For Digital Book Promotion, Divide and Conquer…Patiently

For authors and publishers looking to optimize their book marketing efforts, targeting the right audience with the right content at the right time is a critical skill–and one that takes time to develop. That’s according to three experts who joined Digital Book World for a webcast yesterday to discuss promotional strategies in today’s digital marketplace.

The end-goal is getting an audience to “know exactly why it can’t get the same experience anywhere else,” said BookBaby chief marketing officer Steven Spatz.

The challenge in doing that is the fact that “building and keeping an audience has never been harder” even though the Internet has made it easy to get a message out, according to FSB Associates president and founder Fauzia Burke, who also participated in the webcast. That paradox, Burke suggested, has changed the book promotion game considerably.

For one thing, it’s lengthened it. Gone are the days of just promoting a book upon its release and then moving on to the next season’s titles. Not only does Burke recommend that authors “promote a book for at least as long as it took to write it,” she also stresses planning a long-term strategy for many months, and even years, after a title’s publication.

That requires developing unique relationships with audiences over time. “There is no ‘Everyone-dot-com,’” said Burke. “You have to be as segmented as possible.” Figuring out how to group content strategically requires continual trial-and-error, and sales don’t always reflect how successful a content marketing strategy actually is in the long run.

At the same time, experimentation in book marketing has never been easier, said Workman Publishing director of digital strategy Thea James, who also joined yesterday’s webcast.

Digital distribution means even small publishers and indie authors can try out different pricing strategies and build verticals, then quickly shut down anything that doesn’t work. Many retailers have built-in deal capabilities that James advocates taking advantage of. Additionally, the ability to adjust metadata continuously can become a real asset. If there turns out to be a lot of competition in the categories where a title is positioned, “just switch it up,” she says, until you find out where it performs well.

That takes patience and a willingness to fail, then go back and try again. But those insights build up in the long term and, taken together, are arguably more powerful than any one promotional tool on its own.

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