One of the biggest certainties about marketing trends, including book marketing trends, is that they are always in a state of change. This has a lot to do with changing technology. In nearly every aspect of every day, someone is marketing something to each of us. Since I am in the business of book marketing, I pay close attention to stay on top of the hottest trends and best practices so I can make solid recommendations to our authors.
Ultimately, there are some common practices that authors are best served to stay away from. By avoiding some of the pitfalls associated with each of the marketing trends I am identifying as no longer working (there are seven), authors will be able to improve—even maximize—their promotion efforts.
1. Generic Anything
In today’s world, we are slammed with thousands of impersonal messages and ads every day. We are beyond saturated with messages that are not on target. Our inboxes are filled with emails that don’t pique our interests, just waiting for us to respond. But we don’t respond. Attention is the new currency, and in order to both get it and keep it, you have to make things more personal.
Instead, personalize everything. Personalizing your outreach always takes longer and considerably more effort, but is generally worth it in the end. We’ve all gotten the emails that say “Dear Sir” if you’re a woman, or “Dear Madam” if you’re a man. These emails always seem lazy and very rarely get our attention. However, emails that are personalized (“Dear Penny”), or even start off by attempting to connect go a long way.
For example, they might say something about a blog post you wrote that the sender enjoyed, or maybe you’ve connected on Facebook or Instagram and they loved your recent vacation pictures. Whatever it is and whatever you’re doing, don’t be generic. This works even in pitching—and especially if you’re pitching bloggers or the media. Make a comment on a recent story they did, or blog they posted. Just a small, thoughtful addition like that will make your pitch stand out amidst the dozens or hundreds of other pitches they’ve gotten that week.
2. Print Ads
An author recently told me he was holding off doing any marketing until his ad ran in the New York Times. He had bought a $5,000 ad in the book section and was eager to see how it worked. It ended up being a $5,000 mistake. Print ads, unless you’ve already got a platform, are best to avoid. And even if you do have a platform, they’re still sketchy unless you’re already well-known.
Instead, try ebook ads. Ads, like the kind you buy to promote your ebook, work well, but truthfully, I am beginning to see the effect of these fading; you actually have to do more ads now to get the same amount of bounce. Thankfully, most ebook ads are cheap, so you can still do a lot of them and spend far less than you would on print.
3. Generic Blog Tours
This ties back into generic anything. You used to be able to host a blog tour and see the momentum for your book kick in almost immediately. That’s not really the case anymore.
Instead, try genre-based blog tours. Blog tours that are focused on your book topic, specifically, are far more effective and a better use of your time and money. They tend to be more work, but they are absolutely worth it in the long run. Regardless of how many book blogs you get featured on, focus on the niche blogs. This is not just because you want to stay away from generalized topics, but also because you reach a more highly focused audience.
4. Press Releases
Unless you’re well-known or have something major to announce, it’s a better use of your time and money to use social media and your mailing list to spread your message. That said, before you go down any path, even mentioning the release of your new book, think carefully about why anyone would care. Although writing a book is a grand achievement, no one, perhaps beyond your immediate family and friends, may care enough to click over and buy it. So save your big announcements, and big drum rolls, for something that really matters.
Instead, try a newsletter. According to Experian, “Transactional emails have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email, and can generate 6x more revenue.” Newsletters can really help you cut through the noise on social media to get in front of your readers with specials, promotions, or new information on your topic. Also, make sure your website offers an easy way for visitors to sign up for updates, even if you don’t plan on using it for a while.
5. Expecting Social Media to Sell Books
Once upon a time, you could actually sell lots of books on Facebook without having to buy any ads. As you’ve likely discovered, that’s not the case anymore. In fact, that’s not the case for any social site, even Pinterest, which has a history of being a good buying haven.
Instead, use social media to boost visibility. Look at social media as a method of exposure. But even then, be careful how much time you throw into your social media because not all exposure is created equally. I always like to say that you don’t have to be everywhere—just everywhere that matters. Essentially, you don’t need to be on every social media network, but you should be on at least one that has a strong tie to your industry and use it to create personal connections. Again, avoid being generic. The more personal you can get with your social media, the stronger your connections will be—even without buying ads.
6. Bad Blogging
Blogging is important, and many of us would blog for the sake of blogging. That said, there’s a lot of content out there, and much of it isn’t really worth our time. With all the noise in our daily lives, it needs to be really good for us to want to spend time reading it.
Instead, practice good blogging skills. Put out solid content even if it means reducing how often per month you blog. Instead of blogging every day, consider posting once a week with stronger, better content. This is a case in which less is actually more. Readers will appreciate the effort, but almost more importantly, so will Google. You may see more traffic for one great piece than for five mediocre posts that are only interesting to those closest to you.
7. Promoting YOUR Book
It’s easy to get pulled into this one. But, realistically, not many people care that you wrote a book. That’s what makes a marketing trend you’ve got to watch out for!
Instead, promote THEIR book. In this case, it’s all about refining your messaging. Focus on what this great book can do for THEM. For years, I’ve been telling authors to market what your book can do for your readers, and that’s true now more than ever. People pay more attention when you talk about what’s in it for them. So promote the benefits, promote how it’ll make the reader feel, what they will learn or how wildly they will be entertained. That’s the key when it comes to creating a sales pitch that will actually sell.
Ultimately, these seven marketing trends don’t necessarily hurt (except possibly in the case of the $5,000 Times ad), but they’re not going to be the best use of your time. As busy as you probably are, it’s best to focus on efforts with the biggest payoff. Stay flexible, be prepared for what you KNOW to be ever-changing, and focus on the most efficient use of your marketing time and budget.
This article originally appeared on The Verbs.
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