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Some Parting Advice

Fauzia Burke Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

From my many years of promoting books online, the one thing I know for sure is that each book has its own sales trajectory. Some start selling right out of the gate and reach great heights, while others take the scenic route and sell steadily for years. And yes, there are some books that don’t sell well at all. With the same marketing efforts, some books resonate with buyers better and more rapidly than others. Why is that?

As much as I would love to say, “I know the answer,” it’s just not possible to know. We have worked on many books that turned into huge bestsellers, and on many more that we wished would have sold better. What I do know for sure is that as publicists, we work with diligence and commitment. We believe in the books we promote. We are creative and flexible. We follow up religiously, and then we hope for a little magic.

When books don’t sell as well as we had hoped, it is disappointing for everyone, not just their authors. The effectiveness of your online marketing efforts should not be judged by book sales alone. Through TV you can reach millions of people with one segment; this type of publicity is not possible online. Online exposure is diffused. You may get millions of hits, but they will be staggered. People will more likely come from different sites and see the information at different times, on different days, in different months or even years. When you think of online exposure, think longevity and message control.

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Introduction

Fauzia Burke Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In my twenty years of promoting books online, I have worked with bestselling authors, celebrity authors, longtime authors, first-time authors, and some self-published authors. While the challenges may differ from book to book, all authors have a similar concern: how to spend their time effectively promoting their book and expanding their brands online while writing the best book possible. Whether you’re writing your first book or you write three books a year, you are probably very busy and you must make every minute count.Together, we will figure out the best use of your time and the best way to engage with your specific readers. I hope to make the marketing process meaningful and fun for you. I am not going to tell you that if you follow my advice, your book will be #1 on Amazon (that would be a great sales pitch, though), but what I can tell you is that if you follow my advice, you will create meaningful interactions with your readers and build a long-term, successful personal brand online. Having visibility online is not just about selling a book, it’s about building a career.

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14 Monitor and Adjust

Fauzia Burke Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
John F. Kennedy

Like many things in life, planning is key for an effective strategy. View your online presence just as you already view important relationships—you have to check in, touch base, and give updates to keep your relationships going. So you don’t just want to pop up randomly in the social media world and then disappear or go silent for a few months. To build your following you have to stay the course.

Monitor the data from your website, newsletter, and social networking, and adjust as you go. I am often asked what I know for sure in the book publishing, book marketing, and digital marketing industry. While there isn’t one magic formula for every author and every book, there are some specific steps you can take to carve out your niche, build your brand, and create a community. Let’s review them:

The age of the generalist is over. Find your niche, hone your skills, develop your audience, and be brilliant. Be a specialist. It’s better to have deep knowledge of a narrow topic than to have shallow knowledge of a great many topics. It is easier to build a brand if you define your expertise and become the master of that niche. Maybe your audience will not be huge, but every person who needs that information will look to you first.

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13 Promote Without Being Promotional

Fauzia Burke Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Heroes must see to their own fame. No one else will.
Gore Vidal

How people perceive you online can be very important in your branding. In your social networks, it’s important to be likable and avoid rubbing people the wrong way. Someone once told me that there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence. I immediately thought: That’s not true. There’s a huge difference. I feel some people exemplify the difference perfectly. Malala Yousafzai is confident enough to talk with world leaders and ask them to change their policies. Yet she never seems arrogant.

Why is this important? It’s an important distinction because we like working with confident people, but we don’t like engaging with arrogant people. A UCLA study concluded that likable people ask questions, are genuine and honest, don’t seek attention, and smile (among other things). These are easy things to do online and will go over better than being clever and snarky.

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10 To Blog or Not to Blog

Fauzia Burke Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
Ernest Hemingway

Developing a personal brand online is crucial to your success as an author, and blogging is a critical element of that plan. I know it’s not always easy to find the time, and sometimes it seems so irrelevant compared to your other priorities. Almost every one of my clients moans when I mention blogging. Usually they have just finished writing the book and the last thing they want to do is to write more. Some of my clients are CEOs of large companies, and others are masters of the universe in their fields, and I am almost embarrassed to ask them to take time out of their busy days to blog. One of my favorite responses came from a client who is a neurosurgeon. When we started talking about blogging, he started to laugh and then asked if he should save someone’s life or write a blog. It’s all relative, isn’t it? Thankfully, our doctor loved to write and found it relaxing.

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