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Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide

Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Fauzia Burke, S.C. Gwynne (Foreword by)

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If You Want People to Read Your Book,
Writing It Is Only the Beginning

There has truly never been a better time to be an author. For the first time, authors have direct access to the public via the Internet—and can create a community eagerly awaiting their book. But where do new authors start? How do they sort through the dizzying range of online options?


If You Want People to Read Your Book,
Writing It Is Only the Beginning

There has truly never been a better time to be an author. For the first time, authors have direct access to the public via the Internet—and can create a community eagerly awaiting their book. But where do new authors start? How do they sort through the dizzying range of online options? Where should they spend their time online and what should they be doing?

Enter Fauzia Burke, a digital book marketing pioneer and friend of overwhelmed writers everywhere. She takes authors step-by-step through the process of identifying their unique personal brand, defining their audience, clarifying their aspirations and goals, and setting priorities. She offers advice on designing a successful website, building a mailing list of superfans, blogging, creating an engagement strategy for social media, and more. By following Burke's expert advice, authors can conquer the Internet and still get their next manuscript in on time.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“With her industry savvy, creative thinking, passion for online PR and brand development, and boundless energy, Fauzia is a true asset to any author.”

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Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt

Online Marketing for Busy Authors

A Step-by-Step Guide

By Fauzia Burke

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Fauzia Burke
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62656-787-0


Personal Branding 101

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.

Tom Peters

When I ask authors how they feel about online marketing, the answer I get most often is, "I feel overwhelmed." I understand that feeling, but it doesn't have to be that way.

There has never been a better time to be an author, because for the first time authors have direct access to their readers. While there is more competition in the marketplace, there is also more opportunity.

The biggest challenge for most of my clients is finding the time to build their brands and market their books while writing the best book possible. To thrive in today's competitive markets, personal branding is more important than ever. Your ability to successfully execute your online marketing plan will help you capture and hold your reader's attention.

By reading this book you will have already taken the first step toward accepting your role as the marketing director of your career. You can begin your online marketing work as soon as you have an idea for your book. You will find that it is easier to get an agent and/or a publisher and certainly easier to build your audience if you have already built a personal brand online.

When readers identify with you and your brand, they feel loyal and connected to you. It is important to respect this loyalty and make sure you are providing the best information possible. For every author, building a relationship with readers should be a top goal (after making sure the book is the best that it can be). By identifying your ideal audience and reaching out to them, you will be building connections with your readers. As marketing expert and author Seth Godin says, "Make a dent in the conversation among your chosen audience. As more people talk about your book, the more people will be buying your book." He's got that right.

With social media, readers and authors can connect like never before. Google searches, micro-communities, and niche marketing give authors unprecedented access to their readers. There was a time when authors could only guess about the people who read their books. Today, authors can not only know their readers, they can be friends with them.

Readers today are tech savvy and resourceful. They know how to get the information they need, and they have high expectations from authors. They don't just expect a new book, they expect a community along with their book. You'll need to evolve your marketing to accommodate this new kind of reader: a reader whose loyalty you can have — once you have earned it. Is that too much to expect? Perhaps. But this is your new reader, and she will stay with you if you stay with her.

Many successful authors have done an enviable job of branding themselves and their work and building reader communities around their books. Their brands are so commonly known they can be described in a word — marketing, vegan, wellness, yoga, entrepreneurship, leadership. You may not have read their books, but you know what they publish. Their communities trust them. People who share their point of view flock to their sites. If your audience can effectively describe you and your message in a word, you have established a clear, powerful brand.

[??] Tip for #BusyAuthors

If you don't invest in your brand, no one else will either.

What is your online brand?

The best part about online marketing is that it levels the playing field. We are more connected than ever before so the author with the biggest marketing budget doesn't always win. Although establishing your brand takes time and consistent effort, the world of social media can speed up the process of creating connections. Yet with all this interconnectedness, how do you prevent your brand from getting lost in all the social media noise?

The answer: Be uniquely you. Aim for authenticity. Take some time to consider what you want people to think of when they think of you.

Every year I attend a branding conference at Columbia University called Brite. I love Brite because it gives me a chance to step outside the book publishing industry and hear success stories from other industries.

