Tools and tactics may change, but the principles of book marketing remain the same whatever the situation. Becky Robinson gives advice on how to reach readers and market your books for the long term.
In the intro, The Things You Think Matter — Don’t [Ryan Holiday]; Boost Your Backlist [ALLi]; Craving Independence [The Bookseller]; 21st Century Creative [Mark McGuinness]; My Shopify store is live [CreativePennBooks.com]; Thoughts from the Pilgrim’s Way [Books and Travel].
This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Becky Robinson is the author of Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause. She is also the founder and CEO of the digital marketing agency, Weaving Influence.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- Reframing marketing
- Providing value to your audience
- Generosity and social karma
- Curated authenticity
- Figuring out your author brand
- Keeping ambition alive while building for the long-term
- What has changed, and what has stayed the same in book marketing
You can find Becky Robinson at BeckyRobinson.com and on Twitter @beckyrbnsn
Transcript of Interview with Becky Robinson
Joanna: Becky Robinson is the author of Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause. She is also the founder and CEO of the digital marketing agency, Weaving Influence. Welcome to the show, Becky.
Becky: Thank you so much, Joanna. It’s great to be with you.
Joanna: This is such a great topic, and many authors need this. But let’s start with an attitude question, because many authors actually hate the idea of marketing.
How can authors reframe marketing as valuable and important for reaching readers?
Becky: I think one thing is to really focus on the reason why you wrote the book in the first place.
Most people who write nonfiction write it because they have a valuable message to add to the world, they have an idea or a cause that they want to promote through their nonfiction book.
If someone’s writing fiction, then they likely have a story that they want to tell that compelled them to write and publish a book. So I think staying connected to the reason why you wrote the book in the first place can help you have, perhaps, a different attitude toward marketing, because I think what authors quickly find out is that without marketing, they are unlikely to reach the audience that they have intended for their book.
So in terms of another reframe, I also try to help authors overcome this idea that when they’re promoting their book, they’re promoting themselves. No one really wants to feel like they’re a self-promoter, or very few of us do.
Instead, I encourage people to reframe and look at it that when you have a book to promote, book promotion is not self-promotion, its message or story promotion.
Those two tweaks of really viewing marketing your book as bringing value to others either through learning, or education, or inspiration, or entertainment, and then realizing that apart from sharing your book, likely, your audience won’t discover it.
Joanna: That’s so important because I feel that there is a overarching message, which I think is being done by the traditional industry, which is if your book is good enough, people will find you. Is that true at all?
Becky: I don’t think so, Joanna, except that it’s the early efforts to get our book into audience’s hands that potentially could propel you beyond those early audiences, and in a way, then people would find you. But I think those chances are quite rare.
Instead, if you write a book, and it’s out there, and you don’t promote it, chances are, it will just get lost.
There are millions of books on Amazon, there are hundreds or thousands of new books released every day.
Every book needs to find an initial audience. The hope would be that once you find an initial audience, if that audience finds value, they’ll expand awareness and share the book with others. But there are no guarantees.
In order to ensure that we create the reach that we want for our work, we really do need to have a focused and diligent approach and an approach that goes over months and years, not only just over the days when the book comes out.
Joanna: You mentioned value there. I love that your book talks about value, it’s definitely something that I focus on as well for my nonfiction.
What do you mean by delivering value? And how can we do that in our marketing, not just in our books?
Becky: The first thing I would say is that we want to be very clear about the audience that we’re creating content for. It’s the audience who determines the value.
So you mentioned to me, Joanna, before we started to record that your audience is authors, so, of course, authors find value in what you’re creating.
I think the mistake that some authors make is they think their book is for everyone. And when you try to serve everyone, in some ways, you may never serve anyone.
If you have clarity about who your audience is, you’ll be more likely to predict what they will find valuable. So the value is really determined by the person who’s receiving the content.
As it relates to how you can share value through your marketing and not only through your book, the way that you can do that is by using the content in the book and other related content in your online presence.
So you want to think about, ‘What’s the content that I can regularly create and share that will meet the felt needs of my audience, that will be a value to my audience, and what are the various ways I can bring that to them so that as I’m showing up in online spaces, it’s not just with the message of, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book, but, instead, it’s actually sharing the content from within the book in a way that will attract awareness and interest?’
