Hello dear readers! This month’s book review is a little different from my usual fare because I’m covering a non-fiction craft book. Following last week’s post, I was motivated to dig into some deeper research on marketing, and was pleased to stumble across this How-To guide from one of my favorite resources. Today I’ll be sharing some notes and major take-aways that I hadn’t already learned from my earlier research! Hopefully this will include some insightful new information
This book is an incredibly detailed, thoughtful, and relevant look into the online publishing industry in 2021. It reiterates the fundamentals of building an author’s platform and offers advanced ideas for anyone who wants to take the business side of writing seriously. If you’re anything like me, you grew up with a lecture of “Writing isn’t a real career” and “you don’t want to be a starving artist, do you?” While it’s true that an extremely small number of authors become household names, there are countless other authors making a decent living off their craft and even working for themselves full time.
If this is your end goal, and you’re familiar with or at least willing to learn how to be a businessperson, then I highly recommend this book for you. If you’re not sure yet how much time and effort you want to put into your author’s platform, I still recommend this book, but specifically sections 1-3, which explain the fundamentals of how to make it in the publishing world. The language is very easy to understand, and it’s an excellent in-depth primer to get you thinking and planning for the future. Then, when you’re ready to tackle the advanced marketing and advertising sections of the book, you already have the reference material in your back pocket.
Additionally, the e-book is completely free. It’s roughly 60K words, but its an easy read and I got through it in about a week. The author, Ricardo Fayet is an expert in the industry and the co-founder of the company, Reedsy, which is how I found the book. Reedsy has proven to be one of the MOST valuable resources I’ve found in my researching endeavors, and I look forward to taking advantage of their free courses and other resources when I reach those points in my author’s journey.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the big ideas, shall we?
Authors don’t find readers, readers find books. To get readers, first you have to write a book that people want to pick up, and no amount of clever advertising will save it from bad editing, formatting, cover design, or pricing. Tied to this idea are four main “rules” of approaching book design.
- Know Your Target Market – people who aren’t in your target market won’t like your book. Even if they do read it, they’ll leave bad reviews, and that’s counter-productive. Focus your efforts on the people who will like it.
- Have The Right Product For Your Target– there’s a time to stop comparing and just write the book, but there’s also a time to compare your packaging to your genre and make sure it fits reader’s expectations. Do you have a similar cover design, font choice, and a competitive price?
- Learn The Secrets Of Amazon – this one’s easy. Amazon is by far the biggest book retailer and if you want to sell there, you need to know how to make it work best for you. This book explains a significant amount of these fundamentals in later chapters, but it’s worth a mention here too.
- Establish Your Web Presence – as covered in my last post, having a website, mailing list, and social media presence goes a long way to start marketing your book for you, before ever paying for an ad spot.
Don’t try everything all at once. You’ll be making a mediocre return on investment (ROI) at best, and wasting your time and energy and money. Pick one or two marketing elements and spend a month or two mastering them. Then once you have one aspect of your business working well, you can start learning something new. This is the most efficient and effective way to build a platform that actually works.
Word of Mouth is the most important factor in a book’s success. You won’t get fanmail or reviews from most of your readers, but if they enjoy it, that silent majority may still spread the book through word of mouth to their friends and family. Start by writing a great book. Enjoy the writing process. Take Editing seriously. When you launch, know that algorithms boost what’s already doing well, so it will take the first 100 odd readers for word of mouth to start carrying over into exponential growth. This is why community is so important to authors – not just finding customers but finding fans who will talk. If you like an author’s work, share it! It’s one of the biggest things you can do to help your favorite creators.
Take advantage of niche categories. By putting your book into a small and specific category, you can find interested readers and have a better chance of getting to the top of bestseller lists. Amazon will let you list under several categories, so choose the ones that best fit the story.
Consider “Write to Market” & Rapid Release. New releases get the most attention, so if you put out several books in a year, you can ride those waves to reach huge numbers of new readers. This requires you to keep up a steady publishing cadence afterwards, so it is a lot of work, but it’s a rather common tactic since your best marketing tool is your next book. Full time indie authors often put out two books a year, and it builds your backlog.
Write Series and Universes. This operates on the premise that if someone finishes book 1 and likes it, they’ll buy book 2 and you’ll make more money from a 2nd sale. This is called “Read through” and calculating this is a powerful tool to see where you’re losing readers and how many will buy your next book. Additionally, the more books you have out, the more money you make from sales/royalties in your backlog. Series and expanded universes mean that readers will want to go through that backlog to hear more about their favorite characters and worlds. Publishing standalones in different genres means you need to start pretty much from scratch in finding your target market and reaching those new readers.
Traffic x conversion = sales. No matter how many eyes you get on the book, it doesn’t matter if you can’t convince them to buy it. This is where having a great cover and blurb comes in. Getting good reviews also converts viewers into readers. 1% rule of conversion = if 100 people see your ad or listing, 10 might buy the book, and 1 might leave a review or share it with someone else
Assemble a street team. Before you launch, recruit friends and fans to yell about your book all over the internet. This can drive pre-order campaigns and build excitement for the book when it comes out. Send bloggers Advanced Reader Copys (ARCs) in exchange for honest reviews, and have a press kit full of graphics and post templates to distribute.
The rest of the book covers the following topics, which I won’t summarize here for the sake of time, but I will list them in case you’re interested:
- Amazon marketing: the algorithms, ranks, different featured lists, categories, keywords, “Also Boughts”, URLs, and Kindle Unlimited
- Wide Marketing: Non-Amazon retailers such as Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, and how to run pre-orders
- Mailing lists: providers, reader magnets, welcome automatons, list segmentation, cleanup, and newsletter swaps
- Price Promotions: examples, and BookBub Featured Deals
- Advertising Platforms: Crunching the numbers, affiliates, tracking conversion, and advanced breakdowns of Amazon, Bookbub, and Facebook ads
- Other products: How to create box sets, audio books, and international translations
If you’re interested, this is a link to the other Reedsy resources. Many of the articles and courses are free, they keep up-to-date databases of writing contests, editors, magazines open to submission, and offer apps to help with formatting and editing.
I hope you found this helpful! QOTD: Where are you in the publishing process? Are you excited or nervous for your next steps? Until next week, happy reading!