Take it from me, marketing your book and feeling comfortable talking about it is hard work, but if you adjust your promotional mindset, promoting your book will come much more naturally!
I had another really eye-opening conversation on Instagram Live with my dear friend Jennifer Canzoneri, Senior Marketing Director at BenBella Books, who this time, spilled all her tips about how to adjust your mindset when it comes to promoting your book, from getting over imposter syndrome, getting excited about your work, and why finding a mentor along the way can help. Jennifer has worked on hundreds of book campaigns throughout her 16 years at BenBella Books, so she definitely knows what it takes to adjust your mindset to successfully promote your book!
If you’re an aspiring or current author, keep reading for Jennifer’s expert tips to get your promotional mindset right!
- A: Why do authors need to adjust their mindset?
- J: There’s a stat that life is 75% what we tell ourselves, so think about what you’re telling yourself about your books. Is what you’re saying coming from a place of nervousness, hesitation, or unworthiness? You have to reframe your own mindset before you start promoting your book because you have to believe in yourself before anyone else.
- A: How can authors get excited about promoting their book?
- J: If you don’t talk about your book with excitement and enthusiasm, others won’t feel excited or enthusiastic! Sometimes it can be scary to share the content from your book, especially if it’s a memoir or personal story, but instead, if you can look at your book as a stand-alone thing that someone will enjoy and find helpful, it will keep you from wondering what someone will think of you on page 12.
- A: What do you see happens to authors when they get vulnerable?
- J: You’ve already done the most vulnerable thing which is writing your book, but sharing it is simply forming relationships. And how do you form relationships? By being vulnerable. When you share your vulnerability through your marketing, you’ll become someone that readers want to connect with on a deeper level.
- A: What is your advice for authors to get over imposter syndrome?
- J: Again, marketing is relationship-building, so look at promoting yourself as building relationships with the right people, but remember your book isn’t for everyone. You want to find the right people who will resonate with it most. People invest in authors just as if not more than the books they’re reading, and you want that experience with those people who care.
- A: What I’m hearing is that you don’t have to cast a wide net. It’s about who you’re serving and who your ideal reader is. Is that right?
- J: Yes! It’s important to get clear about that. It’s also important to shift and pivot to a new audience if you’re getting feedback that one audience is resonating with your book more than your intended audience. If you can narrow down three core audiences who might resonate with your book, it will make things more simplified.
- A: Some people think PR is the end all be all of marketing your book, but something you always say is “marketing always starts with you”. Let’s talk about that.
- J: You can outsource and delegate to others to help you with your book marketing tasks, but if you remove yourself completely, it’s going to fall apart because no one will be as invested in your book’s success as you. I think that stepping back and having a publicist or marketer do all your work actually comes from fear and imposter syndrome. You can also try investing in an assistant who can really get to know you and learn what’s best for your book.
- A: You mention that a marketing mentor is a good idea. What is a marketing mentor?
- J: I think that mentors are really important for a couple of different reasons. One is that life is not linear in terms of your goals, and a mentor can help fill in those holes. A mentor can also help you step back and see what might be missing.
- A: What do we look for in a marketing mentor? You’re mine (obviously!), but is talking to authors with books in similar genres a good idea?
- J: I think your idea is a great one! Your agent might know if there’s an author you can talk to. Or maybe there’s someone in your community or a friend who’s really well-connected. It doesn’t have to be someone with marketing experience believe it or not. It can just be someone whose strength is your weakness. Start by thinking about the area you really want to strengthen most and go from there.
- A: What about the timeline for all of this? When do authors need to find a marketing mentor, start marketing, and adjust their promotional mindset?
- J: It’s never too early and it’s never too late, but I do think there’s a sweet spot. Start when you have something to share, whether it’s a pre-order link or an early copy, which should be about four months before launch. The mindset and mentorship work should start 6-8 months in advance. Get your mindset, meditation, and intentional practice right, and do this for maybe 30 minutes each day. By the time you start pitching yourself, you’ll be in a good place.
- A: I love that you brought up meditation! I would also suggest journaling your intentions for the book! It helps me immensely.
- J: Yes, and, setting goals! If you set a sales goal, and it’s your only goal and you don’t meet it, the whole campaign will flop and you’ll be completely dissatisfied. Set a bunch of different kinds of goals instead. What authors do you want to connect with? What kind of audience do you want to connect with? How do you want to feel after this? Do you want to feel energized, excited, and inspired to write more? It’s also more important to weave in time and space for the process, and you need a lot of patience for marketing to do its job.
- A: Yes! Marketing is a marathon! Authors forget their books don’t become best-selling overnight!
- J: Yes! Again, marketing starts with you. If you’re frantic about what your publicist is or isn’t doing for you, remember there’s a lot in your control that you can be doing! Ask yourself what you can do in the moment while you’re waiting for answers.
- A: I am a huge believer in strong affirmations. I love the affirmation, “I am in control”.
- J: Yes, when you start to feel out of control you feel really defensive and snap back at people who are there for you and are brought in to help you. If you can shift to saying “I trust the people who are surrounding me” and realize there’s so much you can be doing, too, you’ll feel like you’re part of the success and you can help drive the train.
- A: I want to go back to what you said about “sales should not be your only goal”. I always say your goal should also be to spread your message and help others. What do you think?
- J: Right! It’s all about thinking about the finish line and every step to getting there. Keep your sales goal in mind, but realize that every step to getting there isn’t just about sales, and if you’re only focused on the sales, it can feel really easy to blame others instead of thinking about what you missed.
- A: Any parting thoughts?
- J: The most important thing is what we said at the very beginning: believe in your own message! Believe you were intended to spread your message, understand that your vulnerability doesn’t stop with writing your book, and surround yourself with people who understand that vulnerability. You’ve said that as a publicist who works with authors, you ask yourself, “would I want to read this book for fun?” I love that! It’s so important that anyone working on your book are people who believe in your message and who you actively trust. It might take time to find them, but they’re out there!
CLICK HERE to watch the full IG LIVE with me and Jennifer!