Joanna: I just want to follow up on a couple of things here. You talked about the clarity around who the audience is, and I feel this is actually a really difficult thing for people because even if they don’t say my audience is everyone. Because I feel like people often just think about themselves.
I’m a woman, I’m in my late 40s, I’m British, I’m happily childfree, I’m married. There are things about my demographics. But what I found with my own audience, particularly with my fiction, is it’s more about interests than demographics.
I feel like sometimes the traditional ways of thinking about a market can underestimate the more global reach around, I guess they call it psychographics, which is people who are interested in certain topics or certain genres of fiction.
How can we both broaden and narrow our idea of who our audience is and find out who they might be?
Becky: I’ve always thought about audience and the discovery of audience as somewhat being a discovery-driven process.
And what I mean by that is, we might start out with a certain demographic, as you mentioned, in mind, and along the way, we might discover that there are people outside of that demographic who are finding value in, or who are interested in our work.
And sometimes I like to actually work backwards. So, your audience really is those people who start to show up and engage with you.
If you’re having trouble getting clarity about who your audience is, it can be helpful to really distill down to, who are the people who are engaging with the content that you’re creating? Now, obviously, you want that to expand over time.
For example, with email marketing, I will often get an idea of the audience that I’m sending my email marketing to based on who responds to me and what I can learn about them. And so as I send out my email newsletter on Fridays, I’m asking a lot of questions in hopes that people will write me back so I can really learn who they are.
I think it can be helpful to think about your audience almost in that one-on-one way. And if you’re crafting content, whether it’s a blog post, or a podcast interview, or a webinar, or an eBook, really, it can help to just identify one person.
Of the people who have been engaging with your online content, is there one person that this particular piece of content is meant to serve? One of the ways you can do that is if you receive a lot of questions from people.
I have a young woman who has followed me and we’re connected, we’re friends. And sometimes when I craft content, I do it exactly with Nikki in mind. And I’ll think, ‘Okay. Well, Nikki, who’s a first-time self-published author has this set of questions, I want to create some content to answer her, and in doing so, I’m going to attract others like her.’ Does that make sense?
Joanna: Absolutely. You did mention something there that I know will freak some people out. And it’s something I think about, is those who show up and engage are our audience, and asking questions to learn who they are.
I’m an introvert, and I love creating, I’ve written over 30 books. Many people who are listening, we love writing books. That’s what we want to do, we’re authors. And so the thought of spending so long doing email or engaging on social media when our words could be, perhaps, better put into writing more books. What would you say to them?
Becky: For any creator, you need to learn how to balance the creating of your new books with showing up with value in online spaces.
It may mean that you need to get some support if you can afford to hire a team member who can engage with or for you, or it may mean that you need to really think about what it is that has driven the success of your work. And it’s not one-size-fits-all.
I met a fiction author earlier this year at an event, his name is Steven James. And he’s a really great bestselling fiction author. Well, one of the things about fiction is, the more books you publish, the more you can grow an audience almost organically, because as people discover and love one of your books, they’ll buy and read others, and then your backlist can get stronger.
So, in some ways, there is a case to be made on the fiction side to keep writing maybe even beyond prioritizing an audience all the time because the more books you have, the more books people will be able to find.
I would also say that there has to be a way that you show up in online spaces to build awareness for your work. So just figuring out what works for you as an author.
Joanna: I think that’s really important. It is about choosing what works for you. And audio is one of the formats I choose. But what I like about this format with podcasting is there are many thousands of people who will listen to this interview, and we don’t know who they are. I feel like this is actually one way of providing value to an audience, but it’s more of a push thing.
Now, some people will email, some people will tweet, and some people will leave a comment, but nowhere near the number of people who consume the content.
What do you think about this type of push or broadcast media compared to asking people to respond to an email or on social, which, to me, is much more intense?
Becky: The choice to do a podcast and deliver content of value in an audio format is a completely valid way to grow an audience.
And what I would say about it is that it’s important on the other side to just have clarity about the metrics of your podcast so that you can decide whether or not you need to promote it in other ways to continue to expand your audience.
