Market Your Book: Knowing, finding, and selling to Your Audience

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You wrote and published a book. Congratulations! Now what? Well, now you have to market your book!

Now it is the time to think about the business of marketing and selling it. The most important challenge you face after publication is getting your book in front of people who want to buy it. Where do you start?

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We asked 4,000 of our top-selling authors to share some of their secrets to success. Over the next few weeks, we will share their insights. While you may find some of their answers to be painfully obvious, others may surprise you.

Perceived Success

Our survey begins with the reasons authors think their book was a success. Some information is surely from gathered data, but the question leaves room for authors to provide what they think ‘felt right’ in their own marketing plan.

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The top 3 answers are all representative of understanding and providing content for a very specific audience. Again and again the words “niche,” “audience,” and “filled a need” came up in answers to this question. As one author said, “Make it your overriding passion to learn as much as you can about your audience and then give them what they crave.”

Take note of two related answers “Only book of its kind” and “Subject matter/topic.” Many authors stress that successful books require a fresh perspective on a popular topic or that they address a subject that’s never been written about. One author said their book was successful because “it fills a niche with no competition for content, quality or clarity of presentation.”

Also, take a second look at the votes for “Author platform.” Later on, we’ll look at the different elements of an author platform, and which parts of the platform our best-selling authors think helped them the most.

What Should You Do?

Define your audience. What are they interested in? Where do they spend time online and in the real world? How do they satisfy their need for content similar to yours – for example, blogs, magazines, social communities, events, or video? What can your book offer this audience that’s not available anywhere else?

Key Takeaway – Know Your Audience

The most important step in marketing your product—whether it’s a book, a business or a lemonade stand—is understanding your audience. Successful independently published authors credit knowing their audience and filling a niche as their key to success.


Real Readers

With a sense of who your audience is (and will be), it’s time to go out and get them. We asked 4000 successful Lulu authors how they found the audience for their book. Their responses, while touching on many of the common answers, are still revealing.

Marketing Series 2 Finding Your Audience

Most authors wrote for audiences they either consider themselves to be a part of or groups whose needs and shopping behaviors they have familiarity. This made determining how to reach their audience easier because they had an idea which marketing channels would most grow their reader base.

Is this true for you? For example, if your book is on health and fitness and you have identified your audience as other like-minded fitness enthusiasts, you may already know several websites these enthusiasts regularly visit to learn about fitness and to make purchases.

If you are writing for an audience you do not know that well, you are not alone! Nearly a third of authors conducted online research to discover what made their audience tick and how to find them. They identified pre-existing professional networks, organizations and online communities to reach readers who would be interested in their content.

What Should You Do?

Make a list of and, if possible, join professional networks, organizations, and large communities to promote your book. Remember, pitch the hook, not the book. Start out with your area of expertise, then mention you are an author.

Key Takeaway – Finding Your Audience

Often, bestselling independent authors are a member of the group for which they are writing. If you are not, research ways to discover their interests and reach out by joining and taking part in their communities.


Savvy Shoppers

In the book business, determining where your target audience shops and how to get your books into those places is called developing a distribution strategy.

While every author wants to walk into their local bookstore and see their books prominently displayed on the shelves, there is much more to consider when developing your distribution strategy. Some authors leverage their professional connections to make sales – i.e. book as a business card. Others teach classes and sell their books to students and/or attendees. Still others sell their books through their churches or they partner with websites.

There are innumerable ways to distribute your book and it takes some trial and error to find the right distribution channels. Since every book is different, we wanted to see if there was a pattern as to where authors sold their books.

We asked 4000 of Lulu’s best-selling authors where they sold their books. Here’s what they had to say:

Marketing Series 3 Where to sell your books

Distribution channels for authors, both traditionally published and self-published, are changing. With the closing of large brick-and-mortar booksellers, all publishers are reevaluating their distribution strategy. In August 2013, Bowker released a study citing a 5% increase in online book sales in the U.S., up to 44% of total book sales compared to 39% in 2011.

What does this mean for you? As an author, you must focus on your audience and develop the best distribution strategy for them. If you are communicating with your audience through your existing channels or through online networks and communities, Lulu.com’s marketplace can be a strong component of your distribution strategy. If you need to target a broader audience that seeks content all over the Internet and online stores, expand to additional retail distribution channels.

Getting Your Book Noticed

E-book Formatting Fairies did a survey of readers in August 2013 that revealed fantastic insights into how readers perceive books and authors. We’ve compiled a few highlights of their findings below:

  • 95% of respondents were more likely to buy a self-published book from an author who is known to them.
  • When asked where readers get information about new books, Facebook came in first place.
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  • When readers were asked where they get information about their favorite authors, Facebook and author websites were virtually tied.  These findings reinforce the need for author’s to create and maintain author platforms that incorporate both social media and author websites.
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What Should You Do?

Ask your readers or people in your target market how they discover new books and where they shop for them. The answers to those two questions are the key elements in developing your distribution strategy.

Key Takeaway – You, Online

Create an online presence from which potential readers can learn more about you and your book.

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