Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

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You will spends months, maybe years writing, editing, and rewriting your book. When all of that is done, you can release your work into the world with just a few clicks on Lulu.com.  For some authors the work stops there, but successful authors know that’s when the real work begins. How will you make your book visible in a marketplace full of books? How will you get your book onto the bestseller lists? Where will you find the time and the money to market your book to your audience?

For most authors, marketing a new book will likely be more challenging than writing it.  To help you focus your efforts, we asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how many hours a week they spend marketing their books.

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The majority of best selling authors (61%) dedicated five hours or less to book marketing each week. 16% — about one out of every six — said they spent 5-10 hours a week on marketing tasks. Only 25% of these authors said they spend more than ten hours a week marketing their book to their audience.

How much time can you invest?

Let’s face it, authors would rather be writing than marketing. It’s what you are good at, but without a marketing plan, your book will simply gather digital dust on some online bookshelf.

By breaking marketing tasks into small steps, you can make them more manageable, regardless of your time constraints. If you only have five hours a week, work in blocks of one to two hours. Keep plugging away until every item on the list below has been researched and completed:

  1. Define your audience
    • If you aren’t familiar with your audience and their shopping habits, research them to gain that understanding
    • Write a one-paragraph description of your target audience – what they like, where they shop, etc.
    • Find those people and get your book in front of them
  2. Write your book’s elevator pitch
  3. Create a website
    • Write a detailed author biography page and include a head shot
    • Set up an email opt-in to create a mailing list (see below)
    • Add a page for editors and bloggers to request review copies of your book
    • Add new articles, transcripts of recent interviews, and reprints of book reviews
    • Add a blog to your site. Update it at least weekly. Twice a week is even better
    • Add a page with contact information for interviews, events and public speaking opportunities
    • Add a page for your coaching or consulting services (if that makes sense for your business and market)
  4. Get a Facebook business page for your book
    • Update your page at least weekly
    • Add a way to sign up for your email list (see below)
    • Like and follow other Facebook pages in your niche and comment on their pages to expand your audience
    • Use Shopify to sell your books directly from your Facebook page.
  5. Set up an email list with a free email service provider such as mailchimp.com
    • Send an email update at least every two weeks
    • Use content from your blog or update your readers on your marketing efforts or how your next book is coming along
    • Include Lulu coupon codes for reader discounts in your email messaging to encourage shopping
  6. Identify 20 influential people to whom you can send your book
    • Create a promotion package
    • Mail the promotion package to those 20 people
  7. Secure 3-5 speaking gigs
    • Bring copies of your book to speaking events for audience members to purchase
    • Be on the lookout for other authors targeting the same audience. You can build a relationship with them and cross-promote each other’s books to build audiences and drive sales
  8. Research 1-2 conferences or book fairs to attend or to sponsor for a booth
  9. Find 3-5 niche websites where you could advertise or write a guest blog post
  10. Make your printed book look as good as possible. Does it need a new cover? Better typesetting?
  11. List your book on eBay
  12. List your book on Goodreads
  13. List your book in “Shameless Promotions” in the Lulu forums
  14. On an ongoing basis, spend one hour on each major bookselling site polishing up your book’s description and appearance
  15. Reach out to potential reviewers on the big bookselling sites. Aim for at least 20-30 reviews for your book
  16. Don’t give up. As one author said about marketing, “It’s hard work! But it’s also essential for the author to relentlessly promote a new book for at least 18 months after publication.”

 

phew giphyPhew! … Sounds like a lot or work, right? Well, put in just five hours a week and you’ll be further along than you’d think. And – here’s the best part – you’ll also be closer to making enough sales to brag about on your Facebook page.

 

Action item

Schedule one hour every weekday to promote your book.

Key takeaway

Once you have everything set up, marketing shouldn’t require as much of your time. The majority of successful independent authors spend 5 hours or less per week on marketing.

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9 Comments

  1. S. B. Jones-Hendrickson

    Excellent article. I will share wiyh my colleagues of the Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair. Oh, I will also put the ideas you suggesred in practice.

  2. Daniele Luciano Moskal

    Thanks Lulu, this is a most interesting article for all authors, whether a novice or an established writer – very beneficial in helping to increase sales using all advertising means available for us. I will definitely be using these useful ideas!!!

  3. patrick p cosgrove

    A surprisingly fresh perspective on a side of the fence people don’t even imagine.

  4. This is so beautiful. It really gonna help me so much. I will share with my friends too.

  5. Tasha Sophia

    Brilliant article, I was wondering, if the book is catered to art, and photography, is there a big difference to the marketing strategy, and also, how well does LuLu services, facilitate the printing of hd photographs?

  6. Glenn@Lulu

    @Tasha – we do indeed have book formats that cater to high definition photography. In the case of photo books, it should be somewhat easier to identify your audience and build a campaign to reach them. However, depending on your target audience, you may do better ordering books in bulk using our author discounts and coupons, then distributing the books yourself to local galleries, bookshops and designers. Just a thought to get you started. Best of luck to you!

  7. Thank you so much for the insightful information regarding: How to Promote your book. It was well written and understandable.

  8. What a timely article! My expertise is in marketing, but I am in the process of learning the ropes for book marketing and publishing specifically. It’s been an adventure for sure, and there is much to learn and understand. We are grateful for this very insightful and clear article. Thank you so much!

  9. Thank you for this article. Fundamental marketing principles in book publishing and data to show it’s worth putting in the needed extra miles. It’s right on the dime!!!!