In the book, I define reach as not only lasting impact, which we can have as people choose to read our books or listen to our podcasts, but also expanding audience.
So as a creator, and, Joanna, you may know that I also have a podcast, I want to know how many people are listening, I want to get as much information about them as I can so I can continue to create and share content that will be of value to them.
Joanna: Absolutely. Let’s come back to the book. You include generosity in your list of important principles, which, again, I really love, because I feel this is something I’ve focused on since the beginning.
What are some of the ways we can be more generous in practical ways with our marketing?
Becky: I’ll start with the simplest one. What I’ve noticed in serving authors over the past decade is that the more books you give away, the more you expand the audience for your book.
Now, I understand that not everyone has the capacity or financial margin to give away books, but whenever possible, I recommend making your book available in different ways to people who might benefit from it.
One author I’ve served has said that for every book that he wants to sell, he needs to give away 10%. So if you want to sell 10,000 books, he thinks, along the way, you need to give away at least 1,000.
I don’t have any scientific data about that, but I’ve definitely noticed on my own journey that by giving away the book, I help people discover its value, and that compels them to share it with others. So the first way that you can be generous is just giving your book away if you have the means to do so.
The second thing I would say is giving away the ideas in the book. So if you’re a nonfiction author and you can share in various ways, whether it’s audio, if that’s what’s comfortable, whether it’s through free webinars, whether it’s through your social media presence, sharing the message of the book freely with others.
I would say also sharing of yourself to promote others. I’ve noticed on my journey, when I’ve been able to promote others’ books or others’ work, quite often, that can create a world in which then they become interested in my book. And I’ve noticed this among fiction authors.
The good thing about fiction is that most people who read fiction are always looking for the next read. And so if you’re a fiction author and you can promote other authors who have written books that are similar to yours, then there’s this amazing synchronicity that happens where people can move from one author to the next and really enjoy the work of many authors.
I have a fiction author, I’ve been supporting Stephanie Landsem, and she writes historical fiction. I just see consistently her pointing people to other historical fiction books that she loves. That generosity of spirit, I think, then helps her to be seen as not only someone who can recommend great books, but then people might be interested to read hers.
Joanna: I totally agree. I call that social karma, which is you share without the expectation of return. But it does return eventually from another source or somewhere else. But the more generous you can be, I feel like, and also, it’s just a positive way to live, right? It just makes you happy to be generous. And then I feel like it does come back in some way.
Becky: Yes, I think so. There’s definitely joy to be shared if you love books and you are attracting other people who love books to just be able to say, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m reading, and I loved it.’ As an author, it’s so great to be on the receiving end of that as well.
Joanna: All of us are readers. I’m always sharing the books I’m reading. But I love that you mentioned giving away the ideas in your book. You were talking about nonfiction here.
Because as a podcast host, one of the most annoying things is when someone comes on the show and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, I can’t share that because that’s in my book, and I want people to buy the book.’
What would you say to people who use podcasting to promote their book? Is it the same, to give all the ideas away?
Becky: Of course, you want to give all the ideas away, because how can people know that they want to buy your book if they’re not sure what you’re writing about?
And I’ve personally found that it’s not really possible to give away too much. I try to give away as much as I can.
Obviously, I run a business, and so I do need to attract customers to my business. But when I show up to a call with someone, I can never be sure if they’re going to hire me or not.
But I want to give, absolutely, as much value in that first time of meeting someone as I can because what that shows them is that they can expect that I’ll continue to give value to them if they happen to hire me.
I feel like it’s the same way with a book. I don’t think you can give away too many of the ideas in your book, all you’re doing really is demonstrating to someone that the content is something that would benefit them. And if not, then your book probably isn’t for them.
Joanna: Absolutely. And they will have turned off by now. Which is what I also like about podcasting, people can really choose whether to stick around and listen.
To get back into the book, so we know we have to have an author brand. And in the book, you say,
‘Branding doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. In fact, it’s super simple.’
And again, I know all the listeners are going, ‘What? What is she talking about?’ Tell us more about branding.
Becky: I think that people will often overthink branding. And, honestly, your brand already exists. The brand is you. And the way that you can get clear about your brand is really to articulate the value that you hope to bring to audiences.
