The first step is understanding search vs. discovery.
600,000 books are self-published each year, so if you don’t market your book it will languish no matter how good it is.
Unless you suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, you know this of course. Even J.K. Rowling had to dig in and subject herself to 100% failure at first, in the form of rejection from every single publisher approached.
Authors have it good these days.
Once she found a wizard-friendly publisher, Ms. Rowling let them do all the marketing for her book. She didn’t have a choice in the matter, since this was back in the mid 90’s when the Internet was only beginning to be privatized and commercialized.
She didn’t have access to the wonderful wide world of self-publishing and DIY marketing that we enjoy today. Lucky you: as a modern author you get to avail yourself of the endless marketing opportunities provided by the world wide web.
DIY marketing is overwhelming.
Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to suffer the endless, soul-crushing rejection of publishers that Ms. Rowling went through before she found success.
It’s no longer a question of whether to market your own book, but how.
How you push sales is the real dilemma… and not because of a lack of options. The truth of the matter is, there are so many routes to exposure it’s hard to sort them all out and know which are feasible for your book.
Most authors find that having so many DIY marketing opportunities spread before them on the internet buffet to be a little daunting, to say the least!
Here’s the good news: if you understand the basic marketing concept of “Search vs. Discovery”, it all becomes a little more clear.
Search vs. discovery.
Bushwhacking through those countless marketing techniques to discover the pathway to success for your book is a big job. The first step in sorting out your options is to know the difference between search and discovery.
Here’s the difference.
Last week my oven went on the fritz. After only ten minutes of baking it loses its mind and starts up the cleaning cycle, holding my biscuits hostage while it locks up and turns up the heat to the “incinerate” level.
Knowing it was a loose wire on a circuit panel, I went online to purchase a new control panel for my oven. I typed the make, model, and the keyword “control panel” into Bing and sorted through the search results until I found the part and ordered it.
Last night I watched “Narcos” on Netflix. It’s about Pablo Escobar and cocaine trafficking between Colombia and Miami in the 1980s. This morning I wanted to see how much of the show is based on truth, so I did some digging around on the Internet.
In the process it became apparent that contrary to my understanding of the matter, Colombia is a wonderful place to visit these days. Now, I’m considering a trip to Bogota, even though all I meant to do was find out about the real story of Escobar (the show, by the way, is right on the money as far as authenticity goes).
Which works better for your book?
Do your readers know they want your book, or are you supplying something they didn’t even know they wanted? The lines aren’t necessarily clear all the time, so for many authors both search and discovery marketing will apply.
If you write nonfiction (i.e. the answer to a very specific question) then chances are your book is a candidate for search marketing. Keywords, title, and your genre will help corral readers into your barn.
But if you’re not penning how-to guides and technical manuals or survival handbooks and other nonfiction topics, then you’ll need to incorporate some discovery marketing into your campaign.
Discovery takes place on social media, other people’s blogs, a blog book tour, and reader websites like Goodreads. Discovery also takes place on forums (beware of plugging your book too much though- it’s a sure-fire way to get banned from a forum).
In the physical world, discovery can happen at a cafe, a bar, and even a supermarket bulletin board. It’s word-of-mouth, which can occur anywhere.
Discovery is better for the long haul.
Exposure is only the first step. After that’s accomplished you’ll have to worry about persuading people to buy your book. In my opinion, with the dichotomy between search and discovery methods of marketing, discover clearly wins out in the end for both steps.
That’s because the more your readers can find out about you, the more likely it will be that they become followers and loyal fans. That’s cultivated on social media, blogs, forums, and your very own website. Provide your future readers a fertile ground for discovery and you’ve set yourself up for success in the long haul.