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What I know about book marketing that you don’t…

Hi there! My name is Derek Murphy. I’ve been working with authors for almost 10 years. At first I was a book editor; I helped them improve their stories. Then I was a book designer; I helped them produce beautiful books and get published. As my platform grew, many authors began to ask me about book marketing and promotion – I’ve been self-published since 2004 and have a number of bestsellers (in fact if you put “Book Marketing” into Amazon, I’ll probably be the first result).

I was happy to share tips and strategies and teach people how to market their books, but I learned after several years that it wasn’t enough. I told authors they need to have a blog, and it needed to be clean, fast, functional – and that the book cover should be the most beautiful thing on their website. I told them they needed to write articles that appealed to their target readers, to get ongoing, natural traffic which would convert to book sales, and guest posts on more established blogs for increased traffic and pagerank.

And of course those are the easy things – they also need to show up in Google, above tens of thousands of other websites, so they would probably need some SEO, a backlinking strategy, and some clever marketing tricks. Then there’s the actual book stuff – optimized your keywords and categories on Amazon, improving the style of your book summary, getting reviews and downloads, hitting #1 in your chosen subcategory. And let’s not forget social media: it’s also really important to be building relationships online, actively seeking out new followers and engaging them, and posting content they enjoy that gets liked and shared.

Here’s what I found out

Most authors hate all that stuff. It’s overwhelming. It’s time consuming. It’s difficult and frustrating. So they avoid it… for years. They might throw up a makeshift website, but it’s ugly and has no content. Nobody ever finds it unless they have a direct link to follow. But they don’t want to spend time on social media chatting with people. They don’t know what to write about on their blog. They don’t know how to price or position their book on Amazon for growth and platform building, or how to bring people back to their website to sign up to their email list. So they waste months and months fretting about it, but basically doing nothing.

In the past I cautioned against hiring other people to do book marketing or publicity, because I think it’s almost always better to it yourself (to build personal relationships). But I was comparing doing it yourself to hiring someone else. Doing it yourself is better: if you actually learn how to do everything, and do it right. I should have been comparing hiring someone else to not doing it at all, or doing it poorly.

Because those are the options I see most authors ending up with.

It needs to be done

You need a beautiful, professional author website that turns readers into fans, sells books and builds your platform – so that each book you launch will become a bestseller overnight. You need interesting or entertaining content that works for you, while you sleep, attracting new readers.

You need to be posting on social media to bring in even more traffic and connect with fans. Sure you might be successful without it. But you will certainly be more successful if you do it. Book marketing is like exercise or diet: nobody likes it and the best person to do it is you – but it works. Can you be healthy and lose weight without management and maintenance? Possibly… but it’s unlikely, and it’s probably unhealthy in the long term.

But it won’t help everyone

Although I’ve been avoiding book marketing services, the truth is it’s a very valuable and necessary service, that can help some books do extraordinarily well. But not all books. Some books are poorly designed, or poorly written, or don’t have a big enough target readership. In other words, marketing is not the problem, and more marketing isn’t going to help.

That’s why, although I had wanted to offer marketing services, I’m not currently doing so: instead of focusing my efforts on writing and publishing a lot of mainstream, popular fiction and non-fiction, using the marketing hacks I’ve learned to make them bestsellers and earn lots of money, and building up resources and tutorials on this site to help you do the same.

You can find out more about me on my main blog: www.creativindie.com, or my site for fiction writing: www.urbanepics.com. I also have lots of sites for book design templates, book editing and some other things.