A few weeks ago Ben DeHaven stopped by to talk about his book, Confessions of a Self-Help Writer. Today he's back to share his views on book marketing.
Ben has tried a few things, from YouTube videos and generously giving away advance copies, to a release party at the Hustler Club in Las Vegas. Read on to find out what works for him, and what definitely doesn't.
KB: A lot of authors think marketing starts with cover design. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
BD: The book cover is essential in selection. I wanted two separate covers for Confessions of a Self-Help Writer, because I thought it would be interesting to try and I’ve also had multiple reviews that started with, “I picked this book up because of the cover I thought it was a story about….”
The funny thing is that most the purchases based purely on the cover resulted in negative reviews. I guess the take away is you need a cover that speaks about the work inside, but if the cover is better than the writing, maybe we should be designing posters!
KB: What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
BD: 80%. In typical sales roles you need to understand the 80/20 rule. 80% of your sales come from 20% of the market. So adjust accordingly. I try to separate writing time from selling time-but writing is now a function of a greater goal. That goal is to get your product seen and sold. You could be the greatest doctor in the world, but you don’t just step out of medical school and say, “Ok-I’m ready to be rich and have all the people come to the office.”
KB: Do you have any amusing or enlightening stories about marketing your books?
BD: Because of the nature of this book and the real people involved we had a release party at the Hustler Club in Las Vegas during the ALA this year. This was a crazy time because we had an ALA nomination and a ton of great librarians showed up for the party and really cut loose. We got some amazing press for the party and even had a friend, “Whiskey Time” lend us a car to do some promo pictures. I backed his 62 and a half Lincoln continental into the side of the club. It’s a good thing he’s a great guy, because he’s the president of a motorcycle club and we might have had some material to write a murder mystery if we weren’t careful.
If you don’t mind some minor, less than classy pictures:
Hustler Release Party Pics: https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#AMJtdOXmJpNb3p
KB: What’s your view on social media for marketing?
BD: Social media is dead and no one understands it.
If only there were a magic ball to create content buzz. Or bullshit buzz for that matter. Or even a human being that claims to know what that means, accepts cash--then does not take a dump in their hand like a monkey and inspect it while annoying all of your friends with it.
My view is that it is the most important part of any marketing strategy for a small author. My guess is without a government bailout, the traditional big 5 publishers are going to die a death that seemingly comes from nowhere and takes them instantly.
If you can master this, or even want to learn it, my next venture is in PR for authors. I believe I can do as much PR for 25% of what others are charging and get 10 times the results. Yes that’s a sales pitch-Social media is like anything else in life though-It takes a lot of work! Just like the thesis of Confessions of a Self-Help Writer—you are not going to be saved, lose weight, or market your book in one 30 minute webinar. But people will surely take your money to tell you that.
KB: Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
BD: There are and I would be glad to share it for a small fee, but I’m not 100% I can explain it. The most immediate impact came from internet marketing, which 6 months ago I knew nothing about, but I would advise you to learn everything you can about Ad Words, Cross Promotion, Analytics, Hoot Suite, and driving content. If you are true to yourself, the marketing will come naturally.
KB: Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
BD: If I knew even half of what I did now, I would have backed the publication off at least a year and spent the entire year building a social media presence and doing a complete assessment about where my book fits into the market, what the market looks like, and how much of the market I need to capture. I keep imagining a huge snowball rolling down a cartoon mountain. Once you “let go” it will chase you all the way down. I wish I would of paid a little more attention to what I “packed” in there, because it’s starting to look yellow.
The only mistake was letting the publisher convince me I could sell the book as humor and fiction. If you are a first time author I have bad news for you--you have to write something that fits into one category. Book stores, want products that fit into a neat little package.
The only other mistake I could mention is—if you have to explain it, you have already failed. I think that was a marketing mistake on Confessions of a Self-Help Writer. It’s great that people picked it up to review it, but if they did it because they read a press release about the backstory, then they were just looking for scandal, not a story. Almost everyone who has read the book, without knowing anything about the facts has seemed to really enjoy it as a theoretical work of fiction.
KB: Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your book?
BD: There’s not really a trailer yet (although I have given away some personal money trying to get one produced). There are a bunch of Youtube videos supporting the background of the book and newspaper though:
KB: Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
BD: I think it helps create awareness and can help you get into distribution channels, but if on your first title, I don’t think it helps overall sales. We did an ALA white box mailing which was something ridiculous like 700 Galleys, and I have walked into stores where they received free books and they didn’t even have that available in stock. FYI-if you don’t have a traditional publisher and distribution channel-that’s what you are up against. People Tools-who gave away 8000 copies! Yes 8000.
KB: In what formats is your book available?
BD: Currently the book is available in Hardcover and Digital formats on Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Walmart, the airport, and is available in some pirated paperback editions in China.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Twitter: @ben_dehaven https://twitter.com/ben_dehaven
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Benjamin-DeHaven/e/B00HNEHH34
Amazon Book Pages: http://amzn.to/1z1Vq4F
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BenDeHaven/posts
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