Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Reasons your book isn't selling: Blanket Promotion

Welcome back to Reasons your book isn't selling, where every Wednesday I discuss common mistakes I see authors make that are hurting their book sales. Last time I talked about ignoring local marketing.

Today's reason your book isn't selling: Blanket Promotion


So, let's talk about what blanket promotion is, why you shouldn't do it, and what to do instead.

What is blanket promotion?

You've all seen this, even if you didn't call it by the same name. This is when an author just throws their book out into the wild in the hopes that it sticks. Blanket promotion is the twitter user whose entire feed is amazon buy links and reviews for their own book. Blanket promotion is the author who sends out the same, generic "I'd love for you to buy my book and leave me a review" email to every single person in the contact list. I get these in my agency email at least once a week. Blanket promotion is the Facebook user who signs up for 300 different book related groups and then posts the identical "Look at my book" message in every single group, every day, and that's the only time they post. Blanket promotion is the person who can be having a normal conversation on social media, but always manages to twist the conversation back around to "Hey, I wrote a book. Wanna buy it."

Blanket promotion follows this idea that if you just keep tossing your book at the world, eventually, someone somewhere will want to read it.

Why you shouldn't do it?

So let's just assume that you all understand that this kind of promotion efforts make you look like an amature and also the equivalent of a loud fart in a crowded elevator. No one likes it and we can't avoid it, so we hold our breath until the ride is over. Don't be an elevator farter.

But besides this, it is also a huge, collosal waste of time. You can spend hours posting in hundreds of Facebook groups, but your aren't selling any books. And this is where a lot of authors fall into the marketing trap. They point to all these posts and say "Look at how hard I'm working at marketing my book, but no one is buying it. Marketing doesn't work, so I'm not going to try anything else." I swear to you, I have heard this conversation on multiple occaisions. Blanket promotion is spinning your wheels. A lot of effort and no pay off, other than getting yourself banned and unfriended on social media.

What can you do instead?

Discoverability is a real concern for new authors. But you don't solve this by shouting about your book from the rooftops to anyone with ears. Instead, focus your time and efforts on marketing tactics that might actual work to sell your books.

1. Target your readers with audience specific info
Hint, this isn't a buy link to your book. This is information, fun facts, interesting personal tid-bits, and other items worth sharing that your reader audience will enjoy and/or benefit from. 
2. You get to shout about your book for a limited amount of time, then that's it
On your release week, you are a special magical unicorn. Go on ahead and share your buy link and promo those reviews. By all means, share your good news with groups in which you are already an active participant. But you get one week and one week only, because next week it will be someone else's turn and your fans will be ready to hear about something other than you book.
3. Social media accounts are not free advertising
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook and Twitter were not created so authors could spam their books at people. They were created for us to be social. So go use them to be social. Sure, you can do an occaisional post about your books, but for the most part, just be social.
4. Don't be rude
I shouldn't have to say this. I shouldn't have to say this. I'm saying this anyway. No matter what you do, don't be rude in your marketing efforts. This includes interactions online with your readers, your contact with reviewers/bloggers, and anything else you might do. Ask yourself, if someone else did what I'm about to do, would I think it's rude? If the answer is yes, don't do it.

There are a lot of wonderful (and effect) ways to promote your book. Throwing buy links at your readers like throwing spaghetti at the wall, isn't the way to go about it. Don't waste your time and energy on counter-productive efforts. Save the blankets for cozy reading time.

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