Then there’s also the set of choices that we can make about our brand. So your brand can be visually how people envision you in terms of what you look like, but it’s also the personal qualities that you bring to your work.
One of the ways that we can figure out what our brand is by asking people. I can call up my three best clients and say, ‘Hey, what do you think I’m good at? What do you think of when you think of me?’
It doesn’t have to be this overwrought analysis, but it’s really like, who are you, and what’s the best of who you are, and what’s the best of what you want to bring to others?
Joanna: It’s so interesting you say that because at the beginning, you said, ‘It’s not about self-promotion, it’s about message and story promotion.’
How do we say that the brand is us while not promoting ourselves?
Becky: That’s a really, really good question, Joanna. How I would differentiate those two thoughts is that people connect to people. Particularly with nonfiction, I think that people who are reading nonfiction want to know who the thought leader behind the book is. While promoting our book is about promoting the value that we’re bringing to others, I think we do that by connecting in personal relationship with others.
Now, you mentioned being an introvert and feeling a little bit uncomfortable with this idea of engaging. I don’t necessarily think it has to be one-on-one, because, of course, one-on-one relating to the readers of our book doesn’t scale.
But I think that part of generosity is just being generous about sharing of ourselves and the more authentic we can be in sharing the content that we’ve created with the world, that more easily, people will feel like they’re connected to us. I’m not sure if that makes sense.
The idea is the brand is you because people connect to people. And as you share your book, you’re sharing content that’s of value, but the way that people connect with that content is often personal.
Joanna: I didn’t mean it to be a trick question. I try and ask things that challenge people and then they think differently. But I think it’s important because, I mean, we’re in this interesting world where, on the one hand, we’re encouraged to be open and transparent, and authentic, and real, and all this stuff, but people also are worried and they’re afraid of being too transparent, too authentic, and perhaps giving too much away, or privacy falls apart.
I think about it as ‘curated authenticity,’ which is you and I have brands, and this is our honest conversation, but it’s also our curated selves.
And we’re talking about a particular topic.
I feel like that’s an important distinction. It’s like, yes, be yourself, but this particular part of yourself that you’re willing to share with an audience, but still protect a part of yourself and keep it private.
Becky: Yes. A wholehearted yes to that, Joanna. I appreciate you highlighting that because I know that there are times on my journey where I feel that pull of, ‘Am I really authentic if there are parts of me that I choose to keep private?’
Yes, of course, you can both have boundaries and privacy and curate an authentic self through your online presence. I think it’s good to just remember that your online presence isn’t necessarily all of the real you, it’s part of the real you.
There are parts along the journey that, of course, I choose to keep private and there are times that I choose to be vulnerable or transparent if it can serve my audience more effectively. Can I share an example of that with you, Joanna?
Joanna: Yes, of course.
Becky: One of the things I talk about in the book is the importance of closing what I call the influence gap, which is the gap between who you are in terms of your expertise and in-person spaces and who you are online. What I say is that when you choose to show up online in the same powerful way that you show up in person, then you can create the biggest possible impact for your work.
What I realized when I had a book signing at a bookstore about a month after my book came out is that I’ve likely invested more time in online spaces than in offline spaces. I had all these beautiful photos from the book signing, but they didn’t tell the whole story, because the truth is, I didn’t do a good job with my in-person networks. And the only person who showed up to that particular book signing was my husband’s cousin and his wife.
To me, part of having a real and authentic brand is not curating to make the book signing look better than it was, but trying to navigate, how do I share about this in a way that might add value to my audience so that authors know, hey, if you’re going to have an in-person book signing, you have to do the hard work of inviting personally your in-person network, or you may have this disappointment like I had.
Joanna: I’ve never done one. My whole thing is global online scalable marketing. I just barely do anything in-person. And, in fact, if I ever do a book launch event, it will just be more of a party, I guess. I have thought about it for maybe my 50th birthday or something, eventually doing a book launch or a book signing.
I feel like in-person, you definitely have to organize that a lot more. Whereas I feel like this, like our interview now, people could be listening to this in years to come and it will still provide value. Whereas the physical book signing to me is not really marketing, almost.
