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9 Examples of Marketing Tactics Learned by a New Writer - Who Should Know Better!

OK I'll get my admission out of the way first. I'm a marketer. Not of the red shoe lace variety, though I am known for a snappy suit or two!


So, as a first time author, I've embarked on the promotion and marketing of my published sci-fi novel myself. All myself. I have an amazing team who could do things for me in seconds, but I wanted a project and to 'walk the walk' of their day to day world so I understand it - so I've done it all myself. I'm only a couple of months in - so this is a firm "PART ONE - to be continued" for sure!


A picture of a smartly dressed man sitting at a table surrounded by lots of confusing marketing reports.
Marketing can be confusing for anyone!

Here are my examples of marketing tactics & lessons so far - both positive (I think I did well) and negative (I could do better or 'that didn't work as well as I wanted').....


Branding & Visuals


This is the one area where I got some help - a kick-ass graphic designer who knows his stuff, and he kindly helped me create the book cover, back cover, and a few "atmospheric images" that I could use to kick start the brand. Although my good friend did an amazing job, I'm lucky to have special people like that in my life, not everyone does, BUT I can for sure say I'd PAY for this to kick start my journey again if I had to. It sets everything off nicely.


TOP TIP: Get a professional to get you the best cover and a few associated brand images you can. It will pay off in the long run even if you have to pay.


Website


I used Wix - not for everyone for sure - but I've found it very good. Easy to follow instructions, powerful editing tools, and mostly a drag-and-drop approach to website building. I started simple with a skeleton that was simply "Home", "About", and "How to Buy" and then I've since added reviews, this blog, and a host of other complexity.


TOP TIP: If you choose the right service you CAN do this yourself. Paying to build a website can get expensive - don't do it unless you really need to.


Contacts & Email Marketing


So who do I know? You have to be careful with data these days in light of GDPR. So I took a whole bunch of contacts known to me from various social channels and my own address books etc - and amalgamated it all into one master excel file. Then, importing into WIX was easy. and I was able to run an email campaign, ensuring I made it easy to unsub and also giving context as to why people were receiving the mail, and a commitment I wouldn't spam. It's worked well so far - though I did have to run the data about 10 times, as Wix halts email campaigns if you get too many bounces. So I added a customer field for everyone who had been "SENT" the intro email, and kept re-running the campaign to everyone who had NOT been sent it yet. This allowed Wix to scrub the data and I moved back from 2000 contacts to less that 1000 in the process. At least they now all deliver. Result!


TOP TIP: Manage your data, and don't be afraid to send someone something ONCE, as long as it's easy for them to unsub. Wix allowed me to do that easily.


Social - Set Up


Wow what a minefield. My marketing experience is in the b2b sector, so it's mainly managing contact lists and using LinkedIn for work purposes. For an author, it's a b2c world, and you need to be on ALL the socials. I knew a bit about Facebook and Instagram and am relatively proficient on "X" so they were easy. TikTok? Wow what a learning curve, as was YouTube. Luckily I have an 8 year old who helped coach me on these channels, and I've now got the book listed on TikTok Shop also. I decided to go "wide" early on so I am trying all the channels there are, including GoodReads and The StoryGraph and other book related social sites.

TOP TIP: Decide on your strategy and stick to it. Going wide is a lot more effort that being focused, but it's a choice I made. It depends on your target audience and who your niche is.


Social - Growth


So, you've got a ton of profiles, all with maddengly different password types and image sizes, and you're feeling pretty pleased with yourself! Now what?

"If a tree falls in the forest but no-one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?"

Ever feel like you are talking to yourself? That's what social accounts with limited followers are. Now this is an area I'm not very good at. I get that you are trying to find your niche customer, people with similar interests, and so on - and that's what I've done. But almost 2 weeks in and it's PAINFUL to get growth. I'm not yet even at 50 followers on Facebook, but I have got over 100 on Instagram, X and TikTok. I NEED multiple thousands on each platform. Oh and I've just started a YouTube, there's another one to manage. Breathe!

TOP TIP: I'm open to suggestions here, and some advice. Any tips for me? I can only think of "play the long game" and "slow and steady wins the race"........HELP!


Paid Ads


Ugh! I get to make Zuckerberg and Musk even richer by paying for them to distribute my content?

"Uh huh sure you do".

So far I've taken baby steps, the odd facebook ad here, a tiny TikTok one (that got me 130,000 views and over 100 followers I might add!) and now I'm dipping into Amazon PPC and am bidding on keywords. The piece here that keeps me sane is I KNOW who will (mostly) buy my book. A variety of ages, mostly from early twenties to early fifties. People who are interested in gadgets, home automation, self driving cars, and maybe the odd consiracy theory. So I keep trying these people and these avenues, in a mix of places, but mostly English speaking countries. I live in the UK and work with a Canadian firm, visitng there 5-6 times per year. So those two countries were a good start, and Amazon UK was quick to get the book listed in any case. Then I added in USA, and finally, South Africa, where I also do a lot of work. My 100k TikTok views were mostly from there, as I did a paid ad for UK and SA over about 3-4 days. I'm still testing, still trying out "different" things and not putting ALL my eggs in one basket.


TOP TIP: Know who you are selling to, and then find those people on social, and use the keywords and interests that your audience has to find them also.


Reviews


I am sure everyone gets bombarded on instagram asking to review and post your book on social for a small fee. QUALITY is better than quantity anyday. A lot of these sites have bots for followers, and when they post you won't see any engagement. I took a slightly different approach - I partnered with 2-3 reputable websites (NOT social accounts only) who do this kind of thing. I paid for a couple of reviews (they do NOT guarantee to give you a good review) and held my nerve while I waited. I've now got x2 reviews that are both 4* each with some great quotes that I've used. Now I'm live on Amazon, my next tactic is to try to get loads of reviews there, haven't worked out HOW yet, but I'll get there.


TOP TIP: Focus on quality, only deal with reputable websites that have good followers and communities. Avoid the insta-scammers like the plague.





PR - Public Relations


This is in it's infancy for me, but my publisher recommended it. A "little black book" of the right contacts is crucial, and getting eyes on at the right time is also something to cherish. So I've got a good PR agent, it's not costing a fortune, but I've got a well written press release and it's coming out soon. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.


TOP TIP: Try it. Don't be afraid - my motto in life has always been "shy bairns get nowt" which is a famous saying from North-East England. I stand by it.


Local Marketing


OK so I am starting this. And it's scary. I posted on a few local sites that advertise small businesses. I'm "going to" (GULP!) pluck up the courage to go to the local book store with books in hand. I did talk to the team in Waterstones who were very supportive. I've contacted a few blogs and I might even do a podcast if I get the chance. A friend of mine kindly put me in touch with a book club, and I'm going to ask my local barber to host a copy while people wait. I've also made some business cards - just very simple with cover deisgn and QR on the back, and I'm going to hand them to people. Word of mouth spreads, and people buy from people they like. My wife is helping talk to the school yard mums, and I might even persuade my 8 year old to take some business cards in for his teachers.


TOP TIP: Also "shy bairns get nowt" - but this one really is scary! Writing is very personal, and people will not all like your work. It's like being 15 again and asking girls for a date and have a few laugh at you. So horrible, but I'm grinning and bearing it!!!





Well that's enough for PART ONE! I'll do a follow up just after release day.


ANY OTHER TIPS FOR ME? Please comment below or post to my social or DM me. Genuinely looking for some ideas............


Speak soon!





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