Saturday, September 27, 2014

Basic Book Promotion

Carl Purdon
My New Business Card
How can I get people to buy my book? It's a question on almost every author's mind. We've all clicked those links, you know the ones -- the links that promise answers that don't exist. Even though we know there is no magic answer, we still click.

We click because we think we've written the next bestseller (if you don't think that about your book then why did you publish it?) but we can't figure out how to let people know.

Family and friends, co-workers, Facebook acquaintances, these are all great first steps, but unless you are already famous, you simply don't know enough people for Amazon to notice. Millions, maybe billions, of people flock to Amazon. They buy books, but how do they know your book exists? If it's not on the charts, they won't, unless someone tells them.

Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools a writer can have, so every new reader puts you one step closer to your goal. Most readers may be surprised to know this, but even the simplest mention of your book (assuming they enjoyed it) sends the author into orbit and makes him or her that much more dedicated to writing something new. Writers are sensitive by nature. We crave feedback. Readers are our lifeblood. They are what make us sit for countless hours driving ourselves crazy for just the right way to make that next sentence pop (that's how novels are born -- one sentence at a time).

Every writer should have a website -- somewhere people can go to get all the information they need about you and your books. Provide an easy way for people to contact you. Facebook is also one of the fundamentals. An author needs not just a personal Facebook profile, but a Facebook Page (the business version of Facebook). Then there's Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.

Over the last few days I came to realize I've been overlooking another basic promotion tool. One of the most basic, in fact. A tool almost as old as business itself. What is it you ask? A simple business card. Yep, I've been trying to sell books since 2012 and have never had a business card. I corrected that this morning thanks to the ease of creating almost any promotional item on VistaPrint. The hard part is coming up with something catchy, which I hope I accomplished.

There is no magic bullet that will rocket your book to the top of the charts. Writing is an art. Marketing is pure business.

What is your marketing strategy?

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Carl Purdon is the author of The Night Train, Norton Road, and Blinders. He can be found most days on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. A quality post, Carl. Any author, including the biggies, must have a SocMedia presence. The biggies have one, why not the indies, and do it well enough, with no more inventiveness than a first-time author who's done the mktg homework.

    Besides those that you've highlighted, may I also suggest having your email electronic signature state who you are by the simplest of notions. Mine reads: Mark Beyer, author of WHAT BEAUTY and THE WILLAGE WIT.

    Nothing is simpler than using the ad/mktg techniques we intuitively know vis-à-vis being the recipients of such devices. There are only the nuances of who to draw more and "more focused" people to your sites. My problem has been targeting the readers who read my kind of books. I'm leaning now toward reading groups I find via Twitter and other search techniques.

    What I'd like to know, Carl, is how you've got so many LIKES on your FB author page (besides the obvious impression that your wonderful books make on readers)?

    1. A good idea regarding email, Mark. I have my name and website as my signature. Perhaps I need to add Author of .... to that.

      As for my Facebook author page, I managed to reach just over 500 likes simply by inviting friends from my Facebook profile, asking friends to invite their friends, and by tweeting the request. Once I reached that amount it seemed to top out, so I began promoting a post here and there, and ultimately tested the waters with a "Promote Page" ad. The "Promote Page" ad worked very well. I tried by targeting certain states and/or cities first, and targeting people with book/reading related interests. I didn't try to target authors because, let's face it, authors have little time for reading. My idea was that targeting people who read, and getting them to like my page, would give me a better base on which to build a promotional campaign than anything else I could think of. I've been very lucky to be able to keep the new likes (almost all of them) I've gained through paid promotion, though I haven't yet convinced the bulk of them to buy my books. I wish I knew how to refine my targeting to reach people who like my particular kind of books, but for now I settle more for the shotgun approach.

      I also have 6000+ followers on Twitter, which I have accumulated over the past few years simply by engaging people, or by following book-related people and having them follow back. I have never "bought" Twitter followers because they aren't real people. Lots of people do, though (especially celebs), because it looks impressive to have tens of thousands of followers. There are apps that expose fake followers.

      One thing I really like about the Facebook page promotion is that I can see who likes my page, and it really is a diverse group. You never know who will enjoy your work, so I'm happy to have anyone on board. Recently I spoke to a group at my old high school, and I sized up the audience as each class came in. The one kid I thought would be the least likely to read a book ended up being the one who hung back after class and told me I made him want to read. I'm not sure if they learned anything that day, but I know I did.

  2. Good ideas, Carl. I've tried some paid promotions on FB (a few years ago), but don't think I got many "purchases" ... so the same problem here. I do need to devote more time to and twitter, and my FB author page. Problem is, most of my "friends" (from the past) are not readers. And with the FB Nazis patrolling suspicious "be my friend" requests (threatening to concentration camp me if I ask the wrong person) the aid of growing the Likes has to be done as you've suggested (and then other equally inventive methods). Good luck with the books. I have Norton Road on my shelf, in line TBR.

    1. Norton Road is my personal favorite, Mark. I hope you enjoy it. Like you, I've never understood this concept FB has about limiting friend requests to people you actually know. Shouldn't the idea of social networking be to expand one's realm of friends? I liken it to limiting yourself to talking only to people you already know when you go out in public.

      I just clicked over to Bibliogrind, Mark, and read the introduction of yourself (and your brand of writing). Excellent. That's the message you need to capture and dispense to the world. How? I'll get back with you on that one, assuming I unlock that secret myself.