Learn from the Competition
by Mari Selby
When we embrace the attitude in life that we are here to learn, we have an open map to follow. This is also true with promoting our books. How do we decide what path to take when marketing our books? One of the best ways is to research what has worked before. Discover through research on Amazon, at the library, or in your local bookstore what other books have been written that are similar to a book you will be launching.
Since each author and each book is unique, there will always be differences. However, the authors of these similar books can be role models or guides for creating your book’s marketing plan. And they can be allies for developing media coverage and speaking engagements. Be their shadow and follow in their footsteps. Also, learn from their mistakes.
Routes to Coverage
Make a list of four or five experts who talk or write about a topic similar to the topic of your book. Then do some digging online to see where they have received publicity and where they have spoken. If a journalist, blogger, or producer decided to interview them, it’s probably because that media person covers your topic on a somewhat regular basis. Why shouldn’t their next interview be about your book?
Your pitch to the producer can be, “I saw that you interviewed Marcy Jones about her book on holistic divorce. That was a great interview. My book has a different angle—it focuses on the children [or on saving money, or on how men can be better fathers through the divorce].”
When you contact media people, have talking points about your book ready. They really appreciate you doing their homework for them.
Follow the same pattern with speaking engagements. Often a meeting planner who booked a competitor in the past will be interested in you this year, because planners usually can’t have the same speakers back year after year. I know many authors who are happy to network, share expertise, and recommend each other to meeting planners and media they know. Why not put yourself forward today?
When you shadow your competition, you can create a tightly focused list of publicity and speaking opportunities, and you don’t have to reinvent what works for promoting your kind of material. You can find out which interviews, reviews, or other kinds of coverage were beneficial to relevant authors.
Did that review on Amazon receive comments? Was that review in the San Francisco Book Review quoted in other articles, or interviews? Did that interview on George Noory’s Coast to Coast show spark copycat interviews? Did any of the reporters or producers invite an author back for additional interviews?
Try listening to a recorded interview by a competing author. What pointers can you pick up? What can you learn to avoid doing? How can you make interviews that feature your book work better, engage the listeners more?
Paths to Online Promotion
Having competition may mean that your topic already has a following. Find competing authors on Facebook and friend them. Observe what pages they like and what groups they follow. Go to these pages and groups and develop a following for yourself there.
You can also offer to have a “live” discussion on your Fanpage, with each participating author inviting followers. Style it as a debate or as a collegial discussion, and all of you will benefit. Even better, you may create new relationships with allies.
Mari Selby founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher. Before that, she was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years. Selby ink provides publicity and promotional services from book shepherding, to traditional book tours, to viral campaigns. To learn more or have a free consultation: selbyink.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.