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IS SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING THE BEST TOOL TO SELL BOOKS?

We all use social media in one degree or another. Whether it is to know what our friends are doing, learn about trends, or just to know what’s happening around the world. It is undeniable that social media is part of our daily lives. The same way, it is safe to say that social media is also a vital part of our readers daily routine which makes social media advertising a must-use tool for any self-promoting author.

However, no social media platform or advertising tool is set to reach everyone at once. To think that with one effort you will reach all your potential readers and convert them into fans is unrealistic.

Tools like Facebook Ads are designed to help you set specific goals depending on what you want to achieve, but not one ad can reach, convince and convert everyone at the same time.

This is where knowing about your potential reader comes into play.

The more you know about your reader, the more successful your campaign will be.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON BOOK DISTRIBUTION

When considering what the best venue to sell your books, don’t make the mistake of selecting channels based on your preference and not that of your audience. Learning about unknown channels of distribution can be scary for an author that only dreams of putting their stories on a novel where it can be enjoyed by others. But let’s be real, to put that book in front of your potential reader you will need to be where they are currently looking for books.

Are they looking to buy on an online store like Amazon? Or, do they prefer to visit their local book store? Do they prefer digital over a physical book? Do they prefer to look for reviews online but then go buy it at Barnes & Noble?

Think about the preferences and behavior of your potential reader and define how you can facilitate the purchase. Give them options and make it easier for them to find you.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD REVIEWS

We all want for our books to be well received and maybe even loved by our fans, but do you know how exactly reviews affect your sales?

Stars and the types of reviews matter when a reader starts to consider your book. Your revenue can be directly affected by the stars in author profiles and book pages within sites like Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub.

With the thousands of books to choose from, readers rely on the opinion of others to discern what books to consider, which ones to try and/ or buy.

One to two stars almost guarantees poor sales; three stars may still attract the risk takers that trust the best reviews among all the reviewers; four to five starts can highly improve your chances of for high sales.

However, the amount of reviews also affects your chances to succeed.

The more significant amount of good reviews from verified or “honest” reviewers, the easier the sale.

Readers, like many other customers, are starting not to trust all the reviews they find online under a particular book or product. Many times believing the comments can be posted by paid contributors and not reliable customers like themselves.

UNDERSTANDING HOW THE JOURNEY OF POTENTIAL READERS

Many seasoned authors advice new riders to think about one specific reader when they’re creating their stories. They advise you to keep mind that fictional reader and what they are looking for in the book.

That same advice applies when marketing a book, but marketers take it a little bit further. Use that persona that you imagined while you were creating your novel and think about the steps they take to buy a book.

Are they the type of customer to buy the booking pre-sale? Or, do they need validation that the book is good by reviewing what others have to say about it? In other words, are they risk takers, impulsive, or cautious buyers?

Their personality and behavior at the moment they are looking to buy a book will determine the channels they use to learn more about your novel, and how they decide to purchase it.

Once you figure out, what is their journey, you will need to make sure that can be found in those channels. If they read reviews on Amazon, do you have enough of them? If they read excerpts, do you offer them?

Define your marketing channels, not by what is popular or what others think. Design your strategy with your reader in mind and your reader will find you.

THE ALL-KNOWING AUTHOR

Thoroughly understanding your reader is the key to a successful book launch. Without the knowledge of what moves your reader to buy a specific book and why they behave the way they do you will not be able to establish strategies that with sway their book purchase decision.

By gathering all the information you can get about your readers, you will be able to estimate where they purchase books, what type of books they buy and how. With that information in hand, you can then establish methods to offer them the stories they are looking for in the form of your novel.

Armed with information, you will be able to offer them more accessible ways to buy your book across platforms and distribution channels whether they buy online, or at a bookstore turning yourself into the source for high-quality stories wherever they go to buy.

FACEBOOK ADVERTISING FOR YOUR BOOK LAUNCH CAMPAIGN

Social media platforms, and especially Facebook, have become a necessary tool when launching a new book, but for many authors, the idea of using Facebook advertising is daunting and even frightening. Their expertise on this platform might only span to posting updates, memes or checking on the status of loved ones.

However, it can be an exceptional tool to reach potential readers as they browse their feed. Through Facebook advertising, an author can target readers based on their likes, behavior online, demographics, and interests. A well-targeted campaign can reach thousands of people in a day. Each campaign can have different layouts and functionalities depending on the author’s goal whether it is driving traffic to the website, directing the potential reader to a sales page, or gaining followers.

