Enter the internet, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Today, many writers who were previously unknown and in some cases rejected by top publishing companies have broken out on their own and shot into the literary stratosphere overnight. These self-published authors go on to sell countless copies of their books, with several becoming millionaires in the process.
That is the kind of potential that the internet has for a writer with serious talent and a plan. However, like most things in life, becoming a successful self-published author isn’t as simple as it sounds.
The Missing Link for Success with Self-Publishing
If you’ve ever completed a manuscript, put it online and then sat back waiting for the sales, reviews and money to roll in, you’ve likely been sorely disappointed. If your Aunt Sophie and best friend from middle school are the only people who bought your last title, you probably feel like becoming a self-published author is a pipe dream.
The truth is that the only things standing between you having a finished manuscript to release and actually making a decent living from your book sales are branding and promotion. That’s it.
The best definition of marketing that I’ve ever seen states:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and process for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
After reading that statement you can see how this explanation fits into your goal of becoming a successful self-published writer.
The main cornerstones of effective marketing are branding and promotion.
- Branding is defined as the expression of the value of a product, service or organization.
- Promotion is the act of raising customer awareness of a product, brand or organization.
Put these two elements together and you have an unstoppable combination that has the power to change your approach to book marketing while also greatly improving your chances of long-term success.
But as a self-published writer, how can you utilize the power of marketing effectively?
After all, that is why most writers hope and dream to be picked up by one of the major publishing houses.
These publishers are masters of marketing and branding. Having your book selected and promoted as “the next big thing coming to bookshelves near you” has the ability to change your life overnight.
If you’ve been rejected by established publishing houses or just want to try releasing a completely independent publication, what is the best path to success?
It’s building a list.
Why List Building for Self-Published Authors?
“List building” is a term usually associated with internet marketers. However, when your goal is to achieve any form of success as a self-published author, as far as the marketing side of things go, you need to think and behave just like an internet marketer would.
It doesn’t matter how many times a day you Tweet or if you have a large and active Facebook group. You could update your blog 5 times a day with the most compelling content known to man but if you’re not building a list, the results you’re getting will likely be far below what you’d get if you did have one.
There are seven list building truths that every self-published author should know and understand.
- Your list belongs to you and you alone.
The most important benefit of building a list is that your list is yours exclusively and forever.
Unlike social media networks and other platforms that can shut down your account at any moment or go belly up leaving you without an audience, building a list removes this potential issue completely.
- Your list connects you with people who actually want to hear from you.
Because email lists are permission-based, you only end up communicating with people who have voluntarily signed up to receive your marketing messages. This is an important aspect of creating a pull marketing strategy (which tend to have better success).
Having an audience eager to hear from you beats forcing your marketing messages onto people who have little to no interest in your offer.
- Your list attracts and prequalifies members of your target audience.
The very nature of proper list building guides each one of your prospects through several stages of your marketing “funnel” before they actually end up on your list.
This funnel acts as a sift that reduces the bulk of people who only have a vague or general interest in your niche and whittles that group down to the few who are a perfect match for your offer. This makes your message that much more relevant.
- Your list lets you tap into your prospects email.
In today’s fast-paced world it’s very easy for people to avoid or tune out the social media updates that bombard them on a consistent basis. However, email is one method of communication that most people rely on heavily and check at least once a day.
Building a list taps directly into this tried and true vehicle for sharing your marketing messages and allows you to build an ever growing audience over time.
- Your list can be used as a springboard for other types of promotion.
Building a list lets you point your audience in the direction of any other of your marketing channels.
Have a Facebook Page, Twitter Feed or YouTube Channel? By linking to each one of your web properties from your main email list on a regular basis, you raise awareness of your brand while also creating additional opportunities to reinforce and cement your marketing message.
It’s important to also note that you will likely have prospects who would prefer to consume your marketing messages in a variety of formats (for example articles, blurbs or videos).
- Your list makes your message standout.
With so many independent authors competing to attract attention to their work, it’s common for messages to get drowned out amid all the marketing noise.
The average person follows several people and groups on social media, which makes it extremely difficult to stand out. However, email marketing allows you to face much less competition when it comes to attracting attention, particularly if you are very good at writing compelling headlines.
- Your list gives the biggest ROI on investment for your marketing efforts.
Studies show that email marketing provides the highest return on investment of any type of marketing activity today. In fact, on average, for every dollar spent on email marketing you can expect to receive approximately $40 of revenue. If that doesn’t excite you, nothing will.
The bottom line is that by building a large, loyal and ever-growing following with your list, you will have essentially created a more level playing field for yourself as far as marketing your books effectively goes. You can promote and sell your books time and time again to a ready and waiting audience that can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
Also keep in mind that creating your own initial buzz and attracting a dedicated fan base is highly effective for getting the attention of well-established publishing houses, which often leads to something great.
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