This month’s Industry Influencer is John Kremer, the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, editor of the Book Marketing Tip of the Week e-zine, and webmaster of a dozen websites—the most important of which is www.bookmarket.com, a leading resource in book marketing and book promotion. Read John’s advice to new writers trying to reach a broader audience, which social media platform he thinks is most valuable for writers, and how introverted writers can make the most of self-promotion.
John, we love your site (especially the “free stuff” page and your “Tip of the Week” newsletter!). How did you find your way into being a book promo expert?
I started out as a frustrated author waiting for a publisher to say yes. I finally decided to self-publish one of my books, but at the time (over 25 years ago), there wasn’t much information available on how to print books, market books, etc. So, before I started to self-publish, I did a lot of research. As a result, my first book was actually a directory of book printers (because I needed that information myself).
Well, other authors and publishers loved that directory, but many authors then told me they needed more information on how to sell the books once they were printed. Well, I knew at least 101 ways—and so I published that book, which later became the 1001 Ways to Market Your Books for which I’m best known.
When is the best time to start promotion efforts for a manuscript or book?
I believe the best time to start promotion is when you have the idea for the book. Right at that time of inception, start talking about the book. Start sharing your thoughts via your social networks and/or blog.
If that idea intimidates you, then start at least 3 to 6 months ahead of your publication date. And then continue to promote your book up to three more years. I believe that every book deserves at least three years of attention from the writer, even if that involves only a few minutes each day. The constant, everyday attention on marketing your book works more wonders than all the money you could throw at all the marketing options paraded before authors every day.
How can new writers (those who don’t yet have (m)any publication credits) begin to reach out to an audience for their work?
Build a community, aka a tribe, online. The best way to do that is by writing a blog and then interacting with other like-minded bloggers, website editors, e-zine editors, and other book authors writing on your subject. These interactions should drive traffic to your blog where you can capture the names and emails of potential readers. That way you begin to build a list of e-zine readers who become the foundation of your fan club or tribe: the people who will help you promote your book when it finally comes out.
What’s your favorite social media platform for writers, if you had to pick one?
My favorite is Pinterest, because I pin all my blog posts and ideas—and then re-post the most important pins to Twitter (via Pinterest) and then on to Facebook and LinkedIn (via Twitter). So with one pin I reach all four of the most important social networks. I love doing the least and accomplishing the most. Of course, I also repin other people’s posts, retweet other people, and share the posts of other Facebook users.
The other thing I like about Pinterest is that it is forcing me to revisit my previous blog posts and website pages, add graphics, and then pin those graphics. This allows me to reinvigorate all the information on my websites and blogs, thereby drawing in new readers and new fans.
What advice do you have for authors who are introverts or who are not good at “getting out there” and selling their books? Any tricks to help them conquer their lack of love for promotion?
The neat thing about most Internet promotion and social networks is that they allow book authors to interact with the world while remaining at their desk. I love the power of online promotion because it allows us to reach people around the world from the quiet of our own homes.
The key in any online promotion is to be honest, absolutely honest. Tell the truth. Speak your heart. That’s something any introvert can do, no matter how shy. Someone once said that the key to good writing is to cut a vein and let it bleed on the page. That is also true for book marketing, Internet marketing, publicity, and any other promotion.
For authors who are creating their own websites, what would you say is the most powerful element for driving sales?
The most powerful element in any website is the form that captures people’s emails for your weekly newsletter (and that newsletter should be weekly—short so you actually write it every week and from the heart so you can build your tribe). Most authors entice visitors to sign up for their newsletter by offering them a free e-book, MP3, or report that can be downloaded once visitors enter their email address.
Remember: The key to any marketing is building relationships. For books, that means building relationships with other authors, with your readers, with your website visitors, with your e-zine readers, with other bloggers, etc. The more relationships you create, the more effective you will be in getting readers for your book and selling that book as well. The key here is not to treat promotion as a burden. Instead, think of it as a party, because that’s what building a tribe really is—creating one friend at a time and then enjoying the dance of that relationship.
QUESTION: How have you embraced self-promotion as a writer?