To learn more register to receive more information about Facebook Bootcamp for Authors, a specialized online class where authors can learn how to launch a successful ad campaign.

USING INFLUENCERS TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK

With the proliferation of influencers in the digital sphere with thousands of loyal followers, it is not a wonder that many companies and even authors seek their endorsement or product placement. But is using an influencer a good idea for your book?

Using the right influencers can be an asset when promoting your book. They can provide a third-party endorsement providing original and honest reviews of your books to followers that value their opinion. Influencers can impact the decision-making process for readers that might be on the fence about your books, style or even genre.

However, selecting the perfect person for your novels among the thousands of people that call themselves influencers can be tricky.

Here are a few things to consider:

1.    Study their posts or channels, taking note of the number of followers and the type of interaction they have with their fans.

2.    Evaluate if their image aligns with your brand. Consider the topics they talk about, how they behave and the language they use (slang, cursing).

3.    How often they post? Are those posts relevant to your readers?

4.    Do they promote other authors? How they promote them?

5.    Are they active in all social media platforms?

6.    Do they talk about controversial topics that might affect your brand?

7.    Is their channel or blog growing?

Once you select your influencer, make sure to define all the stipulations of your agreement as well as compensation and or follow-ups.

CONSISTENCY EQUALS SATISFIED READERS

Consistency tends to always bring results. If you are consistent with your exercise regimen it is likely that your health will improve. The same way happens with consistency delivering high quality stories at the moment they are expecting those books.

If you fail to consistently deliver what the reader has come to expect, you will lose not only a reader but also the people with whom they share their experience. Keep in mind that recovering a lost reader takes more time and investment than keeping the one you already count as loyal fans.

But this not only translates to the readers that expect a good story or a novel by a certain timeline. This also includes the bookstore owners, library book buyers and even your publisher, editor, and agent.

Complying with timelines and manuscript delivery improves your chances of a repeat purchases, better placement in stores and chances of a better position in the publisher’s priorities.

FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN HIRING A MARKETING CONSULTANT

Publishing a book requires you to wear many hats at the same time. You need to be the writer, editor, cover designer, social media expert, sales manager, contract negotiator, and the list goes on. So, it is not surprising if at some point during this process you decide to seek help in the form of a consultant.

Here are five things you need to consider before you sign any contract with a consultant:

1.    Make sure they understand what you need, and you expect of their service – Sometimes things get lost in translation. Make sure to explain precisely what you are looking for in detail. Explain where you are in your career and where you want to go by using their services.

2.    Ask for references or client references – Don’t be shy to ask for samples from what they have done for other clients. If they cannot show you what they have done in the past, they might not be the right consultant for you. Consultants who consider themselves experts will be delighted to show off.

3.    Ask for a scope of work – A scope of work will detail everything that they are supposed to do for you, including deadlines, what its included in the costs, the budget needed, numbers of hours, and what could impact the delivery.

4.    Make sure to know for what is NOT included in their scope of work – Don’t assume anything! Ask questions.

5.    Define terms for termination – Establish milestones in the project and what happens if they are not met. You are investing your hard-earned money, and it is only natural that you want results, and in case you don’t get what you want, you need to know that you are not bound to continue with their service.

Having an expert partner with you can be one of the best things you can do for your career, and these five tips can help you define your expectations from that relationship.

ESTABLISHING A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SALES CHANNELS

Channel relationships are vital for any successful self-published author. Those channel relationships are the interactions or affiliations you would have with your book distributors, book store owners/ managers, library book buyers and so forth.

A good relationship with your channel can help the placement of your book within the store or library, the number of books sold and frequency as well as the pricing and special promotions. Taking time to establish and maintain those connections can also provide you with insights they might want to share about their customers, their needs as channels and possible issues that might affect the sale of your books.

When first contacting a new channel, be sure to listen as much as you are giving information. Turn the exchange into an opportunity to create a productive and beneficial connection where both you are satisfied with the results.

In case of conflict, solve the issue as fast as possible taking into consideration both sides of the conflict.

Like any relationship, a business relationship takes time to grow, and a lasting channel can prove to be an essential part of the success of any book launch or follow-up sales.

SELLING DIRECTLY TO YOUR READER

If you are a self-published author, it is highly likely that you aim to sell your books directly to your potential reader. This allows you to make decisions quickly involving just a few people or providers to reach as many customers as possible.

Although doing business with book distributors and wholesalers, it is undeniable that connecting directly to your reader has its advantages.

