I get asked a lot of marketing and publishing questions. Most are easy to answer. But a teeny tiny nanosqueak percentage of them make my eye twitch. The ‘answer on a plate’ types who think there’s a magical panacea-button that will shower them in glittery dollar bills from their millionth book sale.
Anyway. I’m leashing my rant because contrary to excessive sarcasm and perpetual moaning, there is nothing I love more than helping people, especially if that help leads to selling or publishing books. And you know what helps you sell books?
Forehead creasing, caffeine addictions, midnight dates, multiple RSI cures and a laptop for a BFF.
Okay, fine. There are a few other things that rise out of the sweaty exhausted writer ashes to help bring in the dollars:
- Understanding the market
- Studying marketing
- Studying copywriting
- Being up to date with current trends
So here’s 6 tips to help you study the industry, learn the latest trends and strategies and pick up on the hottest new marketing tools.
ONE – POD-TASTIC
I listen to a bunch of podcasts. Anytime I’m in the car, at work, out walking, even cooking in the kitchen. Why? Because they’re current. They are recorded more or less the same week they air and the hosts tend to interview industry leading professionals. AND because they’re recorded and released so fast, the hosts report the latest news – from algorithm changes on social media and Amazon, to the most recent big chain bookstore closure, to the newest piece of software for authors. I can honestly say I’ve picked up an obscene number of tips and tricks from them.
TWO – AUTHOR EARNINGS REPORT
The author earnings report used to be a quarterly report from the infamous Data Guy. They paused those reports in the spring of last year after supercharging their analytics. Which now run in real time 24/7. They capture data on over a million top-selling titles a day, every day. If you sold a book (even just one) since April last year, they know about it.
Their data is now so accurate and so current that they’ve become industry leaders able to accurately (with hard data) describe the state of the industry, and it’s not as bad as you think.
I don’t know how frequently they will post reports now they are up and running again, but unless Data Guy wants to break my heart, I’m hoping it will be quarterly, in much the same way it used to be. Sign up for their updates. Or don’t. But that would be stupid. So sign up. And you can check out their latest report using their new hardcore data machine, here. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the report shortly.
THREE – SWIPE FILES
When it comes to marketing, one of the most important things you can do, is learn how to write awesome emails. If you don’t have a subscriber list, slap yourself with your keyboard and sort your life out. I’ve written some how-to posts on mailing lists here:
But I also have a swipe file folder in my iCloud – every time I see someone selling something, whether it be a marketing tool, books, or otherwise, I sign up to their newsletters and drop their emails into my swipe file. Then when I have time, or I’m about to set up a series of my own marketing content, I analyze the copywriting in the swipe files:
- What subject lines do they use?
- What are the sentences that draw me in?
- How do they use grammar to keep the flow going?
- What’s the tone?
And on and on. I use the findings I gather from analyzing their words to help me write better copy for my own work.
Also – check out CopyHackers – I’ve learned a bunch from them.
FOUR – COPYWRITING BLURBS AND SYNOPSES
“Copywriting is the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.”
In other words, it’s the blurbs, the taglines, click-bait headlines, and the catchphrases of the world.
Briefly, there are a million resources you can find online on headline writing – I’ve even written a post here, on writing clickable headlines.
Three things sell your books. Okay, fine, stop whining, there are lots of variables that help. But broadly, there are three key things that make a reader click that sexy buy button:
And typically in that order too. Having a catchy blurb is as important as my morning coffee, which if you know me, is essentially an injection of oxygen. But blurb writing is the bitch of publishing. I don’t know many authors that enjoy penning them, mostly because we hav to sell our modest selves, and after writing 80,000 words of story, condensing it into a paragraph is like sticking needles in your eyes. No one wants that.
To make your blurbs awesome, you need to learn how to awesomize them *that’s 100% a word*
The obvious answer is to read a ton of blurbs, analyze them and file them away as lessons. I wrote a post about blurbs here, but there’s also a couple of books I recommend:
FIVE – WEBSITES AND BLOGS
There’s endless advice online. Not all of it is good. But there are a few websites that are both a goldmine of information as well as being on point for tactics, marketing, and industry information. Here’s just a handful of recommendations:
FIVE – BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Marketing books tend to be split between tangible tactics and marketing strategy. You need a strategy in place for your marketing to keep you driving towards one resounding goal, whether that’s selling a million books, winning an award, or being a super fly niche queen and in your genre.
Marketing tactics are the things you do to achieve those goals. Here’s a selection of books I highly recommend:
SIX – PUBLISHER AND INDUSTRY SITES
There are a ton of other things you can do – like joining Facebook groups, going to conferences, I went to the 20BooksTo50k conference in Runnymede this past weekend and I’m also going to the London Book Fair in April.
How do you guys learn to market better? Let me know in the comments.
If you liked this post, why not get even more awesome writing tips in the book 13 Steps To Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains. Click this link and just tap the logo of your device or regular bookshop and it will take you to the right page. You can also get a FREE villains cheatsheet by joining my mailing list just click here.