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How Marketing Helps You Sell Books

Photo courtesy Thomas Hawk

What is marketing and why do I have to do it?

Marketing is a combination of two things–using research methods to determine who your customer is and combining services like advertising and public relations to reach this customer. It is, by no means, something that every writer has to have. If your goal is just to write a book and not sell it to anybody, then you can skip over all of this information. But if your intention is to actually sell a few copies and maybe even turn writing into a profitable career, you’re definitely going to want to know a thing or two about marketing.

Offline vs. Online Marketing

The first thing you need to embrace if you’re tackling your own marketing is that you have to face two different entities–offline marketing (promotions that take place off the Internet) and online marketing (promotions that take place on the Internet). In most situations, you will need to do some of both, but they won’t necessarily be proportional.

For example, my first novel took place in my hometown of St. Augustine, Florida. So between the fact that I had roots in the area and my book was staged there, it was a good, small market of people who would either have interest in me or my book or hopefully both. But if your book takes place on the fictional planet Cuisinart (which is inhabited entirely by kitchen appliances with personalities and feelings) you might want to invest more in online marketing tools like social media and blogs.

Social Media Marketing (Can I catch Twitter?)

Twitter is not a virus, and Facebook is not actually a book (you might ought to write that down, it will make your kids think you’re cool). They are in fact two of the hottest social media entities on the Internet. There are others, like MySpace, Google Buzz, and LinkedIn, but for the immediate future the trends seem to be sticking with Twitter and Facebook. Both websites offer users a chance to have a profile and basically create content within the site that other users can see.

With Twitter, people “follow” you which adds your comments to the list of comments they see each time they access their Twitter feed and you can do the same. On Facebook, you get a full profile that you care share with your “friends” as well as the opportunity to play games, use applications and create fan pages. The reason why Twitter and Facebook are marketing tools is because it’s an easy way for you to connect with your fans and keep them updated on what you’re doing. If you have an upcoming event, you put it on your Twitter and just like that, everyone knows about it. You post a link on your Facebook page to your new blog post and just like that, everybody knows about it.

S.E.O. — does that stand for Self-Employed Octopii?

Search Engine Optimization is the Internet’s newest (and often the most cost-efficient) way to bring traffic to your website. It’s a cross between an art and a science that involves finding popular key words and phrases searched for on the Internet that you can integrate into your site so that the search engines will give it a higher ranking when people search for those specific terms. The best S.E.O. is completely subtle and unnoticeable, like extras in a movie. It blends in. If it becomes to obvious, the search engines catch on and get angry. And you don’t want to see Google when its angry.

Break Glass in case of a Marketing Emergency

If all of this seems a little overwhelming, don’t panic. We’re here to help.  Even if you fully understand all the concepts involved in marketing and you’re confident that you can do it yourself, sometimes just finding the time to do it is difficult. Sign up for our consulting service and we’ll talk about the marketing needs of your project. We can help you create a detailed marketing plan, set up your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and help you optimize your site to get web traffic. If you’re ready to jump in yourself, check out other posts in the marketing section of our blog.