5 Steps to Becoming a Stellar Book Marketer
If you love great storytelling, then book marketing could be an exciting realm to step into in your career: you get to work with authors to get their stories, real and fiction, out into the world. Since a lot of the skills that make a good book marketer are transferable, it’s not at all difficult to move from other marketing jobs into the publishing industry.
In this post, we'll share five steps that Reedsy professionals recommend you take to become a prolific freelance book marketer.
1. Familiarize yourself with book marketing on Amazon
Whether you’re completely new to marketing or you’ve already got some experience, you should always get to know Amazon. To be clear, not every author will want to sell their book via Amazon, but as one of the world’s largest booksellers, experimenting with it can still give you plenty of useful knowledge.
According to author and marketer Michael Doane, “learning how book marketing works on Amazon will not only help you understand the largest sales platform for authors, it will also help you understand how readers search for new books.” Some crucial aspects you'll find out more about include:
For more information on these aspects and all things book marketing, we recommend checking out How to Market a Book by Reedsy co-founder Ricardo Fayet. It’s a thorough and concise breakdown of everything you need to know — and it’s free!
Learn by doing
While there’s a lot to take in from online resources, nothing beats learning by doing when it comes to marketing, which is often a matter of trial and error. Metadata specialist Amanda Lee says: “The first and most important thing you should do is create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and investigate the differences between self-publisher metadata options and traditional publisher metadata options. Most things are similar, but nothing is identical!”
And if you’ve always had a book idea in the back of your head, now might be a good time to self-publish and market it. You’ll get hands-on experience that can be used as evidence of your skills and launch your authorial career all at once — hitting two birds with one stone!
2. Understand authors’ needs
A book marketing job can include many different tasks — we mentioned some metadata and advertising tasks on Amazon, but there are plenty of others such as:
- Creating a marketing plan;
- Building an author brand (through a website, social media accounts, etc.);
- Running book promotions.
You may want to focus on just one of these aspects for your freelance business and hone your skills there, though keep in mind that a lot of these things are related — offering an ‘all-in-one’ marketing package may appeal to more authors.
Marketer Joseph Alexander shares: “We often find that clients need to sort out the basics such as covers, blurbs, and product descriptions before we can advise them to spend any money on advertising, otherwise we feel they’d be wasting their resources.” If the cover and description don’t compel readers to buy the book, what’s the point in running ads? Authors coming to you for help might not know all of this yet, which is why it’s your job, as the expert, to explain this thoroughly and advise them on the best course of action.
Joseph and his team focus on helping authors nail the basics before they advertise their book, but you might specialise in ads and promotions. If so, be honest when you answers to requests and don't be shy about recommending more appropriate professionals to authors. They will be thankful and remember you for it — which means they’ll be likely to come back to you later.
3. Demonstrate your skills in your profile
Your freelancer profile (or website) is your shopfront — it’s where potential clients browse to see whether you have the right skills and experience to achieve what they want.
Here, you’ll find that the popular writing advice ‘show, don’t tell’ offers a good approach. Instead of just talking about what you can do, use your profile to show it. Add photos of book covers, sales graphs, and screenshots of book reviews you helped acquire. Include a few sentences about:
- What the problem was;
- The solution you proposed; and
- The result of your efforts.
Not only does this help authors see how competent you are, but it also provides a way for you to organize and condense your thoughts about common book marketing issues — which will be helpful in the next step.
4. Attend author conferences and workshops
The next thing you might be worried about is how to find clients as a book marketer. As well as joining publishing marketplaces like Reedsy, you can meet up with plenty of authors through events like author conferences and workshops both online and offline. Some conferences that Reedsy’s book marketers recommend include BookExpo, the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition, and regional events like the US Book Show organized by Publishers Weekly.
We also recommend subscribing to industry news sites like Publishers Weekly and following relevant associations (like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for those working in kidlit) on social media to keep an eye out for exciting networking opportunities.
To make a good impression for yourself, heed Rebecca Rebus’s advice: offer some free, informal advice regarding book marketing whenever you get the chance. Focus on being helpful, Rebecca emphasis, and not on pushing your services onto authors. There’s no need to sell yourself too much — naturally, your willingness and expertise will encourage authors to reach out to you.
Build connections with other professionals, too
It’s not just the potential clients who are worth connecting with — you can also share advice with fellow publishing professionals. If another marketer comes across a project they’re not specialized in, or a proofreader has just finished a manuscript they think will hit the shelf soon, you want them to think of you and send their client your way!
5. Maintain good relationships with previous clients
Speaking of referrals, the power of good client relationships is truly exponential. A smooth collaboration can lead to shining testimonials and referrals as well as repeated collaborations. Book marketing is a long and complicated process, you never know if authors might need your help again somewhere else down the road or when they publish their next book!
Children’s book marketer Tara Lewis, who has worked on popular series like Percy Jackson, knows this better than anyone. She says: “An author should feel supported and be able to trust that the marketer doesn’t vanish once the project is complete. It’s sometimes overlooked, but skills should also include important traits such as being helpful, pleasant, and very timely in responding to messages.” Making authors feel welcome to ask follow-up questions can easily lead to follow-up collaborations — which is ideal for a freelance career!
The book industry is all for that positive energy — and to be honest, what more can we ask for in a job? Hopefully these tips help you begin your own publishing journey as a freelance book marketer, we can't wait to see the brilliant books you help get out into the world!