Marketing to the Tech Generation

The iGeneration. The generation of 250-character tweets, six-second TikToks, and fifteen-second Instagram stories. Generation Z has an estimated attention span of just eight seconds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pay attention. According to Dr. Eliza Filby, “It means that Gen Z are fast processors of information, adept at sifting through what is relevant and what appeals.” How can marketers get Gen Z to decide that their books are worth picking up? Below are three ways to reach Generation Z.

Authenticity

Generation Z has grown up with technology. They’ve never known a world without the Internet, cell phones, and social media. Because of this, they know how to distinguish between real and fake marketing. Authentic interactions between consumers and brands are key. Generation Z wants to know that your book is going to create a real connection with them.

Another point on authenticity: Don’t just focus your efforts on ebooks and online material. Library Journal found that 66.3 percent of individuals in Gen Z prefer reading physical copies of books over ebooks or audiobooks. Just because they are known for being glued to their phones doesn’t mean they don’t want a break from all the noise. Being able to disconnect and have an authentic experience with a physical book is important to them. Dr. Filby believes that books are “a retro product with status and authenticity which counters the on-demand digital world they inhabit.” Marketers would be smart to jump on this trend.

Human Equality

Generation Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, according to a Pew Research Center report. This is shown through the way they value inclusivity and equality. They unite behind sexual orientation, gender, and racial equality. Unlike Millennials, they did not grow up with Harry Potter, although many in this generation are still as enthusiastic about it as Millennials are. Instead, they grew up with The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson. The worlds they read about as children spread messages of diversity and courage to stand up for what they believe is right. This has translated into their personal and social lives. Standing behind movements that make a difference is an important marketing strategy—but remember, it has to be authentic. They will know if you are just doing it for show. Look into publishing books with varied characters from all different backgrounds, not just from the dominant paradigm. Representation is an important aspect of their lives because each person in their network of friends and family are unique, and they want to see stories that reflect their real lives.

Trust

Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to market a product, and this kind of marketing doesn’t have to be face-to-face. Social media is how Generation Z connects with friends and family. Social media also gives marketers a chance to show them new books that they may enjoy. However, the key here is to get your book into the hands of someone they trust. Influencer marketing is a great way to start. It’s a lot harder for brands to relate to a Gen Z-er than for an actual person to relate. Relatability is important because it builds trust. However, being relatable means something different for everyone, especially in the diverse world of Gen Z. Read more about what Generation Z is reading in this article from Book Riot.

Many have criticized younger generations for their inability to step away from their phones and step into “real life.” But this generation’s technological savvy gives them the ability to filter through information quickly to find what is most relevant, and their network of friends reaches across the world because of social media. Underestimating them or treating them like Millennials would be a mistake for marketers. Generation Z is looking for real connections in a world full of inauthenticity. Books have the ability to provide that. Books offer a tangible experience and allow their readers to escape from the screen, at least for a little while.

6 Tips to Help Authors Reach Niche Audiences

Authors have heard the same things over and over again on how to market their books: you must be on social media, you must be a big fan of your genre, you must create a dedicated fan base, etc. And while that’s all solid advice, most of it is geared toward reaching a general readership. Depending on what you’re writing, there are many more opportunities to grow your readership and visibility. The following tips are ultimately meant for authors writing in niche genres—we’re talking knitting books, self-help books, cookbooks, fitness books, anything directed at a very specific market—but any author could find ways to implement this advice.