Selling directly to your reader allows you to connect and influence several groups of customers by targeting and implementing tailored marketing strategies. Connecting to specific groups lets you use emotion and persuasion techniques to create attachments and trigger sales. By satisfying an immediate need for well-crafted stories and high-quality writing you are increasing your opportunities to establish a relationship with your reader and increase the likelihood of converting them into loyal fans.

The marketing experience

When thinking about marketing strategies for a book launch, we need to look beyond just the demographics (income, age or stage in life) of a potential reader to target them with efficiency. Although demographics is one of the four areas that influence why readers buy a specific book, we need to consider:

•    what motivates them (the reason behind why they buy),

•    their behavior towards a particular purchase (frequency, money spent),

•    their attitude towards the potential purchase (emotions, preferences or needs)

Understanding these four areas would allow you to maximize your ability to influence their journey, use their right strategy to reach them and convert them into loyal readers.

ESTABLISHING SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS

We’ll now that to be a successful published author you need a social media presence, but many writers have no idea what this entails. It is not enough to have social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You need a strategy, a defined social media strategy.

But before you go into the details of your strategy, you need to define what are your goals. What do you want to achieve through social media? Do you want to create awareness? Do you want people to know about a specific book? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Or, do you want to send people directly what they combined book?

Establishing a goal will create a clear vision to develop a successful social media strategy. In other words, a goal will help you define exactly what are you looking for from your interaction with potential readers online to then establish how are you going to achieve that goal.

Should you use a book distributor?

The idea of holding your book in your hands has shifted with the rise of ebooks and the closing of many bookstores. Even with all these changes printed books are still a market that we should not ignore. The opportunity to sell our books it’s still there. However, the competition to place your books on the shelves is fierce and is not something that you should take on by yourself.

Just like many traditional publishers, you can also use book distributors that will help you place novel and negotiate contracts with major booksellers. A book distributor already has established business relationships with these major booksellers that they can leverage to place your book in those stores. A distributor we’ll take charge and deal within the logistics of selling to wholesalers, fulfilling orders and making sure that the product is there on time. Distributors act on your behalf, billing customers, shipping orders and finding sale opportunities for your book.

This allows you to have your printed book in stores where readers can easily find out without the hassle of storing your books, negotiating with stores across states and then fulfilling those orders.

UNDERSTANDING CHANNEL MARKETING

Many times, as authors we think about getting our stories in the hands of our readers without taking in consideration the journey of our books starting with its production, distribution and final sale. The right channel marketing strategy for your book can have as much impact as any other part of your book launch.

A channel marketing strategy takes into account the packaging of your book (cover, book bundles, multi-author boxset, ebook or printed book), advertising, inventory and distribution logistics.

For example, for an ebook a channel marketing strategy will take into account:

  • the formats of the book based on the targeted wholesaler (EPUB, MOBI, AZW).
  • production cost, advertising costs and strategies
  • use of intermediaries for production or placement
  • potential revenue
  • method of delivery to the customer (download, KU, etc)

Ignoring these areas can result in unexpected expenses, lack of sales and reduced revenue due to poor planning. Avoid hurdles in your path to a successful book launch with a solid and comprehensive channel marketing strategy.


Social Media Trends and how to connect with your reader

As author, we depend on social media to reach out to our potential readers on a daily basis. Social media is dynamic, accessible but sometimes challenging. Finding and connecting with your reader takes time and taking into account the following trends can help you increase your followers and maintain your current readers.

Trend #1. Build trust

Do not concentrate only in maximizing reach but develop quality content that showcases who you are as a writer. Give your potential readers the opportunity to know who you are as an author and keep in mind the audience that you are writing for.

Trend #2 Show, don’t tell

Sounds familiar? This is one of the mantras as writers and it should continue to be as authors developing our social media presence. Use visuals to share your story. Many social media platforms now have the options of creating Stories that are shareable and time-sensitive creating the urgency to not miss out.

Trend #3 Online advertising

Supplement or boost your content with targeted social media advertising. The competition for the attention of potential readers is hard and complementing your content with ads will give you the advantage over other authors that prefer a more organic promotion.

Trend# 4 Social Shopping

Don’t lose sight of your final goal, book sales. Make sure that readers can find your book. Post your link in your website and when you are promoting your book. Try the links to make sure they work and make the buying experience easy and fast.

USING DATA TO PREDICT YOUR READERS BEHAVIOR

Most of the things you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep can be predicted through data. Data that has been collected by the behaviors of individuals similar to you in age, upbringing, economic status and hundreds of other traits that makes you, you. Of course, as you can infer, that applies to everybody around you including your readers.

