Book Marketing Tip: Respond to Your Fans

One time, I found an article online that I really related to from a personal standpoint. I found the writer (who happens to be the author of a self-published book and a motivational speaker) online and sent her a bit of a heartfelt email relating some of my own experiences and thanking her for the article. I also tweeted the link from a personal account at the time and promoted her business on my timeline to hundreds of followers.

In response the author simply added me to her newsletter list. I know this because I received a generic email newsletter issue days later. I promptly blocked her email address.

Your Fans Are Important

I have to look at this situation from a book marketing standpoint. It made me wonder why someone wouldn’t use this type of opportunity to build a relationship and possibly get a book sale. I don’t know?

I would say lack of time, but in the time it took her to add my name to her newsletter account she could have written back “Thanks for your email. FYI, I’m coming out with a new book soon that expands on the points in that article…” That might have led to a prompt purchase or pre-order.

What happens is that sometimes authors and entrepreneurs stop looking at people as people, and start treating them like customers. That’s just not a luxury of a self-published writer — vocal fans who take the time out to contact you are your bread and butter. You should make every effort to respond to them.

Respond to Your Fans

So my book marketing tip #201 is really simple: respond to your fans. I think this is common sense to the majority of unknown authors, but not all. It is extremely hard to get someone’s attention online these days long enough to get a response to what you’re selling.

When I wrote my first novel almost a decade ago, one thing I committed to was promptly responding to emails from fans and inquiries from them about their orders. It paid off, because many of the sales I received were from positive word of mouth. People appreciate it when you take the time to connect with them. I’ve also carried this into my client dealings—I respond to just about every inquiry, whether it is a sale or a general question about book marketing.

So the moral to this story is, if a fan or potential reader takes the time out to email you, email her back.

And build a relationship with that reader beyond just “buy my book.” Respond to her query and tell her a little about yourself and your story if she asks. Ask her about herself too. Remember, it’s not only about you.

If she’s read your book already, thank her for supporting you. Ask her to tell her friends, join your newsletter for updates and add a review to Amazon. Offer her a discount off of your next book or even a freebie—after all this is going to be one of your loyal readers who will most likely spread the word about your books. You can afford to give her a free copy.

You may be surprised at the benefits of sending back a little (love) to people who contact you with positive feedback over time.

 

 

How to Sell Your Books at Booksignings

Face to face book selling can be a bit scary at first, but very lucrative if you get the hang of it.

 

As an author, have you ever had trouble with face to face book selling situations? Most writers are not salesmen by nature. This is why many book signings turn into a big waste of time for self-published authors. It is embarrassing, sitting at that book signing table in a store all by yourself for an hour or more, staring at the book shelves, twiddling your thumbs, and trying to avoid looks from the sales clerks. If you want to make book signings worthwhile, you need to learn your customers.

Firstly, it’s flattering to be invited to do a book signing, but don’t book a signing in an area where your target audience doesn’t shop. For instance, if you have a book targeted for young people, why would you do a book signing in a shopping mall where senior citizens are the main demographic? Do research on an area before committing to a book signing.

Secondly, you have to come prepared with marketing materials. Don’t ever go to a book signing without bookmarks or flyers with more information about your book (preferably bookmarks because they are less cumbersome for your potential readers and they can use your bookmark no matter what book they buy that day). Also, have a professional poster designed and mounted on an 18 x 24 or 24 x 36 inch board that can be placed on an easel. Be sure the book manager has book stands available.

Thirdly, you have to call people over to your table. A good book display will bring interest, but in some cases people will just glance over your book table and keep browsing through the book store. Hand them a bookmark before they pass, smile, and ask them if they like “<insert your genre>.” You will be surprised how many people will give you a play and buy your book, just because you said hi!

 

To learn more about how to sell your book at booksignings, including what to say when you have someone standing at your table and the #1 thing you must do when someone walks up to your table, stay tuned for my eBook series entitled “How to Sell Books as a Self-Publisher.

 

How to Sell Books… It Depends on What Kind of Book You’re Selling

Obviously the top question I get from visitors to the How to Sell Books website is “how do I sell my self-publishing book??”

Well the first two questions that I have are: “what kind of book are you trying to sell in the first place? And to whom?” Many new self-publishers don’t really know the answer to those questions.

Not only do many writers fail to explore the basics of the 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, placement and promotion) they also don’t really know their target reader.

  • Is your target reader a housewife looking to make an extra income to support her household?
  • Is she a bored college student who wants something interesting to read in between classes?
  • Is he a social studies teacher who is looking for a way to interest his students?

What is the target reader’s age? Occupation? Interests? How does she buy her books (electronic or print)?

Simply put, the target reader is the person who is most likely to purchase a copy of your book. As I write in my eBook series, “A book buyer is only motivated to purchase a book if it will make him money, make his life easier, educate him on something he was curious about, or make his life more fun and enjoyable.”

Know Your Audience

I have been fairly successful selling my tightly niched novels because I have a very strong idea of who my target reader is for each one. For three years I hit the streets of NYC and sold my novels hand-to-hand.

I got to meet thousands of people who fell right into my target audience back then, so now I know who they are whether I’m tweeting them on Twitter, reading their posts on Amazon or talking to them at book signings. I understand their motivations, interests and how they go about buying books.

eBook or Printed Book?

Another important issue I think is crucial to consider right now (circa 2012 and beyond) is the book format that your target reader will prefer to purchase. I recently read an article that revealed that most people who read novels prefer eBooks (electronic books, mostly on Kindle or iPad devices) while people who read non-fiction titles prefer printed books that they can carry around and mark up for future reference. That is extremely important information for you to keep in mind if you’re trying to sell books.

Do People Really Want Your Book?

I’m quite possibly the last person on earth to discourage someone from writing and selling their own book, but you have to ask yourself: who, if anyone, wants your book?

Some writers make the mistake of writing and publishing books that have virtually no market —no one desires or needs the book. I learned that lesson first-hand when I published a book of photography (my very first self-publishing venture). Talk about bombing.

So if you are serious about succeeding as a self-publisher and selling copies I suggest that you do some personal reflection about your book before you proceed. If you’re having a hard time identifying a target reader, does the book have one? If the answer is “well no, not really” just start a new writing project but this time make sure that you have a clear-cut idea of who is actually going to buy it when it’s finished. Selling books is as much about strategy as it is about the writing or spending money on advertising.

Time to get to work!