Marketing Beyond Your Book Launch

Now that I’ve submitted my latest book to my publisher, marketing is on my mind. I know from past experience with my other titles, the book launch will arrive sooner than I’ll ever feel ready for.

Some authors seem to think marketing fits in a neat little window of time, however, this limited view can inhibit opportunities to move more books for a longer period. Like a “new to you” car, if your title is new to book reviewers, book clubs, libraries, organizations and associations, churches, or book sellers, you have an untapped market potential.

For almost four years now, I’ve researched, accumulated, and culled lists of those who can influence more book sales. Many nights, I’ve stayed up an extra hour or two, so I could add to my lists. To date, I have over 1,200 relevant reviewers, book clubs, libraries, associations, churches, and book sellers organized by genres and specific interests. (I ultimately invested money into training and paying people who could help me organize my lists faster.) I’m now developing relationships with many of these reviewers.

You can do this for yourself, but it does require a lot of dedication and persistence. And there are some important things I’ve learned a long the way. Maybe by sharing, I can save you a few expectation headaches.

Important things to remember about influencers:

  1. It takes time — getting your book noticed by influencers is not a microwave process; it requires crock pot patience. But the good news is, you can put your ingredients in place and let them simmer while you attend to other things. Come back and stir on occasion, and eventually, your efforts can reach a rolling boil if you have quality content. (No matter what you try, if the content is not of interest to readers, marketing will not get you very far.)
  2. There are a lot of reviewers and other influencers out there, but not all are still actively writing reviews, many are not a good fit for your title, and some with smaller followings are actually more effective in their reader reach. Literary matchmaking is one part art and one part due diligence.
  3. Many influencers have a back log of commitments, so it can take months before they are able to get to yours. But just because you don’t hear anything right away, does not mean they are not interested. I recently got this great review from a query I sent over a year and a half ago.

My years of hard work have widened the sphere of influence for my latest book, and my sales definitely reflect it. The foundation and process for generating interest are now in place, and something I can easily duplicate.

Connecting Authors and ReadersRecently, I also realized this was something I could duplicate for others. From my desire to help fellow authors and the publishing industry at large, bookinfluencers.com was born. It bugs me that the closure of book stores has left many readers challenged to discover “new to them” great books. So I’ve created an online community to bring authors, publishers, influencers, and readers together. We put our clients’ books in front of those who can reach more people on their behalf.

I’m not trying to sell you a service, frankly you can do this on your own. But if you are an author who wants to save time and energy while widening your reach, help is available. Check out bookinfluencers.com to find out more.

The important point here is not so much how you connect with influencers, but that you do. Long after that 30-90 day book launch window closes, there are many readers who won’t have heard of you or your title. So don’t give up. Keep at it. Get your book in front of influencers who can help market your book beyond the launch. You never know what one person with a spotlight can do a year and a half later.

Have you had success in getting book reviewers and other influencers to help spread the word about your book?

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Risking Rejection

Why are we afraid to fail? Often because we believe rejection exposes a gap in us. It points to something we don’t want others to see. It confirms what our suspicions tell us.

We aren’t acceptable.

As writers, we risk rejection from many different sources. Projects and people alike can make us feel unacceptable, and throw us into a pit of paralyzing despair. Any one of a myriad of things have the power to make us give up on our writing dreams. If we let it.Definition of Rejection

  • Literary agents can reject us.
  • Booking agents can reject us.
  • Publishers can reject us.
  • Editors can reject us.
  • Endorsers can reject us.
  • Influencers can reject us.
  • Reviewers can reject us.
  • Media can reject us.
  • Readers can reject us.
  • And through Self-deprecation, we can reject ourselves.

So how can you empower yourself to feel acceptable when rejection says you’re not?

Author Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall’s Blindness Didn’t Hold Him Back

Challenge your own viewpoint. Take a 180 approach and look at this specific moment as your personal catalyst for change, improvement, and a call to do better work. Jim Stovall, a blind author and movie maker, knows rejection well.

You’ve GOT to watch the video on his link to see what he says about giving up. Here’s a quote to give you a hint of the amazing story you’ll want to hear. “That big dream would not have been put inside of you if you didn’t have the capacity to achieve it.”

Author John Grisham

John Grisham’s Tenacity Made the Difference

Another powerful example of tenacity in the face of rejection comes from an author most of us recognize. Internationally acclaimed novelist John Grisham. He understands what it feels like to fail in front of professionals, but he chose to learn from his mistakes, and keep on keeping on.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of the greatest victory that came from the greatest rejection of all. A book that was denounced, fought against, and even after publication, faced efforts to utterly destroy it. But yet, the words inscribed inside changed the world, and made it a better place. The book I refer to is The Bible. Aren’t you glad God didn’t give up.

So the next time you get a rejection letter, phone call, email, or text, remember these three things.

Anita Brooks Walking Bridge Photo

Is Success Waiting Around Your Corner?

1. The capacity to make your big dream reality is already inside of you.

2. Rejection prepares us for great things in the future, and reminds us to stay humble when we arrive there.

3.  Just because a few people fight against your efforts doesn’t mean you won’t come out victorious.

Maintain a teachable attitude, then act with integrity, humility, and tenacity. This is your big dream. Take courage, and don’t let anyone convince you it’s unacceptable. Risking rejection can turn that big dream of yours into something real. But only if you don’t give up too soon.

