The publishing business has changed dramatically in the past few years. Today, nearly anyone can publish a book it seems. Hundreds of thousands of new books hit the shelves every year. But very few people are successful at all in regards to marketing their books, with the average number of sales being around 200 over the life of the author. Marketing books is a real challenge for many people. In my work with hundreds of authors, I have identified 10 primary reasons why a book marketing strategy may fail.
1. THE BOOK AND/OR THE AUTHOR ARE INVISIBLE
Today the Internet is the primary source of information for book buyers. But even those who buy books in the ‘real’ world use the Internet to do research before buying in the real world.
Book buyers, while doing their research, will NOT search by your name or your book’s title. They will instead search using a very generic phrase like ‘children’s book’ or ‘thriller’ or ‘spy novel’.
It is a fact that hardly anyone goes beyond page three of search engine results. Authors who hope to be visible to the book buying public must be on one of the first three pages for the GENERIC SEARCH TERM (like ‘children’s book) that describes their books. If you are not on one of the first three pages for that generic term, you are virtually invisible to nearly all book buyers. If you are invisible, nothing else you do in regards to marketing your book will matter much.
2. THE AUTHOR MAY BE USING THE WRONG APPROACH
If you are using book marketing ideas and book marketing strategies that USED to work (when bookstores were the primary book outlets) those marketing strategies will most likely not work much at all in an Internet. In fact, you will likely fail.
Today, Internet sites have taken center stage in regards to being the primary book outlet. To be successful in regards to selling books today, you must have traffic to your book marketing site, and you must have a lot of it. You must know how to convert that traffic into book sales. All the traffic in the world will not matter if it does not convert to sales.
3. THE AUTHOR LACKS AN EFFECTIVE SEO STRATEGY
In the ‘old days’ (just a few years ago) the strategy was to tell as many people as possible that a book existed and wait for sales to come in. This ‘yell and tell as many people as possible’ strategy simply does not work today, as the Internet is search engine driven. Telling a lot of people is very hard work, is very expensive in regards to both money and time, and relies on huge numbers to produce small results.
In today’s Internet environment, the potential book buyer begins by typing a generic phrase into a search engine, in essence saying ‘Here is what I’m looking for’. Book sites are then indexed by the engines based upon how important they appear to be in regards to the generic phrase entered and in regards to how that particular site stacks up against the competition for that generic phrase.
SEARCH ENGINES decide who is important and they decide who ends up being seen by the book buying public. Think of a search engine as a yellow page directory. You will only be listed in THIS one-of-a-kind gigantic online yellow page directory if you understand and follow the SEO rules given you by the engines. If you don’t know and understand the rules, you will be at the end of the listings. And, if you are at the end of the listings, no one is going to find you, as they will likely look at just the first three pages.
4. THE AUTHOR IS PRESENTING THE WRONG MESSAGE
Book buyers are interested in one thing, and one thing only – WHAT YOUR BOOK WILL DO FOR THEM.
Often authors like to talk about other things. But the book buyer is not really interested in the author’s history, how the author came to write the book, what lead the author to write it, how the author struggled. They want to know what this book will do for THEM. You must speak to THE BUYER’S NEEDS SPECIFICALLY. The author must do this. If not, they will have a visitor, but not a book buyer.
That desired message must be communicated to the book buyer in less than 30 seconds. You must know what your target market profiles really want, and you must provide it more effectively than the competition. If you are not saying what the potential book buyer wants to hear, they will never buy your book. Your book marketing strategy must speak to the needs of the buyer.
5. THE AUTHOR IS NOT COMMUNICATING A STRONG BRAND
When the Internet shopper goes to the engines, the shopper is presented with millions of authors and author sites. You may look very much like everyone else. Your book may be ‘just another book’ to that shopper. What are you telling that potential buyer that NO ONE ELSE is saying? Without a sharply researched, one-of-a-kind brand that speaks directly to the needs of buyers, as THEY perceive those needs, you WILL appear to be just like everyone else. A great book marketing strategy must communicate a strong brand.
6. THE AUTHOR IS NOT POSITIONED PROPERLY
Type a generic phrase such as ‘children’s book’ into the Google engine today and you will get over 30 million listings. Every one of those pages is presented to that potential book buyer. Your book is just one of those millions of listings. As an author, YOU know your book is not like all the rest, but the BOOK BUYER does not, unless you have taken a strong marketing position. An effective book marketing strategy must position you in relation to the competition.
7. THE AUTHOR IS NOT USING EFFECTIVE CALLS TO ACTION
All marketing sites are websites, but very few websites are marketing sites. A book marketing site must be sharp and clear, clean, and it must brand the author and position the author better than the competition. There must be a logical, step-by-step map for the visitor to follow and there must be compelling calls to action in all the right places. If you do not do this, you might end up with visitors but remember: a visitor is not a book buyer and won’t become a book buyer without a sharp brand, proper positioning and a strong call to action.
Anyone can build a website. But a website is just another website. A book marketing website, on the other hand, should be a results-producing machine and should produce the results you seek. An effective book marketing strategy will incorporate effective calls to action in all the right places on every page of the website.
8. THE AUTHOR MIGHT BE BORING THE BUYER
Most authors are not boring. But do remember always that the attention span of the searcher is very short. There are millions of competitors and competing websites, just one single click away. You have just a few seconds to present YOUR brand, YOUR position and the primary reason why someone should buy YOUR book. A good book marketing strategy will deliver a powerful and compelling message in just a few seconds.
9. THE AUTHOR’S APPROACH MAY BE PERCEIVED AS SELLING, RATHER THAN TELLING
An effective Internet marketing strategy can be compared to fishing. When fishing, no one jumps into the water, jams the hook into the fish’s mouth and tries to force it to bite the hook. This is what many book selling strategies are like – they are ‘in your face’ sales messages.
If you yell out your sales message, attempting to jam your really great book hook in their mouths, don’t be surprised when they swim away. (Think about how YOU feel about spam, pop up ads, Twitter-blab and commercials). It is a fact that no one likes to be sold. Internet shoppers do however love to find what they seek.
Instead, in this environment, you must offer irresistible bait instead, through the use of effective marketing language. The shopper (or in this case, the fish) will then come running, they will tell all their friends and they will bite your book hook willingly. A great book marketing strategy does not sell, but rather entices the visitor to action.
10. THE AUTHOR’S EXPECTATIONS MAY BE SET TOO HIGH
* Don’t put up a book marketing website and believe people will magically just show up. They will not.
* Don’t put up a book marketing website and expect people to buy. They will not.
* Don’t put up a book marketing website and believe you are finished. You are not.
As regards real world businesses, building success takes years and a great deal of effort. In the Internet environment, building your online store may take just as long – perhaps longer. It will require a lot of ongoing effort to make it succeed. The Internet is not a magic bullet. A real world business may have a few competitors just down the street. Your Internet business has millions of competitors, all right next door, just one click away.