You can understand their likes and dislikes and even patterns in their behavior through the analysis of data you already own –like sales, reviews, comments on posts and likes on social media—and data you can use from search engines and social media platforms.

The key is not only to collect data about your readers but using that data to visualized patterns like, do your readers prefer to visit your blog on a specific day, or do your readers like a specific type of storyline, price points or even book format.

Data is a tool that is often ignored by writers that can give you the extra edge you need to not only understand your potential book buyers but even predict the when, how and why they will buy your books.

WHAT IS THE CORRECT MARKETING BUDGET FOR A BOOK LAUNCH?

Deciding how much to spend marketing your book can be tricky for any author, more so if this is your first book launch. It is easy to get carried away and decide to invest in the latest trend on book promotions, but are those the right ones for you?

It is exhilarating to see the numbers of your sales going up but, are you profiting from those sales? Or are you investing too much in marketing to barely break even?

As an author –and more so as a self-published author—you have the responsibility to understand your return on investment including your branding and marketing efforts. Always take into account the following:

–    How much are you investing per sales?

  • What is your percentage of cost versus revenue?

–    Do you know which strategy is bringing more sales?

  • Is it Facebooks ads or posts in your blog? Is it the blog tours or your guest posts in other blogs? Divide each strategy and determine which triggers more sales and which doesn’t. This will help you decide whether it would make more sense to move your marketing dollars into promotions that are likely to bring you more sales.

–    Are you investing enough?

  • Are your sales low because you are not driving traffic to your sales page? Being too conservative in your marketing investment can also hurt your goals. People need to know about your book and where to find it.

–    Are your sales growing or are they stagnant?

  • If your sales are not growing or have not taken off, you might need to consider if you are using the right strategies for your specific market.

Auditing what works for you and what doesn’t is an excellent way to keep track and maximize your return on investment for all your marketing efforts. This at the end will help you increase your sales and grow your career as a successful published author.

BOOK BUYER’S JOURNEY

Understanding the journey any reader takes before buying their next book will help any author visualize sale strategies and successfully meet their needs. A buyer’s journey is not unique to a certain type of reader or customer. It applies to all of us, no matter what we buy or how we buy it.

THE AWARENESS STAGE

Identifying the need and the research to satisfy that need

A reader acknowledges their need for a story, a book or a novel that will either entertain, educate or even sooth their soul. They know what type of story they want but not the final product or title. So they start researching for the genre, known or favorite authors.

EVALUATION

Your potential reader is now looking at specific titles based on what they found during their research. But before making a decision, they read reviews, blurbs and customers ratings. Here they establish what is their decision criteria. What does this book has to have for them to go into the next stage and buy.

Are they looking for happy endings? For a story to make then laugh? Maybe they are looking for a complex storyline that will keep them on their toes. Whatever falls into their decision criteria moves the titles from possible purchase to rejected titles.

PURCHASE

At this point, the reader already knows exactly what they want and they are certain they have found the book that will give them what they are looking for in that story. They are full of expectations created during their journey and their likelihood of becoming loyal readers or return customers will depend on how that book is able to match that promise of satisfying the need the reader is trying to fulfill.

Knowing the reader’s journey to purchasing their next book, should give you an idea as to where are your possible touchpoints where you can influence their decision. Is it in the awareness stage, or is it during evaluation and purchase?

IS YOUR BRAND TELLING YOUR STORY?

We are storytellers. Writers with a boundless number of stories to tell but when it comes to our story we freeze. We don’t know what to say, where to start. We get writer’s block because we believe that only a person with some marketing experience will be able to teach us how to write our brand story.

But building a story-brand is no different from plotting and writing your novels.

A brand story, like any fiction story you have created, tries to invite the customer (your reader) into a story where he or she is the hero and you the sidekick, the guide, that helps them in their journey. Also, like in your stories, this character has an arc, where it starts with a problem, goes after a possible solution, and at the end hopefully will avoid failures and meet with success.

The only difference is that in this arc, the hero meets you, who will guide them into action towards that goal hopefully guarantying that desired success.

For example, the reader is looking for something it take him away from his dwelling on a problem at work. He is looking for something to ease his mind, whether is a form of escape or a way to find a solution to the problem he faces at work. Here comes your work, a funny look at the typical office drama with an honest view of the different office personalities and maybe how to deal with them.

The reader is the hero, you are the sidekick that is going to guide him to find what he is looking for.

Create that story. Invite him into the journey and he will understand who you are and what your brand is about.

Use your story telling skills to draw your reader in. Let your story-brand aid you to reach out to the right people. They will then become your fans.

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