The Book Review Conundrum

As a newly published author, I’ve found the review game an interesting one. Are all reviews good (1 star to 5 star)? What about paid-for reviews or even fake ones? What does this mean for an author?

I’m hosting book marketing consultant Rachel Simeone, with ZetaBlue Marketing, as she tackles the whole review question. I have not worked with Rachel personally but found her information valuable and am happy to have her guest blogging today.

Welcome, Rachel!

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With all the recent news about fake reviews on Amazon, a number of my clients have asked me if it is still useful to worry about getting reviews of their books. It is for several reasons.

First, even though readers are going to look at reviews with a more skeptical eye, they still offer the best “inside information” about your book. Readers who doubt the veracity of the five star reviews will simply begin to look at reviews differently. They will spend more time looking at three and four star reviews, pay closer attention to longer, more detailed reviews, and be more likely to trust reviews by top Amazon reviewers. But these differences will not change the simple fact that they are still reading reviews.

Second, there are a number of book sites out there that will list self-published books for free, provided that they have 10+ reviews with a review average of 4 or higher. Since today’s authors need all the free publicity they can get, these sites are an important source of potential readers, provided that you can get the reviews.

Third, new, positive reviews are newsworthy events that you can share on your blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. With each positive review, you are building in the mind of your prospective reader the perception that your book is a quality read.

Finally, good reviews create momentum. The more reviews you get, the more people notice, take a chance, and buy your book. The more sales you have, the better rank you get. The better your rank, the more potential readers see your book. And once those potential readers peruse the reviews, the more likely they are to buy your book, thus continuing the cycle.

So, given that getting authentic reviews is more challenging than ever, what is a poor author to do?

Friends and family
All writers hope that close friends and family will help them out by reading their book and reviewing it. I suggest that you formalize this process. Send out an email to your friends and family offering them a copy of your book in exchange for writing a review by a specific date. Send follow-up emails to those who request a copy reminding them of their commitment and the upcoming date.

Goodreads Goodreads is an important site for a number of reasons, not the least of which is as a source of reviews. Each time you run a Goodreads giveaway, you end up with a list of people who want to read your book. Contact some of them and ask them if they would be willing to write an honest review of your book in exchange for a free copy.

Other authors There are a lot of other authors out there who also need reviews. Find some authors who write in your genre and offer to do an honest review exchange. This approach can be a bit trickier, because you never want to write a completely negative review of a fellow author’s work. To avoid this problem, be sure to read an excerpt of the book before you agree to write a review of a book. If you see poor spelling, bad grammar, or sentence fragments and fear that you won’t be able to leave a semi- positive review, don’t agree to write one.

Don’t leave getting reviews to chance. With new clients, I generally spend the first two months actively pursuing 10 – 15 reviews for each of their books before the real marketing starts. Don’t skip this important step. Start actively pursuing reviews today.

What are your thoughts? What do you think the value is in getting reviews? Do you think an author should pursue paid reviews?

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Rachel Simeone is a book marketing expert with over 20+years of experience in Internet and consumer marketing. Implementing proven marketing strategies, Rachel develops customized marketing programs that attract readers and deliver sales. She is known for her innovative ideas that exploit hidden opportunities to give authors a marketing advantage. Previously, Rachel held strategic marketing positions at Time, Inc., Williams-Sonoma, and Gump’s, where she developed marketing programs and implemented best practices for America’s leading brands. If you are interested in maximizing your book sales and taking your marketing to the next level, contact Rachel today.

Reviewers and Endorsers and Influencers, Oh My!

You didn’t really think those book reviews in the New York Times or the major newspaper in your home town just appeared on their own, did you? Publishers provide advance review copies (ARCs) of  books to the reviewers at these papers. Multiply that by hundreds of publications, from large ones such as Library Journal to smaller or specialized ones such as The Suspense Zone and you see the magnitude of the process. There’s a good bit of decision-making in sending out ARCs to reviewers. But one good review at a major site can result in the sales of hundreds of books. Each publisher has a long list of potential reviewers. It’s the job of the marketing department to match each book with appropriate sites to receive ARCs.

As for endorsers, these are the people who write one- and two-line squibs that appear on the cover or just inside book. For example, the hope is that you’re more likely to buy my novel if you look at the back cover and see that a respected author said, “Lethal Remedy is the perfect cure for boredom: a first-rate medical thriller with humor, engaging characters, and realism that only a seasoned doctor could bring to the story.”

Who lines up endorsers? It varies. Authors, agent, publishers all participate in the process, and it varies with each of them. In my case, I personally contact all my possible endorsers. I make the following stipulations: if they agree, they’ll be sent an ARC with a view to endorsement if they have the time, can read the book, and truly endorse it. So far, the only negative responders have been those with time crunches due to their own writing deadlines.
Then what is an influencer? These are people whom you hope will read the book, like it, and tell others. They’re people with large blog followings. They’re church and public librarians. They’re the heads of book clubs. The list can be huge, but again economics rears its ugly head, so distribution of ARCs to influencers must be limited. I sweat bullets over the list I turn in with each book, knowing that I’ve probably forgotten some important people.

Writing the novel is just the first step. Then you hope to get an agent and eventually a contract. After that comes the editing process. Is that all? No, now you have to think about ARCs and endorsers. The fun never stops, does it?

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Richard L. Mabry, MD, is the author of the Prescription For Trouble series of medical thrillers. His latest novel is Lethal Remedy. He also serves the ACFW as Vice-President. You can learn more about him at his website and follow him on his blog.