A couple of years ago, I heard a presentation from Mary Beech, chief marketing officer of Kate Spade. I was so impressed with their branding mission and how clearly they knew the "Kate Spade girl." She said that "without a clear brand voice, social media can be paralyzing and downright detrimental." I agree.

It is important to make your brand as clear and compelling as possible. If you had to go around a room and describe your brand to a group of people, could you do it in just a few sentences? You want people to gravitate toward you because they identify with your brand, so keep it impactful and interesting. Here are some questions that can help you think about your personal brand.

[??] Tip for #BusyAuthors

A personal brand statement allows you to carve out your niche and helps you decide the content and tone of what you share.

Questions to help you identify your brand

As you answer these questions, remember that this is not an elevator pitch. You don't have to share these responses with anyone. It's just a way to get clear on your personal brand.

What skill do you posses that you can speak honestly and confidently about? ______________________________________________________



What do people say about you? ______________________________________________________



What is your greatest strength?




What type of information can you share to offer value?




What are your passions?




What type of personality do you have?




What are your natural or learned gifts?




What topics are you most often asked about?




What problems are you solving with your book?




What makes you stand out? ______________________________________________________



How do you differ from others in your same niche?




Here's a sample of my brand statement once I was done with this exercise:

I help authors and publishers promote their books online. I have 20 years of experience, which allows me to advise my clients and readers on the most effective and efficient methods for building their brand and promoting their books. I am enthusiastic and passionate about my work-some even call me a true believer. My curiosity and optimism has made me a natural risk-taker and has kept me ahead of the curve. My mission is to demystify online marketing and give practical, jargon-free advice.

In this brand statement are clues about the content I share on social media. I usually give advice about book marketing, share my enthusiasm for all things digital, express the joy (and hardship) of being an entrepreneur, and keep my tone upbeat and optimistic. I may mention other things, but I quickly come back to the content that builds my brand.

Now it's your turn: Write down your brand message and look for clues for your brand voice.




One more exercise: Looking at my brand message, I could share information about:

1. ____________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________

4. ____________________________________________________

5. ____________________________________________________

6. ____________________________________________________

My brand voice is: ___________________________ and ____


Here are some examples of brand voice: upbeat, optimistic, serious, creative, fun, hip, artsy, funny, silly, whimsical, person-able, smart, educational, inspirational, helpful, trendy classic, sassy. Please stay away from snarky. It usually doesn't play well online.

Many people struggle with what to say and share on social media. These exercises should help you decide on your content and your voice. When in doubt, look at the list you've made and decide if the content you want to post fulfills your brand promise.

You've got a start on your personal brand. What should you think about next? Think big — explore your dreams for your book.


You Gotta Dream Big

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

Gloria Steinem

Part of the reason I love my job is because I help authors make their dreams come true, but those dreams don't manifest instantly. Okay, they do for some — but those are the exceptions. To become a well-known and well-established professional author you have to be ready for the long haul, so adjust your expectations and remember that building an effective brand is a marathon, not a sprint.

This work is important, but it's not easy or quick. There may be an investment of years before you see the results you want. Or the results may look quite different from the ones you initially set out to achieve.

For now let's just explore this territory. The next step is to think of your dreams. Have fun with this list and check all that apply:

[] I sell a zillion copies of my book.

[] My business grows by 400 percent.

[] I am on TV.

[] I have my own TV show.

[] I am on radio on big networks.

[] I have a thoughtful interview on NPR.

[] I have a special on PBS.

[] I am on the cover of the New York Times book review section.

[] I gain the respect of my peers in the academic world.

[] My mom is really proud.

[] People magazine features my book.

[] The "real housewives" said my book saved their lives on a daytime talk show.

[] My colleagues reviewed and praised my book.

[] I speak at conferences, traveling 50 percent of my time.

[] I am a regular contributor to Huffington Post and other popular online venues.

[] I become rich from the sales of my book.

[] I am on a reality TV show.

[] I sell movie rights.

[] I have 2,000 5-Star reviews on Amazon.

Keep going — these are your dreams after all ...




