If you’re an author (self-published or traditionally published), it helps a lot to understand how marketing works. At first, it may seem like a lot—it took me years to change my focus from writing / content creation to having a holistic view of publishing.
Of course, you want to write the best book possible. That involves taking the time to write a draft, getting early feedback, working with an editor, and polishing. But what happens next is just as important. It’s hard to get any sales if no one knows your book exists.
Book Sales Funnel
That’s why you should set up sales funnels for your books. The gist is you want to guide your readers to your book, by taking them through a series of steps. Your Writer Platform has an excellent article that goes into detail about book sales funnels, and the gist is:
- Have something to offer readers for free (like a chapter of your book, or the first book in a series)
- Get readers to sign up for you email list
- Send readers valuable information in addition to your freebie, via a series of emails
Another option is to create a sales page on your website for your book, as Nonfiction Authors Association suggests, if you’re comfortable selling directly to readers. Then you can guide readers to your page, get them excited to buy your book with reviews or testimonials, and off them bonus things to buy, such as an audio version of the book. You can also offer pre-sale items, such as a limited number of autographed copies of your book.
Once you have a book to either offer as a freebie or to sell, you’ll want to set up your email list. Popular options include Mailchimp (free for up to 2,000 subscribers), ConvertKit (which I use and has a lot of ways to tag and automate), and AWeber (also has a tagging options).
When a reader signs up to your email list, you can then tag them based on how they became a subscriber. For example, you can give them a tag if they signed up for your freebie via your website. Then you’ll have an idea of what people with those tags are interested in, and you can send them a value-added email. This could be an email that solves a problem, which works well for non-fiction authors, or an email that is entertainment-based, which works well for fiction authors. After, you can send the readers who have been reading your emails so far another email offering something special, such as a discount on one of your other books.
You’ll know these readers are interested in your books and your work, so you can also tell them every time you launch a new book or are working on a new project.
Driving Readers To Your Email List
Last, you’ll want to entice readers to go to your website and sign up for your email list. There are a myriad of ways to do this, but for this post I’m going to only focus on content marketing.
Content marketing is about creating content, such as blog posts, videos, social media, etc., to get people interested in your brand and your books.
The first thing you’ll want to do is set up your goals, so you can figure out what works well. Content Marketing Institute has a great guide on metrics which looks at content marketing from a business perspective, and it also works for authors. One goal you can track is the number of subscribers on your email list (and take advantage of Google Analytics to track what content is popular and leads to email subscribers.)
Now that you have your goal, you can start writing blog posts or creating videos to share with people and hopefully get them to your opt-in page. You may also want to consider guest blogging, and collaborating with other authors who write in your genre.
For a few more handy resources on content marketing, check out:
- “Is Proving Content Marketing ROI an Impossible Dream?” on CMI
- “How to Set Content Marketing Goals That Matter to Business Leaders” on CMI
They are geared toward organizations, but offer a lot of information that could work for authors.
Have any tips for creating book funnels or growing your email list? Share them below!
Editor’s note: Originally published in April 2021.