As a writer, you know all too well how much work is required to complete an entire book. Once you have finished your book, you may be tempted to think that the hardest part is behind you. As many authors discover, however, the book marketing process is arduous and requires a skill set very different from the creative energy that produced your book in the first place. In particular, online book marketing demands targeted and thorough research if you want your book to have a fighting chance against the countless other titles flooding the market. Here is your guide to researching and executing your online marketing strategy.
Know Your Audience
The single most important aspect of your marketing research involves getting to know your target audience. You probably already have some idea of who your audience is; the next step is determining where your audience is on the web. As a starting point, you can check sales data from big online vendors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The key here is to look for similar titles and determine general interest level in a book like yours. You can also do much more targeted research based on the topic of your book. Are your target readers part of an online community like Reddit, YouTube, or Yahoo? Are there any major blogs that your readers are most likely to follow? If you understand how your audience interacts on the web, you will begin to assemble a plan for how and where to market your book.
Learn Your Audience’s Buying Habits
Once you know where your target audience is, research those sites extensively. There are several major goals of this research stage. First, look for evidence about other books and products that your target audience is already buying. Do readers buy books that are featured on specific sites? Are there industry leaders who act as influencers for your target audience? Second, identify any opportunities to use these sites as marketing vehicles. Which sites permit direct marketing? Which sites publish book or product reviews? Do any sites allow marketing plug-ins for authors to directly list their books for sale?
Connect with Your Audience
If possible, you should start connecting with your audience well before you actually publish your book. Establishing a reputation before publication will facilitate your entry into the online marketplace. Become a visible community member on the sites where your target audience is most active, and consider guest blogging for some of the most visible sites in your field. Even better, start your own blog, and look for creative ways to direct traffic to the site. The same is true for social media—creating a base of loyal followers will pay dividends when you can mobilize these followers around a promotion for your book. Reach out to industry leaders and influencers, and request that they review or feature your book on their sites. If they agree to feature your book, make sure that the content links back to a platform where buyers can purchase the book directly.
Online book marketing requires consistent, patient planning and research. The most important piece of advice is that you should not wait to start your online market research until after you have written your book. Let your market research help guide the way you structure the book, and let your online reputation precede you. Taking these steps in advance will make your marketing much more seamless.
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