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5 Simple Ways to Spend Less Time Marketing and Sell More Books

Book marketing sucks.

I know, bold statement, right?! Nonetheless, it’s one we’ve heard from our indie author pals over and over again. Part of me totally understands your frustration: you spend months or *years* pouring your heart and soul into your book. You have a compelling cover, proper editing, a perfect price and you finally release it —

Only to hear crickets. Worse than crickets, actually. Just silence.

Yeah, that sucks. So now you’re scrambling around, trying to figure out your target market, find readers, bribe reviewers, begging anyone — anyone — to just give your book a chance. You probably feel a little bit like the proverbial chicken that lost its head.

Do me a favor: just stop. Chill. Breathe. Book marketing isn’t the seventh circle of Hell and it doesn’t have to take up all of your time. You can sell books AND see your family! The key is to work smarter, not harder. Make that marketing time count. And I’m going to show you five simple ways to do just that (plus introduce a super-cool tool to give you even more ideas — but we’ll save that for the end).

Spend Less Time Marketing Your Book & Still Increase Sales

1. Find your readers.

When you market to everyone, you sell to no one. It’s true! Authors who sell tons of books don’t try to appeal to everyone — they sell to a certain group, and if others happen to pick up their book too, super-duper.

  • Choose a primary and secondary target market. Go through the steps in that post and you can’t miss.
  • Brainstorm where those readers hang out. Stuck? Find a similar author in your genre and do a little (non-creepy) fan stalking. See what other authors their fans like and check out where/how they spend their time.
  • Decide how best to reach your target. Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Offline? Use your notes from the steps above to decide on the top 3 places to find potential readers.

2. Have a plan.

You guys get sick of hearing it from us, I know, but you gotta have a marketing plan. Once you find your readers, this step is easy!

  • Create a timeline. How long do you want to spend on this round of marketing (let’s call it a campaign)? We recommend giving it at least a month, but choose a timeframe you’re comfortable with. Long enough to see results, but not so long you get burned out.
  • Choose goals. Make them SMART! You may only have one goal or several, but be sure they work together and won’t cause you to get bogged down or burned out.
  • Write action steps. How are you going to achieve those goals? Make a list of at least 5 concrete actions you can take to move toward those goals. Be sure to break down daily, weekly and monthly tasks.

3. Know yourself.

We’re all different. I’m a crazy introvert who, if you told me I had to give an in-person interview for my book, would run away screaming in terror. Not totally professional, I know, but understanding your personal strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes is key to successful marketing.

  • Do a self-assessment. What marketing tasks do you enjoy? There has to be at least one! For me, I love interacting with you guys in the comments here, Twitter and Facebook. Find the stuff you LIKE to do, and see how you can work more of that into your marketing plan.
  • Dip a toe in the water. The waters outside your comfort zone, that is. Look, even though I may hate in-person interviews, I would totally suck it up and do one if it meant I’d sell a dozen more books. Most marketing fear comes from stuff we’ve never done before — don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take a chance!

4. Make friends.

From the way some authors talk, you’d think they expect readers to pledge an oath to read only their books from now until eternity! Let’s get real: there are very few readers who only read books in a single genre, let alone by a single author. There’s strength in numbers: partner up with other authors and bloggers!

  • Reach out to other authors. Being an indie author is hard enough without adding isolation into the mix. I challenge you, right now, to go tweet at or email another indie author and ask how you could collaborate on a marketing venture (such as a giveaway, blog tour stop or even traditional shoutout-style cross-promotion).
  • Write a guest post. Find a blog that your readers might frequent and ask to write a guest post. Very few blog owners turn down guest posts!
  • Thank each and every reader. It can be easy to ignore Twitter mentions, Facebook/blog comments or emails, but don’t let yourself fall into this trap! Every single person who interacts with you has made a time commitment to you and your work. Take a few moments to thank them. Be specific and genuine, *not* generic!

5. Evaluate & evolve.

Book marketing is *not* an endless loop. Part of making that awesome marketing plan is having a definitive endpoint. This allows you to look back and see what worked, what didn’t and what you can do differently next time.