Becky: I agree with you. I think it’s more of a reflection, again, of the time invested in a particular place. For those of us who are mostly building online presence and attracting a worldwide audience, then who shows up in one room at one point in time may not be an accurate representation of the impact that we’re having in the world.
Joanna: Super important point.
Let’s talk about longevity. Because, again, a quote from the book, ‘Authors may expect to achieve success at the outset that others accumulate over decades.’ I really feel that, especially as first-time authors, I remember feeling this too, it’s like, ‘Oh, my book’s coming out, I’m going to change all these lives, I’m going to make a million dollars, I can retire,’ all this stuff.
How do we keep that ambition and that hope alive while still building for the long-term?
Becky: I do think it’s important to have a reality check for a first-time author to realize, ‘this is just the first book, it is just the beginning.’ And to have insight.
If you think about nonfiction thought leaders who are making an impact over time, I’ll share two with you. Brené Brown, everyone thinks that her viral TEDx talk that came out around 2013 was when she became big and better-known. Well, actually, she was writing and publishing for a decade before that, and she’s been writing and publishing for a decade since then.
It’s not fair to look at someone like Brené and think, ‘As a first-time author, I can achieve that kind of success.’ It really is the accumulation of adding value to spaces over time that helps a person become more well-known.
I think, for me, in partnering with authors over time, it’s been really obvious. One of my heroes, if you will, is Whitney Johnson, and Whitney Johnson is listed on the Thinkers50, she’s number eight, she’s the number-eight recognized thought leader around the world by the Thinkers organization.
I worked with Whitney back in 2012 when she marketed and launched her first book. And more than 10 years later, when she launched Smart Growth, which is her latest book, I think it’s her fifth book, she did make ‘The Wall Street Journal’ bestseller list, the ‘USA Today’ bestseller list, but it’s only because of the hard work that she’s done across the decades to build her thought leadership brand, and to build audiences, and to add value to others.
She’s done hundreds of podcasts in that time and hundreds of LinkedIn live interviews with people. She’s really built this amazing network and audience.
A reality check for any first-time author is just to know that it’s not likely that you’re going to achieve that kind of success of someone who’s been out there for a decade when your first book comes out.
So really just seeing that every bit of content that we create or every book that we write will likely result in a growing audience and just to be patient with ourselves.
Joanna: Yes. And I’ve never heard of Whitney Johnson. I’ve heard of Brené, obviously, and I’ve read some of her books, but I feel like if there are people we’ve heard of, and we kind of expect that ‘Well, okay, so it took her a decade, well, then it should take me a decade.’ But then a lot of people don’t become Brené Brown in a decade.
And I feel like this almost highlights the importance of finding a tiny niche. I’m tiny bit of internet-famous in my tiny, tiny corner of the internet. And I make a multi-six-figure business as an author. I’ll never be as big as Brené Brown.
We can still carve out our niche without hitting any lists or making it big on YouTube or whatever, right?
Becky: Well, of course, and can I just share with you a moment, Joanna, like, if you can see me, I have my hand on my heart right now because the original title that I had for my book was actually not Reach. the original title was Famous to a Few.
Joanna: Oh, great.
Becky: And the reason why I had that as my working title is because it is true that most of us will never be famous like Brené Brown. But if we choose to show up with value to the audiences who know us, we can become famous to those few who are choosing to follow us. And from those few, we can expand the impact that we have larger beyond just a few.
When you say, ‘I’m famous in my little corner,’ I want to say, ‘Yes,’ and that’s what it really means, if we want to make a difference in the world, we can choose to be famous to the people who are listening to us. We can choose to be famous to the people who are reading us.
If we’re fortunate, those people will choose to share our work with others and our impacts can expand.
But I think that we’ll all do much better if we focus on the difference we want to make in the world and not focus on fame and not focus on fortune.
Joanna: This is the thing. I’m so glad. I prefer that title, actually. I think that’s great. I think it sounds more like the Kevin Kelly’s ‘1000 True Fans’ model, which I feel is truer than ever, which is if you have 1,000 true fans, you can make a living as a creator, basically. And that can be enough, although I don’t think 1,000 book sales at 99 cents or even 9.99 is enough.