  1. Find Community
    This idea isn’t new, but authors of niche genres can take advantage of built-in communities interested in their topics. In other words, there is often a dedicated community with a shared interest in the topic as a whole, rather than just the book genre. For example, an author of a knitting book will find a huge knitting community in local knitting groups and yarn stores. Find your community and become an active member by attending and hosting events. A great resource to find your community is Meetup.com. Once you start attending community events, people will get to know you and want to support your work, especially because it will be something they’re interested in.
  2. Make the Most of Your Social Media
    Being active on social media is important. Just as you should find a community in person, you should also engage with related communities online. But don’t try to split your energy between every social media platform. Figure out which ones members of your target market use the most. Visual genres like travel, fitness, craft, and cooking will likely have more engagement on Instagram than on Twitter. Focus your energy on the platform that will allow you to best represent your work and to reach the widest audience.
  3. Host Events
    We’ve all heard about book signings. Although they can work to draw in readers, you could also find success (and make a little extra money) by hosting other types of events. You could, for example, host a workshop, retreat, or class. Not only will your fans pay to attend, but you may also get new readers to buy your book. All the niches discussed in this post are rife with possibilities to increase your visibility, connect with readers, and bolster your income.
  4. Focus on Small Influencers
    Now that the internet makes it easy to find a niche community, focusing on these small corners of the market is more and more profitable. According to a recent article on the Author Marketing Experts website, micro-influencers—or people with small but dedicated followings—have a lot of market power. So rather than trying to get your book reviewed by a big blogger, find a smaller one who fits your niche perfectly and has engaged fans. Once you start attending community events, people will get to know you and want to support your work, especially because it will be something they’re interested in.
  5. Cross-Promotion
    With niche publishing, there’s often more room for cross-promotion. Try partnering with a small business in your area, where you can offer a discount on your book and another product when the two are purchased together. Maybe you wrote a cookbook about baked goods, and a local tea shop wants to sell their new breakfast tea. You could create a gift set, selling your cookbook with their tea in their shop.
  6. Sell in Specialty Stores
    You’ll see niche books for sale all the time in specialty stores, like a museum gift shop, craft store, gallery, coffee shop, etc. Niche books often fit specialty stores perfectly, both because their topics are relevant to the stores and because they appeal to potential buyers who did not come into the store expecting to buy a book. That’s why selling in specialty stores can be very lucrative. Though publishers often get books into these stores, authors can help find and make those connections.

In many ways, marketing a niche book can be easier than marketing a book directed at a more general readership, especially when you know how to take advantage of the strengths of niche publishing. And authors play a central role in locating their communities and creating opportunities to get their books into the hands of readers. Remember that authors can often make more money by selling their books to people in their lives than by going through traditional retailers.

Marketing to Libraries: Why It’s a Good Idea

Libraries seem to be one of the most underrated marketing opportunities that many publishers tend to pay less attention to than they should. Something about libraries gives the impression that marketing to libraries is more of a by-product of publishing books rather than a highly profitable use of marketing manpower. The reality is that libraries are a $5 billion market that is totally worth putting time and effort into.

Many publishers buy into the diverse myths about libraries and even librarians that, when we actually look at the facts, are completely unwarranted, and keep these companies from really taking advantage of a great source of revenue and even advertisement.

One of the misconceptions of marketing to libraries is that libraries only buy one copy of a book at time. Publishers decided that the sale of one book is not worth the effort it takes to get the library to buy the book. However, the truth is a different story. Libraries most often buy multiple copies of a book. Indeed, the more popular they believe a title will be, the more copies they will buy. This also goes for reference material; it is a common practice for libraries to buy at least two copies: one for their reference section and one a general circulation copy.

Because circulation copies of books are often destroyed after a period of time (some shorter than others) libraries have to constantly restock their supply of books as they come back damaged from patrons. As a result there is long term revenue coming from these libraries as they continue to replace damaged books. As a bonus, libraries are not subject to the return policy that is often so devastating for publishers.

Many publishers worry that selling to libraries will reduce their sales in bookstores and direct sales, but past experience shows different. Often, when a book does well in the libraries, this will drive bookstores to buy more copies. Let us not forget those book buyers who like to, in a way, test drive books before buying them from a store. If they like the book, or the first book in a series, they are more likely to go buy it from a bookstore so they can have their own copy.

Libraries also provide a great advertising service to publishers who reach to this market. While some believe that the only books that get reviewed in library publications are those printed by large publishers, many librarians work to find books from small publishers as well. They see even-handed reviewing between big trade publishers and small presses to be beneficial, not just for the industry, but for the library as well. The more information and knowledge they can have of the current state of publishing the better, and reviewing books is one way of doing this.

Not to mention the sheer amount of books that libraries often put on display. The best part about it is that they are not all books from large publishers, nor are they always brand new books. Often, libraries will display books that go with whatever holiday is coming up, old favorites, and sometimes their own personal favorites.

In the end, it’s a pretty solid marketing plan to make sure that libraries are included in a publishers efforts in selling and promoting their books. Especially with the unfortunate decline of bookstore sales, publishers will find the libraries have now become one of their greatest assets for the success of their press as long as they are willing to put in a little extra effort to reach out to them.

Replacing The Myths About Marketing to Libraries on the Combined Book Exhibit website is a great source for those worried about going into this area of marketing and debunks many of the myths that surrounds this lucrative market.