Have you ever been in a slump? Writers are not immune to being in a slump. Sometimes you’re suffering from a case of writer’s block whether you’re struggling to find a new story idea or finish a work you already started. What many don’t seem to talk about is the rut writer’s find themselves after they publish and are now faced with the seemingly daunting task to market their book. Up till last week I had just about given up on any active marketing plans for my book, Before the Legend. Then I got an invitation to attend an author publishing webinar from Jonny Andrews. It was my 1st time attending one and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I decided to come in with an open-mind. What I gathered after the webinar changed what I thought I knew about marketing. Here are some highlights I took away that I think all authors will benefit from in how to market for success.
The landscape of self-publishing has changed!
This is a very important point for all self-published writers to be aware of whether you’re thinking about publishing or have been in the business for years. When eBooks were still new it was much easier to sell your books in 2012 vs. 2018. When you add factors such as sales algorithms that favored emerging writers to the novelty of downloading an eBook, I get the impression that the market was more conducive for new writers to gain traction on the top seller’s list and therefore gain greater visibility in the early 2010s.
In just a few years the market has changed and is continuing to change. Now that self-publishing has grown in popularity, the market has exploded with hundreds of thousands of new titles being released each year. Instead of competing with just published books by a publishing house which have the advantage of having a marketing team, you are also competing with a rising number of self-published books. With the market saturated, and Amazon’s changing algorithm, it’s becoming even harder for your book to stand out. Because the market is changing, methods that used to work (e.g. free runs) aren’t as effective as they used to be.
Many writers including myself ended up dishing out more money for marketing campaigns or ad slots that yielded little to no results. Unless you’re consistently on the best-seller’s list or have a movie deal with your book most writers don’t have a large budget allocated for marketing. So what’s the solution? As a writer, especially an indie writer, marketing is absolutely essential for your book’s success. The belief that if you publish it people will find it is not going to cut it these days. What you need to be is smarter with how you market. But first you need to know what may not be working in your favor.
What’s Not Working
Clicks do not lead to sales – One of the most popular forms of marketing are click ads. Sites such as Goodreads has them. What the speaker made very clear in the webinar was that clicks in themselves do not lead to sales! In fact there’s very little correlation between clicks and sales. While this isn’t saying all click ads are bad, the way we measure success can easily become distorted. To illustrate suppose you ran three ads that lasted for about 24-hrs. One ad may get 1000 clicks, 2nd one may get 5000, and the other may get 760. Just because the 2nd ad got 5000 clicks didn’t mean people were actually buying the book. For the 3rd ad, it may have gotten fewer clicks but the people who did click on that ad were more likely to get to the landing page and actually buy the book. If we were to measure our success on just how many clicks we get we might be missing out on an effective ad that actually has a higher conversion rate. Ultimately our goal is to gain more sales not more likes. While the number of “likes” may stroke our egos on social media it doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. While the speaker doesn’t spell out what you should or should not do, he does point out what you need to consider when marketing.
Conversion rate is simply the % of people who saw the checkout page vs those who bought it. The higher the conversion rate the better. Hooking the visitor to get to your intended page (e.g. sales page) is only half the battle. Now you need them to buy the book. While you don’t have a lot of control over what people do next you can take a moment to review your intended page. If it’s the buy page, here are things to consider:
- Is the cover well-designed, professional, and attractive?
- Does the blurb invoke curiosity in the reader without giving too much away?
- Is the process to checkout and buy the book simple quick and simple?
If the following answers are a resounding yes for your visitor this can help solidify his/her decision to buy the book. If not this is a good time to get the basics right otherwise your marketing efforts will be futile. Of course there’s other criteria to consider in what marketing route to use. Of course you want to have the most ROI or return on investment. Here are some other key metrics to look for when choosing a marketing plan.
- CPA = Cost per acquisition. According to Wikipedia this metric is calculated by the cost divided by acquisition. In this context acquisition is referring to sales. The higher the CPA, the better for the advertisers and you.
- LTV= Long term value. As the name implies this looks at a long-range value of your product over an extended period of time. While I won’t go in detail about this, ultimately as a writer you should strive for long-term success.
What to try
Landing pages are the first page a user will see when they click on a site and are used by many types of businesses. Generally they are simpler in design from a standard site having little to no top navigation links. The landing page’s primary purpose is a call for action on the part of the visitor. There will generally be a form or a button that will call for the user to engage with the site and click or fill out a form which will then navigate them to the intended page. For an author that could be an email mailing list which is another great marketing strategy especially if you’re planning on releasing more books. If you build a nice size mailing list you already have a set of potential new buyers already at your disposal instead of starting from scratch.
Landing pages can also be linked to your buy page. What I gathered from the session that you keep more of your money when readers buy directly from you vs. Amazon.
The webinar made me rethink my methods and think about new ways of marketing such as lead pages. There’s many different leading pages out there and depending on which one you use they can provide useful analytics including CPA or LTV. This takes away the guess work and can help you determine if your site is effective in driving more sales for your book.
The publishing world has changed and is continually evolving so authors need to adapt their methods if they want to produce long-term success. It’s still too early to say definitely what will work for me but I’m currently experimenting with different landing pages. Stay tuned on a future post on what I found to be most effective.
For now I settled on a newly created landing page.
Which marketing method will work for my favor? Only time will tell.
Question to readers: Have you used landing page builder sites? What has been your experience with them? Which ones did you like or didn’t? I’m curious to hear your experiences