An author is the CEO of their own business. However, they’re also creating the product, performing quality control, marketing, doing accounting — the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming to wear so many hats, which is where hiring an author assistant can help — especially if the assistant’s goal is to help increase book sales.
Let’s agree on a few things that boost book sales:
1. Connecting with readers on platforms the author controls. The top three include:
- The author’s website
- The author’s newsletter
- In-person events
Most other channels authors spend time and energy on are platforms that belong to someone else. Facebook could collapse tomorrow and all those lovingly-crafted posts would disappear.
- Creating and implementing a marketing plan
- Running ad campaigns
- Being active on social media
3. Writing more books. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “frontlist sells backlist.”
As an assistant, I manage all of #1 and #2 for my author clients. Regular projects I take on include setting up speaking events, updating websites, building and writing copy for newsletters, creating and executing marketing plans for book releases, scheduling social media posts, and a variety of other tasks.
This gives authors more time for #3: writing more books. Let’s break this down mathematically:
- Let’s say an author hires an assistant for 15 hours/month: 15 hours per month x 12 months = 180 hours per year
- Let’s also say that author is able to write at a rate of 1,000 words/hour: 180 hours per year x 1,000 words per hour = 180,000 extra words per year
There may be other variables that I’m not including in this equation, but if an author chooses to write during the time freed up by hiring an author assistant, they can potentially write 1-3 additional titles per year.
To give you a better idea of how an author assistant can help increase book sales, here are three ways I’ve helped my author clients grow their reach and build buzz for their books:
1. Develop Marketing Plans
The clients that use my skills best typically include me when building their marketing plan for a new release. We brainstorm ideas for giveaways, fun interactions with the fans, preorder incentives, and different ways we can reach our goal: Get as many people as possible to buy the book.
Together, we create an organized promotional plan. Here’s a PR calendar for On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins.
Thanks to its color-coded glory, we know which of us is in charge of each marketing activity, when each item will be published, and when each giveaway starts and ends.
You can see that we have something going on almost every single day. But when you’re doing a big marketing push, it’s important to publish plenty of non-marketing posts on social media as well. At the 2016 Romance Writers of America convention, Rachel Hollis’s workshop revealed that social media should be used to create an emotional connection with readers. For every “ask” (meaning: “buy my book” or “come see me on tour”) you should have three non-promotional content posts. This could include things like cooking and DIY tips, fun images, questions, or online quizzes.
2. Run Fun Giveaways
Giveaways are a great way to build buzz for a book, and I helped Elizabeth Hoyt run a giveaway for her latest release, Duke of Pleasure, the 11th book in the Maiden Lane series. It features the return of the “Ghost of St. Giles,” a Batman-like hero that had previously been played by three male characters. In this novel, the fourth character disguised as the Ghost was also… dun dun dun… a woman! Being part of a long series gave us many opportunities to have fun with fans who have already read the series, while also bringing in new readers.
Here’s how the giveaway was detailed in our marketing plan:
Giveaway: Which Ghost?
Dates: 10/12 – 11/23
Goal: Increase visibility and refresh memories re: the Ghost(s) of St. Giles
Plan: Run a giveaway leading up to the Duke of Pleasure’s release. Post one graphic on specific dates with a trivia question, and declare one winner for each graphic.
Prize: Backlist book of the winner’s choice.
List of graphics: Which Ghost…
- Invaded the heroine’s bedroom to look for his ring? – Maximus (post on 10/12Was nearly shot by his wife? – St. John (post on 10/19)
- Fought a duel in crowded theater? – Winter (post on 10/26)
- Sprung an inmate from Bedlam? – Maximus (post on 11/2)
- Saved a pirate from hanging? – Winter (post on 11/9)
- Was stabbed by his wife? – St. John (post on 11/16)
- Saved a former soldier and then stole kiss from him? – ALF (post on 11/23)
In addition to helping organize this plan, I created the graphics, picked the random winners, and shipped the prizes. Canva is a great resource for easily creating graphics.
3. Promote New Releases
One of the best tools you have for selling a book is the book itself. For Leslie Langtry’s Movie Night Murder release, we debuted “sneak peeks” of the book on a regular schedule.
Leslie and I also have bimonthly phone calls set up to check in and discuss: “What are our goals for the year and how are we progressing towards achieving them?” I provide organization in the form of keeping up with the plan, executing some of the tasks on the list, but most importantly providing accountability. It’s much harder to procrastinate when you know you’re going to have to report your progress every two weeks. In 2016, Leslie’s goal was to hit the USA Today bestseller list and I’m happy to report that she did — three times!
4. Perform Research & Try New Marketing Ideas
An author assistant can help identify new marketing strategies that can help drive sales and reach new readers. I’m in charge of my own continuing education, and there are two primary ways I get new ideas.
Read articles with great marketing tips. When I read an article outlining new marketing strategies, I can apply those across all my clients. What’s that you say, BookBub? Running a giveaway is a great way to increase BookBub followers? I’m on it!
See what’s working for everyone else. For a long time I’ve said that my strategy is to see what everyone else is doing and then figure out how to do it better. As an author, you’re (probably) only doing marketing for one person: you! An author assistant gets to work with multiple authors across different target readerships, and can try out many different strategies.
For Kristan Higgins, we created Playbuzz quizzes to promote the On Second Thought release. I got this idea by spying on the incomparable Julia Quinn, whose marketing plan for the latest book in her Bridgertons series must have truly been a thing of beauty. Check out her #8WeeksofBridgertons campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
The Bottom Line
Author assistants do the things. Maybe these are things that authors don’t know how to do, or maybe they’re things authors simply don’t want to do. When someone else is doing the things, authors can use that extra time to write more books.
Authors, the number one piece of advice I can give you is to create a plan. You only have so much time and energy, so work with intention. If you have an assistant, keep them in the loop. A great assistant will keep your goals in mind and help you reach them.
If you’re ready to work towards your goals with greater focus and intention, you might want to know about my short weekly newsletter with tips and tricks to help authors reduce stress, get organized, and learn to use their time more efficiently. Sign up here!
The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BookBub.
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