2023 is in full swing and with it comes a whole host of new approaches to book marketing. We’re seeing media outlets revert back to in-person interviews following COVID-19 and indie bookstores taking a turn in the spotlight. A renewed focus on connecting directly with readers has made a huge impact on book sales in the wake of BookTok and influencer marketing. It’s a whole new world and below are 5 marketing trends to help you navigate it:
1. Authenticity Over Production Quality
After TikTok blew up in popularity over the past few years, many social media platforms adjusted to include more opportunities for short-form videos. Readers began posting video recommendations and reviews for books not just on TikTok, but on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and even their personal blogs as well. It didn’t just stop there either! Many authors have been able to grow their brands by posting brief 1-3 minute videos directly addressing their target audiences to share expertise and takeaways from their books.
With this new video focus, many are feeling a pressure to hire teams of videographers and social media managers to help create video content, but I’m here to tell you that it’s unnecessary! According to HubSpot’s 2022 U.S. Consumer Trends Report, 78% of consumers say that it's more important for a marketing video to be authentic and relatable than to be polished with high-quality video and audio. After all, you’re connecting with people who are following you for YOU. When all else fails, be yourself and people will continue to want to get to know you and learn from you.
2. Amazon Best-Seller Campaigns Replacing Many Other Best-Seller Campaigns
As of December 13, 2022, the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list is on hiatus. This is following some juicy articles exposing the New York Times’ process for their best-seller list. None of this is particularly new to publishing professionals who have attempted to crack the code of these lists for decades. But now that authors and booksellers are learning how the sausage gets made, they’re starting to question the integrity of these lists. On top of this best-seller campaigns come at a steep price often requiring that the author hires an intermediary company to facilitate distribution and book sales to make it to the top 100.
At the same time that all of this is happening, Amazon is continuing to refine their algorithm. Their best-seller status updates hourly and is a result of real-time interaction with the book page and sales. Authors can make it to the top 100 of an Amazon category simply by sending out a newsletter with a live link to the book page or posting on social media which are much more time and cost effective endeavors. More and more digital advertising agencies are beginning to offer Amazon best-seller campaigns that serve to promote book sales on and off Amazon itself and these campaigns are leading to more consistency in sales and growth of the author’s brand at the same time. I predict that we’ll see quite a few more “Amazon Best-Seller” stickers on book covers in the near future.
3. Consumer Reviews Making Headway in Promotion & Advertising
Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing and that continues to be true year after year. In fact, 92% of consumers trust suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. Not surprising. What is a bit surprising is that 88% of people trust reviews written by other consumers as much as recommendations from friends and family. With that in mind, it’s crucial that authors utilize those consumer reviews in everything they do.
Romance and other genre fiction authors are already leading the charge by incorporating consumer reviews into their social media promotions. Take a look at Katee Robert or Anthony Delauney for example. Not only are they reusing content from their book pages, but they’re able to utilize reviews with keywords that will appeal to their target audiences. Incorporating these reviews into their promotional efforts will also encourage their followers to post reviews in hopes that they’ll get reshared! If you’re not looking to create graphics like the examples above, it can even be as simple as hitting retweet/reshare/repost on a social media review or recommendation post and tagging the original poster. Voila!
4. Audiobook Production Becoming A Necessity
Audio content is on the rise! As more and more people are leaving their houses and going back to their office commutes and in-person activities, they’re leaning towards audio to consume their news and media. 73% of the U.S. population 12+ have listened to online audio in the last month.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that audiobooks are gaining in popularity as well. Now that it’s taking longer to print physical books due to production delays, the timeline for publishing is lengthening, offering publishers and authors more time to produce more content. It’s becoming more usual to see audio editions of a book being published at the same time or a month or two out from the print and ebook editions which is a big shift from the former 6-month to a year delay. I predict we’ll see more publishers recommending an audio format for authors moving forward.
5. Observations that Niche Markets Are Impactful
My boss, Andrea Kiliany Thatcher, loves to say that niche media often has more impact on book sales than the top tier media everyone is after. Just think, The New York Times has about 644M unique views per month on their website. That’s a great number for impressions, but let’s ask some follow-up questions. Of those 644M views, how many are interested in books? Now, how many of those interested in books are interested in your genre? How many of those interested in your genre are interested in your book? How many of those interested in your book are actively looking to buy new books? The number continues to shrink.
In comparison, when a book review is posted to a genre specific outlet, we can determine that most of its followers will not only be interested in your genre, but they’ll be actively looking for book recommendations to add to their reading lists. Having The New York Times on your book jacket may be a feat, but it’s much less likely to result in sales than a review in a niche journal or blog. For that reason, we’re seeing a lot of publicity efforts for fiction shift towards outlets and brands with an engaged following as opposed to a large following and authors’ wallets are happier for it.
The publishing industry is rapidly learning to adapt as new technologies become available and consumers tell us what they’re looking for. The best advice I can give you is to keep an ear to the ground as you go by following industry newsletters and professionals who share their observations throughout the year. Who knows what will come up next? Wishing you and your books the best in 2023!