such as online platform building for the author just starting out. Lately, a lot of authors have also been hiring me to write the copy for them that goes on their online book pages (on Amazon, etc.).
Erica: What are your thoughts on using fiverr to find someone to do e-book marketing? Is it potentially a good resource or can an e-book author do it themselves for cheaper?
Lynn: Honestly? I’ve never used these services and any time one of my clients has hired via these types of sites they often get ‘budget’ quality support. For me, ‘doing e-book/book marketing’ is about designing a strategy and developing a regular practice with it. I think budget assistants can help you implement the ‘legwork’ of your strategies, but they cannot ‘do’ marketing for you.
When I work with an author, I work with them to find out about the heart and soul of the book they are writing. What is the message? Who is most likely going to want to read it and why? Who is the author as a ‘brand’? What else (besides their book) does the author have for their audience? What is the bigger aim of the author’s business? Is it just about writing books or is there something else? How can we make this a long-term sustainable enterprise for them? These kinds of considerations are what distinguish successful authors from struggling ones, even if they are self-published.
Based upon the answer to these (and many other) questions, the author and I then build an online marketing strategy. At that point, and only then, when we are really clear about what needs to be done, you might approach hiring Virtual Assistants to help you.
From experience, I know that looking for the cheapest price can often end up costing you more in the long term. I’ve had several clients who chose to hire ‘budget’ assistants from sites like fiverr or eLance thinking this was the best way to go. They see a price of $4 an hour as opposed to $50 an hour and think it’s a bargain. But honestly, I have never seen budget hires actually save money (or time) for my clients, because while they might understand basic graphic design or basic social media principles, they don’t understand marketing at all. One of my clients paid hundreds to get her website designed by a budget hire. It looked very pretty but it was completely non-functional from a marketing and customer experience perspective. She ended up having to spend a whole lot more to get it sorted out. Another hired a budget assistant to work on getting her followers on Twitter. When I looked at her followers, about 50% either didn’t speak English (which was my client’s language) or were inactive accounts. It took me weeks to clean up her account and rebuild. Another client hired a cheap assistant who immediately got her account ‘stuck’ by following too many people too quickly, and she had no way to help my client to undo the damage. The stories go on and on.
I think the best ‘budget’ marketing is to learn as much as you can yourself, either by spending a little more to hire a marketing strategist who comes highly recommended to guide you. You should also read as many articles and books on book marketing as you can, and attend webinars on the subject. Know that you do NOT need to use everyone’s ideas if they don’t resonate with you. The best and most natural marketing is when you combine the best ideas of others with your own style and make it feel good to you.
Once an author knows how to create a good marketing strategy, he/she can then direct their hired help to implement it. But if you rely upon cheap hires to create a marketing strategy for you, you will only end up wasting your time and money, and are likely to get discouraged.
Erica: Everything I’ve read says that the most important tool for marketing a Kindle book is the Kindle book page – what tips can you give for writing a good book description?
Lynn: Writing a great book description (sometimes called a ‘wholesaler description’ or ‘wholesaler blurb’) is extremely important and, again, it’s a marketing issue. I have many clients who hire me JUST to write their book descriptions (called ‘copy writing’). It’s often difficult for an author to be objective about their book, and see it through their potential reader’s eyes.
This is a big subject, so rather than diving deeply into this here, Erica, I’d like to direct your readers to an article I wrote on this very subject called ‘How to Write Good Blurbs and Back Pages for Your Book’. In that article I go step-by-step through the process of writing a good book blurb that speaks to the audience rather than from a subjective perspective.
Your readers can find the complete article at http://spiritauthors.com/news/how-to-write-good-blurbs-and-back-pages-for-your-book/
Erica: Do you have any tips or suggestions for e-book authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget?
Lynn: In my experience, marketing is not just a monetary issue for authors; the truth is, they don’t really want to spend time on marketing. Many also imagine that if they can get a publishing deal, their marketing woes are over. This is a gross misunderstanding. Most publishers these days won’t sign you unless they see you already have a strong marketing platform established. The reality is that the modern authors simply must take ownership of their marketing, and build marketing into their business routine and their budget. That said, online book marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up all your time IF authors are willing to study and learn how to do it themselves, or learn just enough about it to direct their assistants to support them.
For me, the best, cheapest and most long-term book marketing strategy is to:
- Develop a large body of great blog and/or video content
- Drive traffic to this content through social media
- Develop a consistent, ‘do-able’ social media strategy
- Syndicate your content to article directories and other relevant blogs
- Watch your stats and make sure your site’s SEO is working for you
- Develop business relationships and build collaborations with others you meet on social media
Of course, there are other things you can do like organise virtual blog tours, radio tours and big book launches. I do these things for many clients. But these are far more expensive marketing choices because they require the help of other people (and these people need to be experienced). You don’t necessarily need these glossier marketing strategies if you devotedly focus on the ‘slow burn’ instead of the ‘big flash’, and are willing to wait for the results.
If you aim towards developing a consistent, continually evolving, long-term reputation, you will eventually see a tipping point where your books start to sell consistently. Your older books will experience an increase in sales every time you bring out a new title, and you’ll start to make a steady income from your books. The key is to stick with it. In my experience, most authors start to make real money after they’ve published their THIRD book. Keep writing. Keep building.
Erica: What other marketing resources can you suggest for e-book authors who are on a budget?
Lynn: I have dozens of free articles on book marketing on my Spirit Authors website at http://spiritauthors.com. I try to publish a new article every Wednesday (although with my busy schedule, that can get tough sometimes!). Authors can subscribe for free and receive these info articles via email every week. They can even get Spirit Authors articles delivered directly to their Kindle for 99 cents a month.
Authors may also wish to check out my book Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically, which is available in paperback and Kindle (other eBook formats coming in September).
And, of course, if authors are looking for some guidance, we offer a platform-building package for authors. It’s not a ‘budget’ package, but we really do provide a great service. Your readers can read about this at http://spiritauthors.com/hire-us-for-your-book-launch/ and then drop me a line via the contact form on the website if they’d like to discuss it.
I hope this information was helpful to your readers, Erica. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.
This article originally appeared on Erica Martin’s blog ‘My eBook Journey’ on August 6th, 2013 at http://myebookjourney.com/ebook-marketing-getting-the-word-out-on-a-budget/
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.