  • Have measurable goals. If those marketing goals you set were SMART, you’ve got this part covered! If not, just be sure you have some way of measuring your progress. This way you can see where you’re making strides (and what might need improvement).
  • Learn from the past. After a campaign, check out your results. Write down 3 things that worked well, 3 things that were a total waste of time and 3 things you learned for the next go-around.
  • Never stop growing. No matter how your campaign turned out, keep moving ahead! If it worked awesomely, you know what to do for the next one. If it didn’t, at least you know what not to try next time. Feel free to take a marketing break if you need one, but make it a two-week break — not a two-year one!

Need more simple marketing ideas?

The items above may be simple (and will totally cut down on your marketing time in the long run), but they’re not necessarily quick. If you’re looking for marketing tips more of the 5-minute variety, check out our brand new (and totally free) 5-Minute Marketing Ideas Generator. It offers a fresh marketing idea with every click of the mouse. Note: I spent all of yesterday working on it, so if you guys could check it out and let me know what you think, I will totally kiss your virtual feet (which, unlike real ones, are perpetually clean and taste like cookie dough)!

What do you think about the above? Do you still hate marketing? Will you give at least one of the steps above a try? Let me know in the comments!

  • JDM

    I love the marketing idea generator.

    • Woohoo! I’m so glad you love it, JDM. Thanks for commenting!

  • Tom D Harris

    You should be knighted for services to writers in my opinion. It’s just a shame I don’t have much influence over the Queen. Some great advice and reassuring that It’s stuff I’m doing too, but as usual I’ve picked up some more great ideas from this wonderful blog. Keep up the great work and love the Marketing Idea generator. Great stuff and Thanks again. I’m off to Buckingham Palace to put in a good word :)

    • Ha! We need a king/queen of the indie author community who could knight us, Tom (although I guess that would kind of be anti- the whole community of equals theme, huh?). At any rate, I’m so glad that you find our posts useful and please let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help you out! 

  • Thanks for the post, Toni, and for the Marketing Ideas Generator (it’s reassured me I’m doing *something* right, lol). Hope all goes well with your daughter’s arrival next month :)

    • Yay! Thank you for your comment, Joanna and Ron. So glad you enjoyed the post and generator. Thanks for the well-wishes on the new arrival as well — getting nervous, but excited! :-)

  • Thanks for the information.  Not every author has a degree in marketing.  We need all the help we can get.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Delinda! Our goal is to make book marketing something fun, too, instead of something to dread.

  • Fabo!

  • Sheri Bell turned me on to your site and I am fully engaged with the 5-Minute Marketing Ideas Generator; great job on that! Only one problem; I am compelled to spend more than just five minutes on it. Apparently it’s the Lay’s Potato Chip of quickie marketing ideas (can’t click on just one…). I have a new book coming out at the end of the month and will be savoring your every morsel of wisdom. Thank you!

    • Aww, thank you Cary! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. And, the great thing about marketing ideas (unlike Lay’s Potato Chips) is that you only *benefit* from the more you consume! Please come back and let us know if the ideas work out well for you. Good luck with the book launch! 

  • This was informative and not intimidating (I’m an introvert too:) I will use this plan as the results of my last marketing efforts (gave away a free book, did little teasers on Twitter) didn’t impress me much.

    • Yay! I hate to see our author friends intimidated by marketing…it really can be fun. I hope these tips work out well for you :-)

  • I am more like Cary, however, it is more like M&Ms instead of Lays Potato chips for me. Great job
    Anna
    http://www.hugabugtravels.com

    • Oh man, I feel you on the M&Ms, Anna. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Thank you! This is exactly what i have been looking for!

  • This is great Toni! I love the way you break it down in this blog post in simple terms. I’m actually, dare I say, excited about marketing. :-)

    • YES! *fistpump* Seriously, that’s all I can hope for. Marketing should be fun for authors — you get to share your work with the world; woot! We’re working on more tools to eliminate the marketing “scaries” entirely — we want to see you guys succeed :-)