It’s time for another guest post! This week’s guest is author B.S Gibbs who discusses collaborative marketing ideas. Enjoy!
It’s no secret to authors, whether traditionally or independently published, that marketing a book is one of the most difficult tasks that an author will undertake.
Not only are many of us introverts who would rather curl up with a book or sit undisturbed with our laptops to write, but marketing any product requires specialized knowledge. Marketing is not an innate skill.
So what should we do? We could choose not to market our books. However, much of the fun of writing is to reach readers who might enjoy our books. The only way we can reach those readers is to engage in marketing – whether we like that or not.
The “Standard Advice”
Searching the Internet for marketing tips for authors reveals a mix of “standard” advice. Such advice includes using social media to draw attention to oneself (without any direct marketing), running ads on Facebook and/or Amazon, hosting free book giveaways, and writing newsletters.
Unfortunately, everyone seems to be using those techniques and while some seem to claim these techniques work, if you are reading this article, chances are that they have not worked well for you.
From my own experience, these traditional marketing methods take a lot of time and the return on that time investment often doesn’t exceed the investment. The result is wasted time that could have been spent writing, as well as a hefty dose of frustration, and often, monetary losses.
Circumstances are more dire for authors of children’s books. The reason is that children’s book authors cannot market directly to their target audience (nor should we try).
Instead, we have to market to “gatekeepers,” i.e. grandparents, parents, teachers or anyone else who might buy a book for a child.
However, gaining the attention of a “gatekeeper” doesn’t always reliably translate into a sale because the gatekeepers and the target readers have different interests and expectations.
In other words, what a parent might find interesting, or think his or her children may be interested in, may not match the child’s interests and preferences. For instance, a book that a child would be interested in if he or she had direct access to a book might not make it past the gatekeepers to the child.
Thus, it seems as if much more effort must be expended by children’s authors in their marketing to get past the hurdle created by the inability to directly market books to the target readers.
Given that the “standard advice” is to use techniques that are labour-intensive with less than reliable results, I have been giving thought lately to whether there might be some other creative ways to market books.
My deliberation has led me to consider the extent to which collaborative marketing with other authors might help an author spread his or her marketing reach in a less labour-intensive manner, and hopefully with improved results.
Here are some ways that authors can work together collaboratively to market each others books:
1) Newsletter swaps
If you have been collecting subscribers for your newsletter, you may be able to reach an agreement to “swap” newsletters with a fellow author in a similar genre. The way this works is that each author agrees to market the other’s book in his or her newsletter.
In other words, you include a write-up in your newsletter (perhaps a review) about the other author’s book and the other author returns the favor to you using his or her newsletter.
If you’re careful about which authors you team up with (ie., read the books first), this is a very good way and easy way to increase your marketing reach. Additionally, maybe some of those new readers may sign up for your newsletter as well, growing your newsletter subscriber list while you gain new readers.
In turn, the larger your subscriber list grows, the more attractive your swap offer appears to another author.
2) Twitter Clubs
Authors can join cooperative Twitter groups where each author in the group either tweets or retweets a designated Twitter message.
In this way, you can arrange for others to tweet about your book so that you aren’t constantly using your social media to “directly” advertise your books.
Please note, however, that while this is a great way to spread the word about your books without you having to directly market them on your social media, there are caveats to consider.
First, your Twitter group should be relatively small. Otherwise, you may be filling your feed with constant marketing of books, which is as bad as directly Tweeting your own book all the time.
Second, you need to screen your group very closely because when you join these groups, you have to agree to tweet all of the messages for the day.
That agreement can become a problem if one of the authors writes books that could be offensive to your target market or that you otherwise feel uncomfortable marketing.
3) Joint events
You might also consider hosting joint book events. Such events can be in person or online. For instance, you might organize a local book festival, or an online meet and greet.
Either way, by bringing a group of writers together in one place for readers to meet, and through collaborative marketing of the event, each writer stands to benefit from the increased attention to his or her books. Such events can also be a lot of fun, as you meet and speak with potential readers.
Such events can also help to increase your own newsletter subscription list. For an in-person event, put out a sign-up sheet, preferably in view of an adjacent candy dish, or for an online meeting, include a newsletter sign-up option in your online promotion.
As discussed above, marketing books is difficult but is especially so for children’s book authors.
However, with some creativity, you might think of ways to work with other authors to efficiently spread your marketing reach while helping them do the same.
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About B.S Gibbs
B.S. Gibbs is an author of several middle-grade fantasy books, including the Emaleen Andarsan Series.
She’s a mother of two and an attorney by day. Most recently, she started a website to highlight great fantasy books by indie authors, which is at www.fantasybooksforkids.org.
B.S. Gibbs also writes for adults under the pen name Brenda S. Gibbs.
Janette & the Book Thief
Janetta loves to read more than anything else. However, one day, the last chapters of all her books disappeared, ruining them.
Worse still, she next discovered that the disaster was not limited to just her books. It had happened to fiction novels everywhere.
If the destruction continues, she learns, fiction novels will soon become a thing of the past. All hope is not lost, however. A book fairy invites Janetta to fairyland for a special mission.
It’s up to Janetta to solve the mystery and restore the books she loves! Will she succeed or will books be destroyed forever?
This chapter book for kids is illustrated with intricate, beautiful drawings. It also contains positive themes about the love of reading, kindness, inclusiveness, and anti-bullying.
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Big thanks to B.S. Gibbs for giving her time and knowledge to this post. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please take some time to check through her links.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the section below 🙂