Jasmine Henry Answers Authors’ Burning Marketing Questions
I’m just going to go ahead and get a whole bunch of awkward statistics out of the way. There’s a lot of information for free on the internet. 2 million blog posts are published every 24 hours, enough to fill Time Magazine for 770 years. Something like 3 million English books are released each year, despite the fact book sales have been on a steady decline since 2007. All factors equal, your book has less than a 1% chance of ever making it into a bookstore.
We’re living in an era of content abundance, which is why the small percentage of authors who are picked up by major publishers are resorting to even sketchier paid services to make it onto bestseller lists. Are you feeling depressed yet? Well don’t, because I’m here to talk about marketing. Not the kind of slimy marketing that means contracting with a “guaranteed bestsellers firm” and stepping back, but the kind that requires your time, muscle and sweat.
Jen was kind enough to ask her network for input on their burning questions about marketing. We received a few submissions, which I’ll be addressing in this post today:
Tracy Slonaker wants to know where to put her energy, because she’s tired. You and me both, sister.
I’m a firm believer that you basically don’t exist online without a blog. BIA/Kelsey research has found that 97% of online consumers are headed straight to a major search engine to perform research on products and services. Only 3% of these consumers are ready to make a purchase the first time they Google. Having a website that’s filled with fresh and compelling content will put you first in line to make BFFs with major search engines. While the exact ins and outs of how search engines decide to rank content is a mystery, it’s clear that websites who often publish fresh, compelling and authoritative (original and well thought-out) information will probably be at the top of the search results for queries like “YA novel with lots of dragons,” or whatever else you write about.
Sydney Logan wants to know how she can promote her personal brand without breaking the bank. She’s tried pens, magnets, keychains and more. What’s next?
I’m going to take a slightly controversial stance here, and warn you that I’m mostly operating off experience because I’m not aware of any double blind, scientific studies on author giveaways. Give away your time, because you can’t scale effort. It’s the most valuable, non-renewable resource you have, and it’s bound to result in word-of-mouth recommendations.
Consumers still value word-of-mouth recommendations more than any other form of marketing, according to Nielson Research. 92% of consumers trust what their friends and family have to say, while only 70% care deeply about online reviews. Building relationships with people who are going to tell their friends about how awesome you are might actually matter more than your GoodReads or Amazon rating. Your next giveaway should be an opportunity to give an up-and-coming author feedback on their first chapter, concept or steamy love scene. Total cost to you is $0, and I bet they’re going to be a lot more likely to Tweet to their friends and family about their new talented BFF author who gave them feedback and effort than a keychain.
Erin Anderson may have asked the toughest question of the night, so hats off to her. What’s the worst thing that authors do all the time?
There’s a lot of bad things I see often. Terrible email marketing that doesn’t follow the laws of the CAN-Spam act, which is federal law. Spammy social media and blog articles that don’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t already been reading the author’s blog for a few months. However, I’m going to go with my first impulse and say it’s simply failing to stand out. Why should anyone buy your book if it’s the same as 3,000 other novels published this year so far?
Kathy Caprino, who writes for Forbes, thinks that it really comes down to self-awareness and market research (buying your competitors’ books for a hate read). You have to know specifically what makes your [books] better…and be adept at communicating that.” Some of the artists with the best brand marketing I know aren’t afraid of the weird. Jen writes about her husband’s creepy tendencies. Nashville-based band The Lonely Biscuits sends their fans swag in exchange for hilarious memes. I can’t tell you where to hang your freak flag, but by all means, let it fly.
If you didn’t get a chance to ask your question on Twitter or Facebook, chat me up in the comments. I’ll be lurking and waiting for you, in a non-creepy way. I’m always happy to connect with talented authors, and it might increase the chances that Jen and M invite me back.
Jasmine has more than 11,000 followers on Twitter, even though she’s pretty boring. She likes riding in Jen’s car, wearing Jen’s pants, and eating Jen’s quesadillas. Also, she’s Senior Copywriter at Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville, and you can holler back here.
J and M invite you to ask questions in the comments. Jasmine will be with us all day, so pick her genius marketing brain! If she can’t get to your questions today, we’ll invite her back for more fun and learning.