While most authors are hesitant to market themselves and their books, if this is your career, keep in perspective that your book is the product and all products require a marketing and sales strategy . . . no different than any other business. Marketing is an investment in your career.
The most important aspect of marketing and promoting your book (outside of knowing your audience) is to engage your audience, fans and readers. You can do this via a variety of platforms, many of which we’ve covered in this year’s blog posts and which we will touch on again here.
Who are your readers?
In today's digital world, if you want your book to stand out, you're going to have to step up and get involved in the promotion, which often means communicating directly with your target audience through a variety of channels (online and social media, in-person, through print media, etc.). Get to know your audience! Are they working moms, soccer dads, book clubbers, or glamorous literati? What are your readers reading? And what forums do they use to find new books? Use the intelligence you gather to target your marketing efforts and reach out to those segments.
You can use your established social media presence (even if that’s a Goodreads or Amazon Author Profile) to promote your title. Promotions such as giveaways (available for a fee on Goodreads) are available for FREE on your social media sites. You can setup a giveaway on Instagram or Facebook, for example, by asking your followers to tag your book page (or author page) in a post, follow you, and comment on an Instagram posting. Once they’ve done these things, put their name in a hat and at the end of your giveaway timeframe, send them a direct message and send them their book in exchange for a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.
Blogs & Reviews
You can work with a blog tour company (TLC Book Tours is one we love) to setup a blog tour for reviewers of your work. If you don’t want to pay a service for this help (which is well worth it, in our view, as you get guaranteed reviews and mentions), you can still compile a list of bloggers and book reviewers and email them asking them if they will review your book in exchange for a free copy. They will then usually post the review of your book on their blog, which has lots of followers – which in turn – can become your followers. As we mentioned in a recent blog post about writing for free, you can also contribute articles to relevant magazines or online blog sites, which is another way you can keep raising your author profile.
Find bloggers that will review your book. This can be as simple as googling reviewers based on your genre. Make a list of bloggers that you want to engage for a review and giveaway. For example, here’s a Google search for Historical Fiction Reviewers.
Publicity, author events, and media appearances can also generate awareness for you as an author and connect you with local readers. At each event, you may want to create a gift basket giveaway, with a signed copy of your book, bookmarks, and other merch, in exchange for collecting email addresses. Building a strong email list is a key component in building your followers and reaching your buyers over time. You may also want to consider hiring a publicist. There are lots of book marketing and publicity firms out there – you just need to take some time and look for local agencies in your area that specialize in book publicity. Here’s a great article by book marketing guru Jane Friedman that helps authors understand what to expect when working with a publicist.
Personal selling can be one of the most persuasive selling tools because it allows two-way communication. Consider the following markets:
- Local bookstores
- Trade Associations
- Other non-profits
- Conferences/trade shows/events
- Historical societies
- Tourist destinations
- Farmers market
- Alumni associations
- Churches or other religious organizations
If you are not familiar with networking, start with people you know: friends, family, co- workers, alumni, and neighbors. Then move on to less-familiar people. Again, avoid overtly selling to people in your network; instead, ask them for referrals and to spread the word about your book. When personally networking, begin by introducing yourself and mentioning who referred you.
Keep in mind that readers want to talk with the author. We talked about creating your own individual social media platforms (Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.) and through these you can connect with everyone you know. In these posts, you can write about your book, give readers insider information, and even share other titles that you are reading and that inspired you or are of interest to you.
One great asset you have in your personal network is the ability to ask your contacts to provide reviews for online retailers for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Kobo, iBooks, and Goodreads (or wherever they buy books). If you have professionals and industry experts in your network, offer to give them a book to review in exchange for a free copy. You can also consider paid reviewers such as ForeWord Clarion and Kirkus Indie to get a professional review of your book.
Relax and take stock.
Most importantly, take a break and take a breath. Building your audience is an experience to enjoy and share. It takes time and patience to build an audience as a new author. Word of mouth is the least cost and most effective way we’ve come across to do this, so keep at it. One reader at a time.