Marketing is simpler than we think it is. We tend to ascribe it the feelings of annoying someone, getting rejected, and feeling vulnerable. Or we picture the sleazy car salesman who pretends to care about you long enough to lock you into a sale.
Neither are actually what marketing is about.
Marketing is about taking people who want a certain thing and connecting them to that thing they want.
Are you having trouble selling your book? Think about readers for a moment.
It's not that they don't want to read/buy your book. It's not that they've been hounded relentlessly about buying that they shun it. It's not that you're annoying them. It's that they don't know about you/your book. It's that you're not the right genre for them.
If they really want a book, they'll buy it. If they really like a book, they'll sell it for you.
For example, I like to bake desserts. Often, I'd take them to work because it's too much sugar for just me.
I'm a shy person, so the first time I brought cookies to work, I didn't want to impose my cookies on people. I told a few closer coworkers and left the cookies out where others would know they were accessible. This was my "Marketing Plan."
A few people tried the cookies to be nice to me, preparing the polite "it's good" speech, but when they discovered that the desserts were better than they expected, they went and told other coworkers.
The cookies disappeared pretty quickly when word worked its way around.
I continue to bring desserts and they've reached notoriety within my place of work (for deliciousness, addictive-ness and because usually someone is dieting that week).
When I'm introduced to new people at work, it's as a baker. When I bring any dessert, I hardly ever have any leftover because ...
1. People know my desserts. They like my desserts.
2. They tell everyone else that I brought desserts that day.
3. The new people try the desserts and are converted.
Let's bring this back around to book marketing.
How do you react when you really love a book? Lend it to a friend? Tweet about it? Tell random people about the plotline and bring it up in random conversations.
Here's the thing. When something is good, it speaks for itself. And then everyone who loves it speaks for it also which builds momentum and brings new people into your sphere.
Breaking down the cookie example, here's what this looks like:
1. Build a Brand
A sustainable, recognizable, irresistible brand (or genre). Keep making Quality books (or blog posts, podcast episodes, videos) around that brand that illustrates your core message and invite people in. Products that they didn't know they needed/wanted, but know that you've filled that hole in their life, they can't wait to tell everyone they know about you.
2. Encourage Sharing
Make it really easy for people to share your content and broadcast its existence. Create links to social media for sharing. Do book giveaways. Offer bonus content as a Reader Magnet. Ask people to mention you in social media posts about your book and then respond to them. Offer a free, signed copy to people.
3. Do Outreach
You want to spread your message as far and wide as you can within your niche. Offer your book to influencers for free. Search for ways you can improve their lives or ways you can do joint promotions that help you both like Anthologies. Talk to your peers, get to know them, and become friends so that you can grow together. Get in front of as many new people as you can, so they can try your product for themselves, decide if it's right for them, and stick around if it is.
This is a great place for any author to start. And I know this works, because I've done "Cookie Marketing" in several new environments, and it never fails ;)
Stay tuned for articles diving deeper into each of these steps.