But it is interesting that we can niche down in that way. And obviously, you’re a marketing professional, but I feel like some marketing is focused on, ‘Well, you need to get on this TV show, or you need to do this thing.’ And that people associate marketing, ‘good marketing,’ with getting famous.
Whereas, personally, I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to be on TV. I actually don’t want to attract attention. And I think many people feel that way, but yet we have to attract attention to sell books. It feels like that dichotomy.
Becky: That is a difficult and tricky thing. I don’t necessarily think that being on TV will make you famous. And I would like to differentiate between kind of this viral effect where maybe if you go on TV, suddenly, you have tens of thousands more eyeballs on your work. But that’s not necessarily going to translate into that longer-term difference that you want to make.
For someone who wants to make a difference, wants to make a living, I think it’s the consistent value that you’re offering to those audiences who need to hear from you that will achieve more for you in the long run than being famous and being on TV.
Joanna: Absolutely. I’ve never had anything viral happen. I’ve hit bestseller lists, but it hasn’t made that much difference. I feel like the slow growth has been very sustainable. And my sanity has been sustainable as well as my bank account, and yet, it’s been slow growth year-on-year for almost 15 years now.
Becky: It sounds like you’ve discovered something magical that most of us would love to recreate.
Joanna: Well, it’s just what you say. That’s why I was happy to talk to you, because I feel like delivering value, generosity, long-term thinking, this is literally what I’ve been talking about on my show, which is why I was so happy that you talked about it in your book.
Becky: I think maybe I just put together these thoughts in a way, potentially, that’s easy to remember, easy to understand, and describes the experience of people like you who are out there really living it out day-by-day.
Joanna: Let’s talk about the long-term thing, because you mentioned earlier, you’ve been marketing for the past decade. And I’ve been doing this since 2008, and I feel like there are things that have changed and there are things that have stayed the same. So I’m interested in your thoughts.
What has stayed the same and what has changed since you started in book marketing?
Becky: That’s a great question. I think that one thing that has stayed the same is that building a true network of connections and adding value to others still works.
So when I started back in 2000… Well, I started my business in 2012, but I showed up in online spaces in 2009. If I go back to 2009, which is a little bit longer ago, that was when people were really starting to use Facebook and Twitter primarily for online marketing. And it may be now that the channels in terms of the popularity of them has shifted. I no longer use Twitter in quite the same way that I did back in 2009. And there are more of these newer channels that are emerging.
What we’re seeing right now is that, especially fiction authors, are getting a lot of traction on TikTok. Of course, TikTok didn’t exist in 2009. So while the channels may change, I think the need to show up with consistency to share value in whatever channels you choose, that’s the part that hasn’t changed.
If I think about advice that I would have given myself in 2009 that would stay the same now, it’s that your online presence really needs to have a core that you own and control.
An author’s own website really is the most valuable asset.
I believe that from there, once you have your own website, you also want to build a permission-based email list because I think similar to back in 2009, or 2012, or whatever, email marketing is a great way to convert people to whatever offers you have. That hasn’t changed, really, in my mind, from then to now.
What has changed is the various channels that people choose to invest in that are owned by others. I think about Google Plus. So in about 2012, ’13, that was when…
Joanna: Oh, I remember that. Yeah.
Becky: People got obsessed over growing their Google Plus. And, of course, now that’s not even a channel.
The channels that we choose to share content on, they come and go, but what doesn’t really go is the need to really carve out your own space online and share value with others.
Joanna: Of course, you’ll remember Myspace as well, which was the thing before Facebook and YouTube. I think it might still be around, but it kind of was the big thing and then, suddenly, it wasn’t the big thing anymore.
Becky: Exactly. You could say the same thing about blogging or podcasting. Back in 2009, of course, blogging was more popular. Now podcasting is all the rage.
What hasn’t changed is we need to show up in spaces with valuable content. What has changed is the popularity of various types of content. And, of course, now, as I mentioned, TikTok, those shorter video reels are quite popular. I can’t say I’m ready to jump into that game myself.
And based on what you said about preferring audio, I’m betting you’re not ready to jump into that space either?
