How to Get Published and Skip Book Marketing
Getting a book published is a big job, but the biggest part of it isn’t the writing or even the publishing; it’s the book marketing. For many authors, book marketing is a chore and a drag. And scary! Put myself out there on social media? No way! A virtual blog tour? Have a Facebook book page? Express an opinion on LinkedIn? Tweet on Twitter? Participate in an online chat? You gotta be kidding!
And then there’s the inevitable question once they do publish: “So, how’s the book doing?” It’s enough to make an author say forgetaboutit and put their almost-finished book back in a drawer, never to see the light of day.
Nobody Has to be a Best Seller
But book marketing is a fact of the writing life, right? It’s an absolute necessity, right? There’s no way around it so you might as well face it like a grown-up, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, book marketing is a must if the main reason you are publishing is to make money or make a name for yourself. But No, if you are writing for other reasons, such as sharing your expertise with colleagues or putting together a book of your poems as a gift to friends. One of the beauties of self-publishing in today’s digital world is that you can pick any reason you want to publish a book, and knowing that reason will help you take the pressure off of yourself to “do” book marketing” or hire a publicist to do it for you — when marketing, for your particular book, isn’t what you want or need.
I call this approach “Writing for your Inner Circle.” This idea opens up a whole new world for wanna-be authors who were dragging their feet over the daunting task of marketing. Well, now you can get a book written and published and up for sale on Amazon or Kindle, or any of the other online booksellers, and never do a lick of marketing. You can write just for your “Inner Circle” and let it go at that.
What Does Writing for Your “Inner Circle” Mean?
Your inner circle consists of the people you deal with every day, not the “world at large” or the “general public” or “book-buyers,” but your personal world — friends and family, work colleagues, business associates, your clients, your patients, your neighbors, your local community — and your inner self.
Your inner circle may consist of a handful of people you can shoot off an email to and say, “”Hey, I just put my book up on Amazon. Here’s the link” — or it can be much larger. As a psychotherapist, one of my inner circles is pretty large — it’s my tribe of 750,000 fellow mental health professionals. If I write about my specialty, some of my colleagues may find my book because that specialty interests them. If they do an Internet search for information on that specialty, they may stumble across my title. Potential book-buyers are trolling the Internet constantly looking for data about things that interest them or information they need professionally.
10 Examples of Marketing-Free “Inner Circle” Books
- A woman wrote a book on cooking tofu. Initially, she had it printed at Kinko’s and spiral bound to give to friends and family. It was a hit with them, they told others, they wanted copies — so to keep from going broke, she published it on Amazon, and people could buy it. Also, anyone doing a Google search for tofu recipes could discover her book. No “marketing” involved.
- A psychotherapist who had recovered from bi-polar disorder, and now specializing in bi-polar in his private practice, wrote a memoir about his illness and recovery which he sells when he is asked to give talks as a bi-polar disorder expert. He also gives books to clients and family members. His goal was not to make money with the book but to gain credibility as a specialist, which brought more referrals. No book marketing was involved.
- A collector of dolls from around the world put together a book about the dolls and their histories going back 100 years. Internet searches on dolls (there are many doll collectors as well as history buffs) may come across her book by accident. No book marketing involved.
- A member of a big family put together a book of family research, interviews, and photos, and published it on Amazon. She sent out an announcement to family members telling them about the book. Those who wanted to buy it did. In a way, her announcement was “marketing,” but traditional marketing wouldn’t have done much good for this kind of book. However, family members loved it.
- An ex cop-turned-fiction-writer wrote a book of short stories about cops and self-published it. While he emailed some of his former cop buddies, he made additional sales because some people love cop fiction and do Internet searches to find new works — and his book pops up. No real marketing involved.
- Many professions (mental health, law, show business, music, medicine, science, etc.) are divided up into many sub-specialties, any one of which could make a book. While traditional marketing is best for such books, some will simply “sell themselves” when people do Internet searches on specific topics.
- Photos: A young girl of 12, who has a dream of becoming a National Geographic photographer, is putting together a book of her best (to date) nature photos and plans to put it on Amazon as a sample of her skills. The pictures are good. She may not sell beyond friends and family, but the fact that she is already an Instagram addict may be a way for her to painlessly market her work further. But her goal is to begin to see herself as a professional-in-training and encourage others her age to do the same.
- Family recipes, unlike the tofu cookbook above, can be very broad. Chances are that most Internet searches won’t be for “family recipes” but if they are Hungarian (or whatever) family recipes, that might result in some sales with no marketing involved.
- Asian Children’s Stories: An Asian woman who now lives in the US wrote a book for her daughter, a collection of the children’s stories she grew up with. At the time she published it, she said she couldn’t find any other Asian stories for kids. Someone now searching, as she did, for “stories from Asia” or “Asian children’s stories” just might find her book.
- How-To books: Maybe you know how to do something better than the next person. The late self-publishing guru, Dan Poynter, wrote about hang-gliding when there were no other books out there on the subject, and it was successful. Write about how to do what you do. If there’s little else on that topic, you could sell well with no marketing.
The Key to Avoiding Book Marketing is Having Good Keywords
A secret to having your non-marketed book “discovered” via an Internet search is to use good keywords when you upload your book to Amazon or Kindle or IngramSpark. There are numerous articles online about how to select these keywords. For authors who decide not to market, it’s especially important to study the keyword advice.
So don’t hold off on getting your book published because you are nervous about the marketing. If you are clear about your personal publishing goals, which may not be the same as the author next door, then you can relax — the pressure is off–and ironically you might even sell some books anyhow without meaning to, even while you sleep. Sweet dreams.
Copyright (2016) Sylvia Cary, LMFT, “Writing for Your Inner Circle”