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5 Ways Your Competition Can Help You Promote Your Books
By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
If you want to market successfully, you need to be smart. Why reinvent the wheel if there are more effective ways to promote yourself and your books? If you take the time to see what your competitors are doing, you’ll discover plenty of ideas and inspiration to keep you going – without resorting to only imitating what others do.
You’re simply being a smart marketer, and that means keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. Understanding your market means being aware of who else is in the space. What books have they written? How do they price their books? How do they reach their audience? When you learn these things, you’ll have a better understanding of your market, and you’ll be in the perfect position to set yourself apart from your competitors.
This isn’t about copying anyone. Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery in this case. But you should know who else is in your market. You’ll gain so many insights from keeping tabs on your competitors. You’ll also learn some valuable marketing tips, and if you ever wonder how to get your message out more effectively you may find the answers from observing what your peers say and do to keep their fans engaged.
Here are some ways you can keep up with the competition:
1. Google search and alerts: You start by looking for others in your market. You’ll find names and book titles, but you’ll also discover ways to touch base with your fans. No matter your topic, search for authors and books, but ignore the big names and titles. At their level, they can do just about anything and they’ll succeed – that’s one of the bonuses of their success, they are now their own brands (think Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Deepak Chopra). Look for the level below this supergroup because these are the authors who are working hard to break through.
Develop your list of competitors and sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media. This is how you’ll learn what they do to market themselves, but you’ll also support another author. You’ll learn a lot from this stage of your research, starting with the best social media sites for your market. Then take a closer look at what they do, what they share, how frequently they blog. You’ll save a lot of time down the road by doing this research and using the results to help you focus your own marketing efforts.
You can also set up Google Alerts, and use sites like talkwalker.com and mention.net to monitor their activity. You’ll also see where they’ve been featured, and you can use that information when it’s time to pitch yourself.
2. Go to the bookstore: A significant portion of book awareness still comes from brick and mortar stores, and knowing what’s selling well in your market is important. Bookstores will only stock books they believe will sell. Check out your genre and see what’s in stock, but once again, focus not on the big names but on the authors you don’t know. The big names get shelf space easily, but it’s much more of a challenge for lesser-known authors. You should buy copies of those books, too, as part of your research. Then you can see how they handled their topic, and you can discover ways to address the issues more effectively. Or, you’ll learn how you can make your book different from theirs.
3. Look for reviews: Find the books on Amazon and then read the reviews. See what readers say; what did they like? What did they feel was missing? You can discover issues and trends that haven’t been covered, or realize you can address the issues from a new perspective that meets readers’ needs.
4. Attend author presentations: If you’re lucky, at least one of the authors you’re following will have an event in your area that you can attend. This is a great way to network, meet people in your market, and support another author. If the author has a speaking event make note of the questions attendees ask because they can be fodder for topics you can cover – in your blog, in a new book, etc.
5. Check out conferences: This is an opportunity for you to learn from others in your field. You’ll get to meet people, network, and gain new ideas. You’ll get stale if you remain stuck in your office. You’ll also find it easier to remain motivated when you keep up with your industry.
A big component of success is getting to know your market and keeping up with what’s going on. The benefits are manifold: you’ll learn, get new ideas, make contacts, and build connections with colleagues (they aren’t just competition) as well as fans. That’s what all the research, learning, and sharing is ultimately about: helping you grow your own fanbase.
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.
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