The Indie Writer’s Marketing Guide for Authors Who Hate Marketing
How to sell more books without being sleazy, deceitful, or pushy
I’m and indie. You’re an indie. We all want to sell more of our stuff, but we’ve got this little voice in the back of our heads saying, “Hey, leave the sales pitch for the other guys. We’ve got integrity. We let our work speak for us.”
I get it. I’ve heard the same voice.
But what if I told you there was a way to market your work without marketing and to sell your work without selling? Would you be interested? There is. And whether you like it or not, I’ll show you a way to sell a lot more books (and other products) without feeling like Hank from Hank’s House of Used Cars, on late night television.
As indies we’ve got to tell readers about our work or it won’t sell.
There’s no way around the marketing. We can’t push books into an empty room and shout, “I’m here!” Our readers have more choices than ever and the number of readers isn’t growing compared to their number of reading options.
How do we sell without selling and market without marketing?
The answer is easier than you think. It takes a ton of work up-front, but there’s a way to sell your books mostly on autopilot, giving you more time to write, while not feeling sleazy about your sales efforts.
Ready? Let’s do this.
What is marketing?
Marketing is the systematic process where a seller of goods or services aligns themselves with a potential buyer interested in said goods or services. That’s it. There are a thousand ways to arrange this alignment.
You can push your message — interrupting your audience — like television and Facebook ads.
Or you can use pull marketing, which is the model I prefer. This is the better model for writer. With pull marketing you draw your audience towards you. You bring them under your wing by providing them interesting content and valuable information.
Indie writers can become masters at pull marketing.
We’ve got the writing skills other marketers struggle with. While they may be more adept at the marketing systems and back-end, we’ve got no worries when it comes to the words part.
As indie authors we’d rather spend more time writing and less time pushing our work. We know it needs to be done, but it’s not our favorite thing on the list. We may even put off that nasty marketing stuff until we’ve waited too long.
We’ll get you on a better path. It’s time to start marketing before you finish the next book.
What is selling?
Selling is even simpler than marketing. Selling is the process where the owner of goods or services presents an offer to an interested party and asks the person if they’d like to buy said good or service.
You can make selling as smooth or ugly as you wish.
In the end, the sales process is the act of asking for the sale. As indies, we’ll do all the enticing legwork up-front. Once we get to the sales part your ‘ask’ will be little more than “here, I wrote this. maybe you’ll like it too.”
We’ll get your automated marketing process dialed-in, so you don’t have to beg your readers to buy your books. They’ll be excited to buy them.
There are plenty of ways to do selling wrong. One example I see daily is the ‘buy my book’ outbreak. Indies get on social media, ads, and even email — essentially yelling into their readers’ faces, begging them to buy their books. This is NOT how you sell your work.
We want to build a lifetime relationship with our readers, even at the expense of short-term sales.
How to market and sell even if you hate marketing and selling
The answer is email. Email will solve all your indie author marketing and selling problems. You build an automated platform that drips a series of valuable messages, sprinkled with the occasional offer to buy your books. Once you set up your system you spend the bulk of your marketing time bringing new readers onto your email list.
The work is hard. You can’t set up a list today, turn it on tomorrow, and buy your new Lambo on Friday. This is rolled-up-sleeves, late-night, frustrated-as-hell kind of work. But once you set it up, you don’t have to repeat your efforts.
Ready to develop your indie author email platform?
Here’s the nine-part process:
- You develop an Easy Invite (a free, valuable offer in exchange for the reader’s email address). If you wouldn’t pay real cold, hard cash for your EI then it’s not valuable enough. Two free chapters won’t cut it. That stuff only works for the big publishers, because they won’t give anything else.
- You develop a landing page. You don’t even need to waste a bunch of time on a website no one will visit, but you do need a web address (just re-direct the web address to the landing page).
- You develop an automated email welcome sequence. Don’t sell right away. Give valuable content until it hurts, then give a little more. Make each email a two-way street. Ask for interaction. Ask for replies. Ask for clicks to valuable worksheets.
- Email your subscribers at least once a week. Maybe more. Some successful email marketers send emails daily. Once a month is a recipe for failure. When you send monthly, or quarterly emails, you have to beg for the sale, because it’s your only contact with readers.
- Only one action per email. Make each email binary. Don’t include a link to a story here and a buy button down here. Give your reader a single choice per email. Make the decision binary. Do you want this content or not?
- Spend a lot of time on your subject lines. Your subject lines are the headlines of your emails. If you don’t get them opened all the valuable content in the world is useless. Spend as much time choosing a good subject line as you do writing the entire email… maybe more.
- Use the rule of threes. The same technique we use in thriller novels applies to email links. Put your link, or request in your email three times. Pepper the link in the beginning, middle, and end. Most people won’t read the entire email. They’ll skim all the way to the bottom and decide if your message is worth a better look. If you don’t give the skimmers a chance to click, you’ve lost a valuable opportunity.
- Never underestimate the power of the P.S. If a reader opens your email most go straight to the P.S. Everyone reads the P.S. Don’t be cute with this real estate. This could be the only part of your email she reads. Seriously.
- Every email should include something to benefit the reader. Whether you write a short story, you include a how-to tip, or you give a bit of entertaining news about your life, think of each correspondence as a benefit to the reader, not you.
- Give, give, give, ask. This is the Gary Vaynerchuck method. Give free, valuable content as least three times more often than you ask for a sale. You want your free stuff to be so good your reader will think “wow, if the free content is so valuable, just think how good the paid content will be.”
It’s time. We need you to get your books out to more readers.
We’re waiting for you.