Marketing Fundamentals For Authors

Posted May 08, 2021 by Joe K.
As an author today it can feel like you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. A lot of authors don’t start thinking about marketing until their book is finished. Of course, you do eventually want the book to sell, but putting yourself out there can feel a little overwhelming for those not used to working in the marketing world. 

Marketing is an aspect of the writing process that can often be overlooked. Let’s look at some fundamental questions to help guide your writing and build visibility for your book. 

Finding Your Target Audience

The first thing to be aware of is your audience. If you talk to new authors, many haven’t zoned in on this yet. You’ll ask them who their audience is, and you’ll hear something like, “It’s for everyone.” 

Big mistake. The ability to narrow down your audience means you have a better chance of selling your book. Imagine going into a bookstore. Where do you shelve a book “for everyone” that will attract the most potential readers? Young children, adults, historical readers, romantic comedy readers? Sure, many of us cross genres and read different things, but the surest way to attract the most readers is to know who your audience is. 

Define your niche. Even selling historical fiction, there’s such a massive range that you’ll need to narrow it down even further. The more precise you can pinpoint, the more you’ll know who your audience is and how to market to them.

You’ll market differently to those who love regency romance than you will to those who are looking for a historical fantasy adventure. You’ll recognize what they like, and you’ll learn what they don’t. Without knowing your audience, you’re simply another drop in the ocean. When you do find your audience, you’re more likely to make a well-defined splash.

Book Length and Format

Have you written a quick read for busy moms? Or an epic fantasy for somebody to get lost in over an entire week?  Understanding not only who your audience is, but what they are looking for can help connect you with more readers.

Is it a series? A serial? Is it a short read? Collection of essays? A long, sweeping journey? You can market a book based on these facts, just as well. Think of phrases like, “a fun, quick read” vs “get lost in a sweeping saga” and know there are readers for both. Some people loathe novellas because they don’t feel a story can truly be told with depth unless it’s novel-length. Others see a book is 400 pages and avoid it like the plague because they don’t have that kind of time to invest in a story. 

One is not better than the other. They are simply options. Learning how to leverage them will work in your favor. 

Covers As Marketing

Many new authors think their cover options are limited to an exact scene from the book or a character portrait. While this can be a great option for some, today’s book covers are more varied than ever. Many bestsellers have covers that only give a feel of what the book is about. It sets the tone. Look at the styles that are currently topping the bestseller list and see if there’s a trend that’s building in your genre. While it’s good to stand out, the problem is that if your audience doesn’t immediately register what your book will be about, you lost an opportunity.

Hook them by giving them familiarity. They are looking for a certain kind of book they enjoy. They know what that looks like. You want to hit that sweet spot; similar to others, while still having your individual feel. A good designer can help you find what’s trending with covers whether it be certain styles, colors, or fonts. 

Consider Your Branding

One of the easiest things to do when marketing books is to create a cohesive and consistent brand. People quickly recognize covers or fonts that have a unique streamlined look. “Oh, that’s a Stephanie Meyers book, or a Brandon Sanderson book…” When we immediately recognize a brand that familiarity triggers something in your brain. There’s comfort in recognizing something. 

Take advantage of this and create a brand that people know when they see it. Do you have consistent styles of fonts or colors? Do you always tend to use objects on your covers, or people? What about your website and ads? Do they speak in the tone of your brand? Branding is consistent across all channels such as your social media, website, newsletters, and covers. Make it easy to spot your books on sight. 

Does Your Blurb Hit the Spot?

The next place where you can hook a reader is your blurb. A cover is great eye candy, but it’s the blurb that hammers home the sale. What is your book about? Does it cover the important things a reader wants to know? Is it so elusive that they don’t know what it’s about? 

Your blurb should cover the basics of who the story is about, what they want, and the conflict they’ll face. People want to attach emotionally to the characters they read. They enjoy the story through the eyes of the character. We want to care about them. Give the reader enough information without spoiling the adventure! 

That can come in multiple forms depending on your genre and style. While you can stretch your creative muscles with your blurb, it is important to keep in mind that if you don’t include some groundwork for those three elements, your blurb may not be doing its job.

Remember, the job of the blurb is to market your book so that the reader buys it. An unread book is an unhappy book! 

Marketing Made Easy

When it comes to marketing, there isn't always a one-size-fits-all strategy. If you’re an introvert and the thought of social media gives you hives, focus on things you can control without that interaction such as cohesive branding, a good on-target blurb, and knowing who your audience is. If you’re a social butterfly, keep a consistent message across your different channels, so there’s consistency that your audience recognizes.

No matter what piece of marketing you target first, Author Builder is here to help. With built-in analytics and email services, Author Builder makes it easy to reach your growing audience. 

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