You often hear that the real work only starts once you’ve written and published your book: the real work is in marketing. Marketing a book is a daunting prospect for most authors—but it doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. At least, this is according to Roseanne Cheng. In fact, Cheng says it is both important and possible to build a long-term approach to marketing a book.
Roseanne is the author of five books, including two award-winning fiction books for younger readers. This former high school teacher became a marketing expert and is a co-founder of Evergreen Authors, where they help authors market and sell their books. Her own most recent book is The Evergreen Author: Master the Art of Book Marketing.
She was a guest on The Empowered Author podcast. You can listen to the conversation by clicking below and read on for the gist of the chat.
Roseanne Cheng’s approach to book marketing is almost revolutionary, considering the marketing advice authors usually get about selling their books. She believes that instead of trying to do everything in terms of marketing a book, instead you need to focus on doing what you enjoy. If you don’t like to market your book on Facebook, don’t do it. There are many other ways to get the word about you and your work out there, so you might as well choose the things that bring you joy: you’ll have more success that way.
Marketing A Book Over the Long-Haul
It all comes down to sustainability. What can we do to build a long-term approach to marketing a book? Cheng’s first two fiction books came out when she had two young babies. She was visiting and speaking at many schools as part of her marketing strategy, she was selling lots of books, and launching her career as an author. However, after only a year, which isn’t a long time in the world of nurturing a book’s presence in the world, she felt burnt out. She realized that even though she loved what she was doing, with all the other responsibilities in her life, this approach wasn’t sustainable in the long term.
Two Main Phases of Book Marketing
There are two main phases of marketing your book:
- Launch. At first, there is the period of intense marketing and selling. This takes place over a short period of time and takes a lot of energy.
- Sustaining. When the initial frenzy dies down, there is the period of less intense long-term marketing and creating.
As an author, don’t necessarily have to devote all your time and energy to both phases.
Get Honest About Your Goals
The secret is in being honest about what your goals are. If writing your book has taken everything out of you and you have no desire to write another one—for instance if you’ve written a memoir and the process was emotionally very difficult for you—you may not want to spend much of your life marketing the book. The same may be true if you’ve only written your book to serve as a more elaborate business card. In either of these cases, you may decide to pursue only the first phase of book marketing: devoting your time and energy to it only for a few months and then letting it sit on Amazon, picking up the occasional sale.
If, however, you would like to continue writing and selling books, you’ll need to find ways to make the second phase of book marketing more sustainable. This starts with an honest conversation, first with yourself and then with whomever you share finances. Once you’re honest about your goals, you can then look at how to meet those goals in the long run and how much time you can—or are willing to— commit to them. You’ll have a clearer idea of whether it’s truly worth it for you to take time off work to attend a book conference or whether you should spend time and money or Instagram ads or whatever the hot marketing activity of the day is.
What You Choose is Up To You
This will help you focus on those activities that you can honestly commit to doing. What you choose to do is completely up to you: every author’s situation is unique and what works for another author may not necessarily work for you. If, for example, you work full-time and have young children at home, you may decide that you can only commit to writing a blog post every two months. Roseanne says that you then need to make sure that you write those posts with passion and that they’re amazing. You then crosspost them everywhere and that’s enough.
For an author who has the time and money to write full-time, however, the strategy will be completely different. The point is that you choose the activities that you can commit to, enjoy and can do for the long term, and then to do them well. You don’t need to be anywhere and everywhere.
The Data Caveat
There is a caveat to the idea of focusing your time and energy on those marketing activities that you enjoy. You need to be, as Roseanne calls it, “a scientist of your data”: you need to get smart about what’s actually selling books for you. It’s all great to devote your time to Facebook groups or to blogging, but if it’s not actually helping you sell books, or helping you achieve whatever you said your goal was (remember when you got honest about them?) you’re really just wasting your time.
So, you need to look at what works for other authors too. However, you need to look deeper than just, “That author is selling a ton of books on Pinterest.” You need to look at the analytics: why does Pinterest work for them and their book? Is it because there’s an overlap between the average Pinterest user and their target reader? Does the same overlap apply to your book and your target reader? If not, Pinterest might not work in the same way for you.
Finally, Roseanne says that key to having a sustainable marketing strategy is to create a book you’re proud of. None of your work will be joyful or sustainable if you don’t have a book that you love and that you will love for the long term.
Want to Learn More Evergreen Author Strategies?
Roseanne Cheng and her partner Josie Robinson have lots to offer authors looking to up their book marketing game for the long term. Check out these offerings:
Evergreen Authors Academy marketing masterclass
Evergreen Authors Book Launch Blueprint
Evergreen Authors Amazing Author Platform
Full disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. If you enrol in any of their programs after clicking one of those links, we’ll receive a small incentive.