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Ep 075: “The 4 Ps for Book Marketing”

Welcome to the 75th episode of The Author Hangout, a podcast designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!

“There’s 4 P’s, which are Product, Place, Price and Promotion. When I look at my book, I don’t just see the book, I look at these 4 elements.”– Alinka Rutkowska

The 4 Ps for Book Marketing

In this episode, Alinka Rutkowska, bestselling author of How I Sold 80,000 Books, shares her focus and view of marketing, sharing what she feels are the key components of marketing your book, which she calls “The 4 Ps for Book Marketing.”

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Intro

She’s an award winning author, coach and entrepreneur who not only writes bestselling children’s fiction but also serves as CEO of LibraryBub, a service that connects Indie authors with libraries. In addition to co-authoring a collection of stories that follow the adventures of 2 characters called Maya and Filippo, she wrote the popular guide How I Sold 80,000 Books and 200 Book Marketing Tips that teach fellow self-publishers how to find success. Here to share her journey and insight is Alinka Rutkowska.

How did you become an author and publish your first book?

“I was working in a big corporation in Europe and it was in their headquarters. But after a couple of years of working there, I was just feeling like I’m not realizing my full potential. I really wanted to write something, not just something but I had an idea of what I wanted to write. I was, at the time, whirling in terms of my personal development. That was very close to me and I wanted to write about that. I started writing and I was really, really passionate about that. I was writing before work, after work. Work was sort of in the way. I really wanted to be writing. And then, marketing the book, I really enjoyed the marketing aspect as well. So it started like that. I was still in the big corporation but a couple of months after I published the very first book that was in 2010, a couple of months after that I was performing very well with just one book. That pushed me to say goodbye to my regular full-time job. I think that this mindset that I knew you had to look at your career or at your product, not just as a product but as 4 elements, if anybody’s studying marketing you’ll know that there’s 4 P’s, which are called Product, Place, Price and Promotion. So when I look at my book I don’t just see the book I look at these 4 elements and I think that comes in handy.”

What about the first “P”, Product?

“Even before you hit publish, you have to think about marketing. I’ll have to skip something but you can definitely read about everything in my book How I Sold 80,000 Books sold on Amazon. But I will touch on some of the points in a way that will make sense as I explain everything. So when you have your book, let’s say it’s ready, it’s written. Before you publish it, you already have to think about marketing and I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of times authors say, “you need to have a list” you need to have your list. One of the best places, inexpensive, zero cost places to ask somebody to subscribe to your list is in your book. At the beginning and at the end of your book you can say, you can get another something for free, and I would include an image. Say, “If you subscribe here…” some authors ask me, do I need another free book? It will be good to have another free book but you can just have a couple free chapters, like a prequel; what happens even before this book and have it available only on your website.”

Your next “P” is “Place”… please tell us about that:

“You basically have to choose where you want your book, online or offline. Online is pretty easy. You just upload your book on major sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Gobo and you can either do it directly or you can do it by an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. And then offline, of course your books will have the opportunity to be in book stores or in libraries. In CreateSpace when you click on expanded distribution you have the opportunity to be there. If somebody goes to Barnes & Noble and says I want this book, they will order it for them. It doesn’t mean it will be on the shelf. Then there are many other places where your books can be, like at supermarkets, airports, cruise lines, independent bookstores, gas stations, therapist offices and all these places.”

What thoughts do you have on “Price”?

“Obviously you have to look at your competition and be competitive. Here’s something that’s a really good idea to do, everybody knows about the series and the first book in the series free “Permafree”, but it doesn’t have to be a series. For example, the book that I’ve been talking about, How I Sold 80,000 Books, I published it as a Permafree book. It’s been permanently free for 6 months. I also managed to get traffic to the book via Facebook ads. I ran some ads and I have people opt in. After they opted in, I would send them to download the book on Amazon or any other retailer. That’s how I got all those reviews so fast. After 6 months I doubled the content of the book. I added some interviews with authors about what type of success they had, just more details. Now I’m charging $2.99 for the book.”

The final “P” is “Promotion”… What are your tips for promoting?

“I divided it into 3 parts: the promotion you do inside your book, online, and offline. I’ll try to fly through it now. So, inside the book: whatever on earth you have any type of awards, put it on the book. Online, there’s so many things you can do, you have to have a website. You don’t really need a lot on that website. You definitely need an opt in form and the reason why people should opt in. Even with an email signature, I have a call-to-action in my email signature. I tell people, are you an author? Go and download 200 Book Marketing Tips here. They go and click on the opt in form. So whenever you send an email people see that. And that’s for free. And of course social media.”

If you started over today, what would you tell yourself to help you sell more books?

“I would start writing. That’s what I did for my novel after 5 years of no experience. I started writing my drafts on WordPad, it’s a site where you can publish your draft. It’s all copyrighted so you should be safe. Basically, publish every day, or how often you write on WordPad and people read it and of course I, had to put in at the beginning and at the end, and a couple of times in the middle, “If you want to get the book for free when it comes out, sign up here.” I started building my fan base for a book that hasn’t even come out yet. That’s really important. Just do anything to have a list. Whoever has a list wins. Imagine, you have a new release and you send out a notification to 10,000 people saying, “Hey, my book is out.” Then you get a couple of hundred who will buy it and then you’re already on top of the charts in Amazon. You’re in the “also bought” of other big authors and that’s how the avalanche starts.”

How can people connect with you?

I’d like to invite you to pick up a copy of 200 Book Marketing Tips at http://alinkarutkowska.com/authors-home/ as a gift.

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  • I thought this was a good interview and found the information helpful. One thing I was curious about was how Alinka wound up with so many sales on her first book. She indicated she wasn’t sure how it happened. I’ve listened to a number of interviews in the past where similar statements have been made. For those of us who are struggling to achieve sales, actually learning how a specific book becomes a success while another book does not is key. Is it the content? Is it the genre? Does the author have some notoriety or is an expert in some field (and already has a large following), and then decides to write a book? If we as listeners could gain an understanding of how this happens for authors who have become successful, I think that would be beneficial and also much appreciated.