Keep this list of dreams handy because it will serve as an inspiration. As you begin the work of building a brand, there will be days when you may want to give up, days on which you feel no one out there is listening. But be patient. Slowly you will see signs of success — sometimes it just doesn't happen when you expect. It's like waiting for your baby's first smile. In fact, when I talk to my clients, I use a newborn as a metaphor for personal branding. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.

The first four weeks of parenting a newborn make for a one-way relationship. There is a whole lot of love flowing in your baby's direction, and a whole lot of work — feeding, changing, and soothing. Without a doubt, it's exhausting and at times frustrating. Day in and day out you adoringly devote yourself to your baby without any interaction back. But then, all of a sudden, your newborn looks into your eyes and smiles. Suddenly, your frustration melts away and you happily stay up all night and take care of your sweet baby.

That's what personal branding is like for me. In the beginning, it's all work. You wonder if anyone other than your mother is reading your blog. You feel a little defeated because you don't see immediate results from all of your outreach. "Where's the interaction or conversation?" you ask yourself. Rest assured, with patience and diligence your personal brand will become a relationship. If you attentively care for your baby — your personal brand — then your baby will smile back at you. You can't generate conversations overnight.

Care tenderly for your personal brand and you will reap the rewards of your efforts. One day everything will change for you. Someone will respond to you and let you know that your message matters. Someone will touch you by saying, "Thanks for what you wrote. It meant a lot to me." And that's the moment when you will stop asking, "Why am I doing this?"

Your day will come. Really. Trust me. As W. Clement Stone said, "Always aim for the Moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

[??] Tip for #BusyAuthors

Remember to pace yourself and stay the course. It is easy to get discouraged if you don't see instant success.


Know Thy Reader

The future of publishing is about having connections to readers and the knowledge of what those readers want.

Seth Godin

You now understand the value of building a brand and you've captured your dreams for your book. The next step is to figure out your audience, because you need to know how to find them and reach them. You need to know where your readers spend their time and what social media sites they visit. There's no point in learning to be the next Twitter expert if your audience is not even on Twitter.

Do you know where to find your readers based on what you know about them? Your answer is probably, "Kinda." Even if you think you know your readers, your ideas are probably way too broad. Over the years, authors have told me interesting things when it comes to their audience. Most of the time it's half the planet. "My audience is women," they tell me, or "it's people who have a job" or "people who have families." Being broad and general is not helpful when you are planning online marketing.

Understanding your readers is crucial because it will help you devise the best online strategy for you and your book. Online marketing is customized and personalized. It is essential for you to know your audience so you can serve them best. You should know their age group, gender, interests, and which social media outlets they use and where they hang out online. The more you know about them, the better your marketing will be.

Once I was working with a client who hired us to help brand her before her book came out. She is a nutritionist and works with children and their eating habits. You may think that is a narrow audience, but as we did the work we realized we needed to narrow the focus even more. Once we realized her message was resonating most with parents of toddlers, her campaign and messaging became much more focused and successful.

Remember, not all marketing ideas are good. An author once told me that he wanted to tell people about his book from the rooftop of the Apple Store in Manhattan using a megaphone. That might be a creative approach, but it probably would not have sold many books. Another author wanted to hire "hot girls" to hand out flyers on New York's Park Avenue. Again, the chances that a passerby will be a potential reader are low. If he wrote a graphic novel and wanted to pass out flyers at Comic-Con, that would be a different story. Always keep in mind your readers and where you can find them.


Excerpted from Online Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia Burke. Copyright © 2016 Fauzia Burke. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, one of the first firms to specialize in digital branding and online publicity for books. Founded in 1995, FSB Associates has successfully launched more than 2,000 online book publicity campaigns. Burke has worked on books by Alan Alda, Sue Grafton, Brian Tracy, Joe Pantoliano, Marina Keegan, Kathy Freston, Deepak Chopra, and many others.

S.C. Gwynne is the author of theNew York TimesbestsellersRebel YellandEmpire of the Summer Moon,whichwas a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National BookCritics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as ajournalist,including stints withTimeas bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and withTexasMonthlyas executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife.

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