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Overcoming Pitfalls in Self-Publishing

Becoming Recognizable to Your Target Audience
by Jef Bartow

I have mentioned before that roughly 20% of your time and efforts is in creating your book while 80% of your efforts will be in promoting your book.  This 80/20 rule may be exaggerated in this case, but the important thing to remember is that you must make at least as much effort after your book is published than before. If you have been following my previous articles, then you're in a good position to minimize this effort while maximizing the success of your ongoing efforts.

If you've done your research, you now know where your target audience goes to find books like yours. Hopefully you also know how they evaluate and determine which books to buy, yours or your competitors. One successful book marketeer and now consultant focuses on helping you become an "expert" regarding the topic or content of your book. The principle here is that the more you stand out versus competitive authors, the more likely your audience is going to buy your book. The other key principle in getting your audience to buy your book is to make sure you use "multiple touches" marketing to emphasize the key selling points of your book.

Lets begin with the "multiple touches" marketing approach. Both your cover design and copy and book reviews include key benefits or advantages in buying your book. This should be the basis of the copy content of your advertising and all other multiple touches over a period of time. A golden rule here is that the more you can be referencing others, the less you'll seem like a typical used-car salesman: mostly baloney and little meat. 

Besides referencing your book review editors or magazine reviews, etc., think about the recognizable names within your book genre and try to get some reference quotes from them. For example, I sent a review copy of my first book out to 45 (still living) of the myriad of experts I quoted in my book. I specifically thanked them for their work and asked them for their impressions and feedback based on review of my book (not necessarily having read the book). If you have enough time available, you could also do a series of follow-ups that can help reinforce your sincere desire for feedback. In my case, I received a note or letter back from 15% of those I sent the book to.

Now hopefully armed with some very juicy quotes, plan out and execute an advertising campaign and even media campaign that can keep bringing you up with new and fresh reasons why everyone should buy your book. Besides this good way of getting your name and selling points of your book out, this is the beginning of also fulfilling the key principle of making you stand out to others in your genre. So, next compile all the publications that your target audience tends to read, if you have not done it already for book reviews. Then not only review them for advertising opportunities, but submission of a book excerpt or article to further get your name in front of your audience.  And remember, as it was with book reviews in publications, this will also require "multiple touches" and much failure until you break through.

Within the spirituality genre, it is easy to see how every book written by Eckhart Tolle, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Ken Wilber, etc. are being continually highlighted within magazines. What's required here is a lot of persistence and ingenuity. Unfortunately, many of the publications within the spirituality genre will not accept article submissions unless solicited. So, make sure you do your homework and target only those that do accept article submissions.

There are various other avenues to market yourself and your books to bookstores or directly to your target audience. These include Expos, trade shows, conferences, meetings and book shows. The time and effort to do this on your own can be daunting and risky. For myself, I spent two years targeting all of the above including developing an exhibit booth for events. I became a featured speaker at two Expos, one national conference and a regional seminar. My book was involved in multiple book shows. I found the book shows to be a total failure. My greatest success was specific national conferences and seminars where I was featured. I sold more books at a two-day conference than I did in 3 to 4 months through my distributor.

Images on this page provided by Two Moon Artistry

I will also mention a typical way that most authors take their books out; that is through book signings and book tours. If your target audience includes those who buy your kind of book at independent bookstores or the chain bookstores you decided to get your book into, then this marketing technique can be successful. But be ready to talk about your book to one or two people at a time and learn how to make conversation easily. 

If your target is metaphysical bookstores, then you may want to skip this time-consuming and expensive technique. Only the highest recognizable names are sought after by many metaphysical bookstores. For the rest of us, they don't do book signings and lectures or you can rent a part of their facility with little involvement by the bookstore itself. I found this out through attempted book tours in various states.

Once you have your published book in hand, you really need to become a salesperson.  You will be selling both yourself and your book for an extended period of time in order to realize your potential success.  Getting to your target audience with persistent multiple touches will ensure that your book gets the exposure it needs and deserves.  And even if your first book is not highly successful, you will have laid the foundation for your next book to do even better.