Marketing can be complicated, but only because we make it so. There is so much advice out there on how to sell your books that your head probably spins just thinking about it. Marketing, like every other business operation, has best practices (things that work), and practices you should avoid. There is no one magic bullet book promotion that will skyrocket your books to the best seller list. And trying to copy the success of other authors can lead to frustration if you don’t have the same success level, budget, or knowledge they have. Marketing needs to be a customized experience for every writer. And nobody knows you better than you.
You can take the guesswork out of choosing the right book promotions by applying the outcomes of the promotion you are considering to the Book Promotion Value Matrix. This is a tool my agency put together to help writers identify promotions that offer the best return for their money. Many promotions promise lots of benefits—some of which you may never realize. But figuring out if the promotion has value is something you must do before you invest your personal resources (time, money). The Book Promotion Value Matrix separates the value of promotion opportunities into four easy to understand quadrants:
First, we need to define a couple of marketing terms: reach and engagement. Reach is a primary measurement defining how many people will see your promotion—in marketing we call this eyeballs. This is what many promoters brag about: how many Twitter followers they have or Facebook friends. But this measurement alone is basically worthless.
Reach: Least Valuable and Less Valuable
Reach has two categories: qualified and unqualified. Unqualified Reach is what many of the shyster-type promotions have. Those Twitter packages for $19 that promise to reach thousands offer only unqualified leads. Most of their followers are gamed, either by purchasing them or garnered through automatic follow-back systems. They are not qualified readers, and most likely, not people who are the least bit interested in buying your books. These kinds of Unqualified Reach promotions are in quadrant 1: the least valuable kind of promotion you can purchase or spend your time on. Stay away. Anything on Fiverr in the book marketing section is automatically out. Five bucks is five bucks. Pool that money and spend it in a different quadrant.
Qualified Reach is defined by people who fulfill some type of qualification in the audience that you are looking for: readers, people who purchase books regularly, readers of your genre and so forth. The more qualifications they have, the more likely they will see and engage with your promotion. Some Qualified Reach promotions lead to general engagement—some will not. Much of that depends on the platform and how well your book is differentiated there. An example of a promotion in this category might be a tool that lets you list your free book on a number of established free book platforms, like this one from Book Marketing Tools. For $15 you can submit your free ebook to over 30 book sites. That is Qualified Reach—the sites appeal to people looking for free ebooks. You may get lost in a sea of noise on those sites, but for fifteen bucks your book is there on a site proven to attract readers. It will never be a primary channel for selling your books, but it could be part of a larger marketing plan. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a tool has a qualified audience. Do your homework, ask around, Google the tool and see what comes up in the search results.
And not all Qualified Reach promotions are created equal. For instance, a BookBub ad has a proven large return but its ability to develop a loyal audience is not proven at all. However, if you want to sell a boatload of books or free downloads as a one-off kickstarter, a BookBub ad is well worth the money.
Engagement: More Valuable and Most Valuable
Engagement is when someone takes an action on something you post, whether it is a like, comment, share, favorite, click through on an ad, review, or recommendation. There are basically two types of engagement: general (likes, favorites, clicks, and comments) and invested (shares, recommendations, reviews). Both are a step above reach, but General Engagement does not have the value of Invested Engagement. I am not taking your book and recommending it to my friends on my site with General Engagement. I am just giving it a social wave or clicking on a link. In engagement we are all attending the same party and developing relationships. Reach is a pool of invites for all the parties out there.
Invested Engagement has the highest value. A share, review, or recommendation indicates a level of loyalty and commitment not present in the other engagement actions. I am partnering with you to let others know I like and recommend your books. Those partners may be people on your advance reader team, social media ambassadors, or book bloggers. They are people who are basically promoting your books with their actions on their own platforms.
Word of mouth is the most valuable promotion you can possibly get. The promotions in that fourth quadrant (Invested Engagement) are built on social media, email, and your website. Developing Invested Engagement takes time, money (if you are building an email list) and marketing knowledge. It’s easy to buy a package or a promotion, it’s harder to build your own proprietary audience. But building your own audience is much more valuable than just handing over your credit card info for an unknown result.
The Invested Engagement quadrant is about building relationships with people that like your books and will recommend them to others. This is where you should be spending the bulk of your time, money, and resources. You want to choose promotions in the engagement quadrants as much as you possibly can. Avoid the Unqualified Reach promotions. Look for proven opportunities in the Qualified Reach quadrant. Do your homework before you spend any money on anything.
If you’re interested in learning how to do your own marketing and use tools like the Promotion Value Matrix, I will be offering a class in January that teaches authors how to do their own marketing. You don’t need more information, you just need the right information. The class has a 100% guarantee because I know if you take it and learn the principles you can effectively sell more books and build loyal fans. I am also giving away a bonus package of Facebook marketing videos to the first 25 that sign up for the class. If you’d like an early bird notification to register early and have a chance at those bonuses, sign up here and I’ll send you an email for early registration. I am not using this email for anything else, so don’t worry—I won’t spam you with other stuff. Sign up for early notification here.