The most essential book marketing isn’t really marketing at all
In the vein of covering some basics of self publishing, let’s address that bugbear that many people list as their major problem: marketing.
Many writers have their priorities right. They realise that you first need to complete a book, edit it, and format it. Then you need to put it up on the retailer sites before you can market it. They might have heard from people that you can run Facebook ads or Amazon ads, or that you can book slots on listing websites, like Freebooksy.
If you know that much, congratulations, because those are all things that we do.
But actually, the most important marketing happens before you finish the book. Sometimes it even happens before you write the book.
So what am I talking about?
This is the type of marketing that will make your paid ads much more efficient.
It has to do with placing the book and making sure that all the book’s properties point in the same direction: the tropes, the cover, the blurb and the sample.
If you write a romance, you need to have a happy ever after ending, because otherwise it’s not really a romance. You need to have a cover that communicates romance, and a blurb that communicates romance. It really helps if you set up your two adversary characters in the first chapter, so that people who read the sample can see where it is headed.
Without these things, a potential buyer gets confused about whether the book is actually romance, or whether it has landed in the wrong genre. This happens all the time, so you need to be really clear about it.
It’s even better if you can determine a clear subgenre. I’m thinking about historical romance, or billionaire romance, or WWII historical fiction, or space opera, or epic fantasy with dragons. The things that are characteristic for those genres–a couple facing each other, the dragon, a WWII aircraft etc.–will need to be on the cover, and mentioned in the blurb. You need to make sure that the book is properly placed in those subgenres on all the retailers.
Misalignment of genre signals confuses readers
When a writer asks mentions trouble selling a book, nine times out of ten, all these signals are pointing in different directions. They have a nice cover, but it’s difficult to see what genre it is. The book is a fast paced thriller, but the beginning (the sample) is really slow and does not indicate thriller. The cover doesn’t suit the genre. The blurb doesn’t match the cover.
Make no mistake, this kind of stuff is not always easy, especially if it’s your first book.
I recommend that you study your genres, and that you buy and read popular books. Because a mismatch between genre and the cover, blurb, and first pages often indicates that the writer hasn’t done the homework. This is the type of homework that will make advertising your book so much easier.