With so many books out there on marketing advice, it’s hard to know which ones to choose. Here are three books you can check out. If you’ve already read them, let me know what you think.
There are indie writers who have found success and then shared their stories to help their fellow indies. Chris Fox, who wrote Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells and Bethany Atazadeh and Mandi Lynn, who wrote How Your Book Sells Itself: 10 Ways Your Book is Your Ultimate Marketing Tool .
Write to Market
Chris Fox hit the market at the right time with his first book. In his book, he tried to reverse engineer how he did it. He did a great job of explaining how to keep up with market trends and explaining what writing to market entails. The problem is, you can’t replicate a lightning strike. Although, theoretically, you can write to the market, you’d have to be writing at such a fast pace you might be sacrificing quality. The other thing is that you’d then have a brand that is tied to writing to market and rapid releasing. For some people, that might work. For most people I’ve talked to, I don’t think it’s very realistic.
Chris Fox said that he had built his career continuing to write to market with his subsequent books, but I’d say that he is writing to his fan base, rather than to market. The “market” is fickle and mercurial (which he even points out). He writes stories that have similar tropes and are continuations of series. He mentioned that his fans like his books because of the content he consistently gives them, making me think that he is aware he is writing to his market, his fan base.
His advice seems a bit muddled between writing to market and how to maintain an established career. The advice for creating a lightening strike (aka writing to market for a top seller) isn’t as solid, as his advice for maintaining a career. Many of the tactics he mentions presupposes an established fan base rather than how to create one from scratch.
I do think that his advice is great for maintaining your career, but may not be the best book if you’re starting out.
How a Book Sells Itself
Bethany Atazadeh and Mandi Lynn wrote an easy-to-read guide. The tone is very conversational, like you’re out for coffee or drinks with your fave writer buddies chatting about how to market. Definitely an easy and fun read.
They say you need to get people to talk about your book (word-of-mouth) by writing a well-written book supported by good production (typo-free, good cover, etc). This is absolutely true. Word-of-mouth is definitely the best way for indie writers to market their books, and this is supported by marketing research. A book sells itself by being something people want to read and recommend to their friends. It is also true that word-of-mouth can work in reverse. If a product isn’t good, like a book that needs more editing or proofreading, word-of-mouth will kill sales.
They had some good ideas about gaining traction for word-of-mouth buzz. What I found lacking was a good discussion about strategy, the why of marketing. Without the why, it makes it hard to tweak tactics to when marketing conditions change. If you’re completely new to marketing as an indie writer, this is a good book to get started with.
Entrepreneur Guide to Marketing
While the authors above are indie writers, Allan Dib, author of the 1-Page Marketing Plan, gave advice to a more general entrepreneur audience.
Alan Dib does a good job defining marketing jargon, like the differences between marketing, promotion, publicity, and tactics. He also does an excellent job giving examples of different kinds of tactics. He touches on strategy as well.
I don’t agree with all of his tactic suggestions. Sales for indie entrepreneurs is a different space than other products. How his tactics get executed in the indie creative space will look different. Tactics also need to be chosen based on the stage of your career. Have you just released your first book? Do you have a following of less than 1000 people? If so, the tactics you’ll use will be different than a person who has written a few books and has 5000-10,000 followers.
As a side note, how well a single tactic leads to sales depends on a lot of factors: has the tactic been overused, are there changes in the market, or changes in how people engage in marketing (like moving towards a particular social media platform over another).
For those who are needing clarity on the different aspects of marketing, this is a great book to read. For specific tactics, I’d look up what the bloggers and AuthorTubers, like Bethany and Mandi, are saying just to make sure that the tactic hasn’t gotten old or has been replaced by something else.
This is a good book to gain clarification on the strategy of marketing.
The main take-aways I got from these books are:
- To maintain a career, make sure your fans are happy.
- To get good sales, having a well-written and well-produced book is vital. Bethany and Mandi have good ideas about how to get started marketing your book. This is the best one of the three for a beginner.
- Allan explained the four aspects of marketing well. Marketing is the why. Tactics are what you do. You use tactics for promotion. Publicity is getting others to talk about you (for indies, this is their fellow writers, reviewers, and bookbloggers). Of the three books, this one has the most meat, but may not be the best one to start with for the beginner.
What if you don’t want to be your own marketer? It can help you start listing the activities you’ll need to do in order to market your book so that you can see if you can hire someone else to do either as paid, pro bono, or in trade. This deserves its own post.
I am currently not an Amazon Affiliate, so I don’t have any monetized links to these books. All three books you can find on Amazon, using the links I provided.
Edited and Updated February 3, 2021
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