Last updated on March 12, 2017
Marketing any published book is hard work. When you’re going it alone as an independent author, even more so.
Understanding how different social media avenues and search engines work can put your marketing farther ahead. It’s not enough to toss some tweets and the odd Facebook post out there. Your marketing reach will never go far enough and you’ll never be able to make a living doing what you love.
Most of us think we have a good handle on the course of our self-promotion and social media marketing. The reality is, there are at least a few things that all of us do or don’t do that are, in fact, hindering our marketing efforts.
Here are 5 things you may be doing that are hurting your own indie marketing.
You haven’t claimed/haven’t filled out your Goodreads author profile
Did you forget to do this? Go do it now. No seriously, right now.
Goodreads is a community of book lovers with a proven track record of purchasing, reading and reviewing books. Why on earth would you let this one get away from you? Make it a mainstay of your marketing efforts and in return, it takes very little to maintain. Since Amazon acquired it, the reciprocal relationship between the giant book selling platform and that massive group of engaged, voracious readers is unparalleled. The tie-in to the equally massive Facebook platform makes it one of the greatest combined audience targeting engines you can put to work for yourself.
Goodreads also provides extra exposure for your blog. Your existing blog feed can run through your Goodreads author profile page, instantly putting it in front of a larger audience. Pretty nifty. This exposes those awesome blog posts you’re worked so hard to create to a not only huge, but voracious audience of waiting readers. This community loves to read things – show them everything you’ve got!
It’s also a nice, non-threatening way to interact with the writer community as well as engage an audience who wants to read your genre. Readers can ask you questions on your profile page, writers of various genres can ‘friend’ each other for support and you can even add video book trailers or other video content to enhance your book listings.
You don’t check Facebook analytics
To better target the posts on our author brand page to times of day when your followers are online, you really do need to have a look at your page’s analytics.
Even if you’re not a marketing expert and don’t understand the more technical aspects, at least check to see when your followers are online. Use the info to guide what times of day you schedule posts. Facebook has a lot of info about pages, but one of the easiest to work with is a large bar graph that shows when your followers are online. This is broken down into hours of the day. Knowing when more of your followers are on Facebook, you can make the most of your marketing on that platform by scheduling posts when they’re most likely to see them. This will help extend the reach of your marketing efforts.
Also check for which types of posts get people engaged. Once you hit upon the types of posts making an impact with your audience, post more of the same. It seems a simple thing, but the end result will be a more engaged community.
You Spam the crap out of your social media channels
Marketing ads for your self-published books are important. At the same time, it’s never cool to flood your channels with your own marketing. This hurts you more than it helps you.
Everyone has their favourite medium, but when you don’t make an effort at all to connect with your following through any platform, everything you post just becomes noise. It might work for a bit, but people will then tune it out and no one will see the next time you announce a book release.
Marketing experts advise an 80/20 blend as your aim. Use 80% of posts to be interesting, post curated, relatable content and engage with your followers. The other 20% of your posts use for targeted book marketing. This makes these posts show up better and will keep it fresh. As in, everyone hasn’t seen it a thousand times already. If it’s fresh? Chances are higher they’ll check it out.
Your blog posts don’t help your marketing because they have no images
By far, images and graphics make the most impact through any marketing avenue. Good to know. Yes, you’re a writer and you work in text. Yes, text is important to rank better with search engines. But images make people stop and look. It’s that simple.
If you don’t already have one, get yourself a good source for high-quality, royalty-free images. Aim for those free for commercial use. There are several around like ABSFreePic or the free media resources for Photography on Wikimedia Commons. There are also some handy tools for those who don’t feel themselves terribly creative in the graphics department. A step beyond photographs, you might want to take advantage of an online graphic creation platform. Some of these, like Canva, hook in several of those royalty-free image sources (rather than only one) without you having to waste time searching.
When you write your posts, include a couple of images in the body to break up the text and add a featured image to make your posts stand out. An attractive image will make people want to click on your post.
You don’t refresh your blog posts
In addition to only selling books, at the same time, use your marketing to build up a loyal following. To do it, you need to reach more people. Makes sense. Have you been running your blog for a while? Chances are you haven’t looked at your oldest posts for a long time. But you should. Search engines love fresh content, so freshen up those old posts and use them as part of your marketing strategy.
If you didn’t add a target keyword when you first wrote those older posts, it’s to your advantage to go back and add one. Along with editing the text for higher keyword density, this will make those older posts more visible to search engines.
And don’t forget the ‘alt text’ and the file names of the images themselves. Leaving them as whatever the original file name was will hurt you. It’s always a good idea to include your target keyword as part of the image file name, as well as the alt text. This also helps your posts rank higher.