Day 18: Beware of Copycat Marketing


You’ve heard the saying, “don’t reinvent the wheel.” I am all for saving time and learning from what others have done. But when it comes to copying another author’s book marketing, you need to be sure that promotion is a good fit for you. Copycat marketing is a good way to learn provided you’ve applied a set of filters to that promotion first.

The internet is loaded with stories of self-published authors who’ve found success marketing their books. We see them on every book marketing website. After all, we’re all looking for a shortcut, right? Before you run out and copy another author’s promotion, make sure it will work for you by applying two sets of markers:

  1. Basic Data Markers:
    1. Audience Potential Reach: If the author you are trying to copy has 5000 Facebook fans or an email list of 20,000 and you have only 200 Facebook fans and 100 email addresses, chances are that promotion will not return as well for you, especially if it relies on reach for success.
    2. Baseline Engagement: You can take a quick look at the author’s Facebook page and see what their engagement rate is. How many people are liking their posts compared to how many fans they have? Do their posts get lots of comments and shares? If the promotion relies on an email list, ask them how many subscribers they have and what their open rates are.
    3. Platform Level: Probably the most important of the three measures. How long have they been writing? How many books have they published? What is the ranking of their latest book or books? If they have five series of books, have been writing for years, earn a decent monthly income from their books, and you do not, you’re going to have to look at scaling their promotion to fit your resources in order to get it to work.
  2. Promotion Data Markers:
    1. Genre: Often not a differentiator but definitely look at fiction versus nonfiction as a key here. Nonfiction writers can promote their books a little differently than fiction writers so beware.
    2. Goal of Promotion: What was their goal? Was it building an email list, making a bestseller list, ad stacking to sell a bunch of books in a spike? Make sure if you are copying that your goals match. Each of those promotions has a different set of strategies.
    3. Budget: More often than not authors don’t take this into consideration but it is a huge differentiator in a promotion, especially if they’re talking about buying online ads.
Action Steps:
  1. When you consider copying what another author has done to sells more books, sit down with a sheet of paper, write down these six markers and systematically do your research, keeping track of your results. If you can match most of the markers and can figure out how to tweak the rest, you’ve got a good candidate for copycat marketing. If not, you may want to pass this one up.
  2. Find Facebook groups and forums where authors that are similar to you are sharing their marketing successes. Ask questions, offer advice. Be a proactive learner.