1. Hi Heather! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thanks, Vikram, it’s an honor to be here. Just to give you a little bit of background about me, in 2008 I started volunteering for several online organizations. In 2009 one of them enlisted my help with writing, editing and publishing their books – and my career just kind of took off from there. I have since helped hundreds of different authors with all stages of their books, as well as written and contributed to book marketing and faith-based books myself. I volunteer with several online organizations, and work as a self-publishing-coach.com liaison, author, and author assistant.
I fill my days typing away on my computer, brainstorming new marketing ideas, and helping other authors make their dreams come true. I guess you could say that I’m living life to its fullest as a stay-at-home, work-at-home, self-employed mom, who is married to the man of her dreams – I can’t imagine that life could get any better.
2. What is the number one mistake that authors make when it comes to marketing their books?
Authors generally make one of two mistakes – and they are at the exact opposite ends of the spectrum. Either they make the mistake of thinking their book will sell itself – thus not marketing at all, or they turn into self-absorbed, self-promotional, broken records. On the one hand, no one will know the first type of author exists, and on the other hand, everyone will know who they are – and they hate them. Neither one will do anything positive for book sales.
The way to fix that is to reach a happy medium. Yes, you have to market your books – but you should do so in disguise. Don’t shout to the world to buy your book, but let people know who you are, what you know, and that you have written a book. I’m constantly telling authors that the phrase, “Buy my book” should not be part of their vocabulary. To get book sales, you have to build trust – and trust comes from building relationships and sharing knowledge freely. Instead of telling people to buy your books, answer their questions and then, if applicable, you can mention that you covered the subject in more detail in one of your books. If you write fiction, you can share what other readers have said about your books, or distribute short stories.
To summarize all of that: While you should never toot your own horn you should make sure that someone else is by giving them a reason to. Be real, be honest, and be helpful.
3. What can authors do to stand out from the sea of books that are flooding the market these days?
Think outside of the box. I can’t give you one key thing to make a book stand out – because then everyone would do it and it wouldn’t stand out anymore. The key is to find a way to be unique. I absolutely love the story of the author who handed out free copies of her book to everyone on the air flight headed to the place she used as the setting of her book. Not only did each one of those passengers become word-of-mouth warriors for her book, she also made the news – and that’s free publicity.
Obviously many of us don’t have that kind of a marketing budget, so it’s important to come up with ideas that work for us. Maybe you can plan a special promotion around a holiday mentioned in or related to your book. Find marketing ideas that are directly related to your book in some way or another will help the right audience find it.
Another way to use out of the box thinking to help your book stand out would be to use your passion. Incorporate book marketing into the things that you just love to do. I once saw a tent shaped as the authors book (front and back cover printed on the outside, with the ends looking like pages). Everyone at that campground spent the weekend looking at the cover of his trail guide book. Another author set up a food booth to market his book about adding flavor to life. Those books stood out because the authors were having fun promoting them and thinking outside of the generic book marketing box.
4. Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred social network for book marketing and why?
Facebook. I feel like I should say Twitter because it’s like ‘the place to be’ for authors. Most book marketers will tell you that it’s an invaluable tool (and I agree), however Facebook lets you build stronger relationships. I’m on Twitter. I post there regularly. And I have even seen a direct response in sales from some of my tweets, but Facebook doesn’t bring in a sale or two here or there, it builds lasting relationships between you and your target readers.
Facebook has tons of target groups that authors can join to help them both network and market their books. These groups are usually already full of people in your niche and it’s a ready-made audience to hear your message – as long as you do so tactfully and remember that shameless self-promotion is taboo. Becoming a high profile member in the right Facebook group can not only grow your sales, but grow your sphere of influence and while making key connections with other high profile authors and leaders in your niche.
5. How is your book – ‘A Year of Book Marketing’ different from the rest of the book marketing guides available today?
I’m so glad you asked, because it is different. Most book marketing guides available walk you through key marketing points or detail one aspect of marketing, A Year of Book Marketing walks authors through creating good marketing habits, and then provides them with daily marketing prompts and tidbits that they can read in just a few minutes and then put into action. The goal is to help authors develop strong marketing routines, and to keep them constantly moving forward on their book marketing journey. Instead of telling authors to market their book daily, I wanted a way to come alongside authors to HELP them. I believe that persistence and knowledge are irreplaceable keys to mastering book marketing.
The book is being released in two parts, part 1 came out on New Year’s Eve and includes 180 days of individual marketing prompts, tidbits and quotes from various best-selling authors/marketer. Part 2 will be released this spring with an additional 185 days of marketing. Both parts will be combined into a full edition and released in paperback near the end of the year. You can learn more about this project on my website at: http://www.authorshart.com/AYearofBookMarketing.html
Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. (Twitter – @bookbuzzr) Vikram is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family.