Joanna: No, definitely not. You mentioned podcasting, it’s interesting, I actually feel like I have been doing the same thing since 2008-2009. And you said it, which is I’ve always owned and controlled my website, my email list, and I’ve driven people to my list from everything else.
What’s so funny about podcasting is, because I started this podcast in 2009, nobody listened for…well, barely anyone listened for years. But because I was trying to give value, I stayed the course. And then, of course, when podcasting really took off, I was well-positioned to be in the right place at the right time and take advantage of audio, SEO, and all those things.
So I feel like sometimes, if you find the channel really that you love, and you stick around, then it can work. And, of course, the channels for audio have changed. So like Spotify, a lot of people will be listening to this on Spotify, which wasn’t around in 2009. But because I own and control this audio feed, I can put it wherever I want.
So, again, as you say, it comes down to owning and controlling your marketing assets.
Becky: Yes, indeed. And that speaks again to the value of generosity, the fact that you started your podcast long ago allows you to continue to have a growing audience and bigger impact with it because you have chosen to stick around.
Joanna: We’re almost out of time, but in terms of you as an author, so you spend most of your time helping authors market their books, but now, of course, you have this book to market.
What kinds of marketing have you found most effective in selling your own book?
Becky: I would say the thing that I did that I’m the most proud of is the generous distribution of my book pre-publication to over 400 people to drive early interest in Amazon reviews.
So I feel like that’s one of the most important things that we did, is look to mobilize those people around me by getting the book to them in advance of launch so that they could read and review it.
I would say also, we have done a lot of podcast interviews which has been really fun to reach new audiences for the book, because, obviously, my own podcast or my own email list is a limited group.
Partnering with others like you who are willing to share my content with your audiences has been a great way to expand people finding out about the book.
So I would say those are two of the key things that we’ve done. But I think, also, there’s just kind of this everyday decision that you have to make of, ‘In what way can I show up with value on my core topics today? In what way can I serve authors, and thought leaders, and nonprofit leaders today? What can I create that would be of value to them?’
It’s that consistent presence to show up with value. And we’re about two months past my book launch as you and I are talking. And it’s really just the beginning. I’m having to remind myself again also of the importance of having that long-term view.
And while it’s possible that the content in my book may not always be as relevant as it is today, I feel like I wrote it in a way that even though the channels may change, the basic concepts that I share should have a long life.
Joanna: I totally agree with you. I’m glad you said that too, because so many people think book marketing is about launch week or launch month, which, again, is a very traditional publishing focus, because generally you get a publicist for a month and the book is in the bookstores for a couple of months.
For most of us, book marketing just goes on and on, doesn’t it? And certainly, I think your book, I think, most of it is entirely long-term. And the same, I have a book on marketing.
The principles, as we talked about, remain the same over time.
Becky: Yes, of course. I used to always say, Joanna, that book marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve really changed my tune since my own book came out. And the reason is because when you say book marketing is a marathon and not a sprint, you still imply that there’s a finish line to reach.
Whereas what I’m thinking about now is that book marketing is more like having a lifelong commitment to fitness and choosing to continue to be fit across your life, because there’s no finish line to that. I feel like to continue to add value through a book, there really isn’t a finish line that we’re striving toward. It’s that ongoing, long-term willingness to show up and add value generously to people through our ideas.
Where can people find you and your book online?
Becky: My book is available in all your favorite online retailers. But if you want to find the links to find the book, you can go to beckyrobinson.com/book. When you get there, you’ll have the chance to listen to an audio sample, read a free chapter of the book if you’d like. And then all the links to buy the book are there at beckyrobinson.com/book.
If you want to find out more about my company, you can find us at weavinginfluence.com. And my podcast is called ‘The Book Marketing Action Podcast.’
One quick note for your readers, when they do choose to buy my book, one of the things that they’ll do is unlock a free course that I built full of additional resources that wouldn’t fit in the book. So I don’t know if you noticed this, Joanna, but at the end of every chapter of my book, there’s a QR code. And when you scan the QR code, you get prompted with a quick survey. Once you’ve done the quick survey, you can sign up with a login and you can access the course and all the free resources.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Becky. That was great.
Becky: I loved being with you. Thank you, Joanna.