Book marketing seems a bit like an uphill climb for many, for others it’s a shock to the system. I mean you really thought your work was done when the book was finished, didn’t you?
The thing is, no matter how you publish – whether you’re an indie author or picked up by a larger publishing house, you still have to market your own book. But the question I often get is how to market a book – in particular, how to market your book.
This article is designed to help you dig into some things that I feel are missing from a lot of how-to book marketing pieces. Because many times authors need more of a starting point, which I hope this piece is.
In this article we’re going to look at the first steps, setting the stage, and building your platform. This may seem basic but trust me when I say that without these pieces, nothing else you do will have any impact.
Let’s get started!
Identify Your Target Market: Book marketing is confusing, with lots of options and marketing choices. So it’s normal for an author to feel overwhelmed and attempt to point and click their way to success. The problem is, we’re often headed down the wrong marketing path.
Not all readers respond to the same book marketing outreach. For some genres Instagram works well, for others it’s blogger reviews or interviews, and some authors spend all their time on LinkedIn. Knowing your market will not just save you a ton of money, but also a lot of time. So where do you begin? Well, start first with our reader profile, which will help you dig into some very specific nuances related to your readers’ likes and dislikes, and creative ways to reach them.
Next, get to know other/similar authors in your genre. Start by doing a search of your genre + author (so if you’ve written a mystery book, your search string would be: mystery + author) and see who comes up on the first, second, and third pages. Note: when you do this exercise, sometimes you’ll find that page one is cluttered with ads or publishing houses that serve your genre, you’ll want to skip past those and look for organic results and authors who are getting great visibility on Google. Why does this matter? Well, if an author is getting a good rank on Google, they’re probably doing all the right things. Meaning they’re spending their book marketing equity in all the right places.
As you begin to research them, see where they are in social media. Are they blogging and if so, what are they blogging about? Do they have a video channel and if they do, what’s their content like there? All of these things will start to create a trail for you, a path to follow – and it will also quickly show you what to eliminate. Do this for 4-5 authors and you’ll quickly start to see some similarities in their various areas of focus. This will really help to kickstart your marketing efforts.
Get a Website: Maybe this book marketing tip seems too basic and perhaps you already knew this – great! Because surprisingly many authors do not. They assume that Facebook or Amazon will serve as their landing page. This isn’t good for a variety of reasons. First off, you want to build your brand and you want to give readers a place to find you. Sure, they can find you on a social media platform or Amazon – but what if you’re directing readers to your Facebook page and one day it disappears. What happens then? I’m not suggesting that Facebook is going to pull your page or anything. What I am saying is that sending readers to a landing page that doesn’t belong to you is a bit like crop sharing. You never really own the land you’re spending so much time working.
You can get a website pretty inexpensively and (in some cases) even using sites like Squarespace to self-design a site. But if you’re ready to hit this hard and fast, I recommend doing a good website – maybe not with all the bells and whistles but certainly something that can be expanded upon as your career grows, you write more books, and begin to gain traction as an author. A good author website may be one of your best book marketing tools.
Be on at least one social media platform (but don’t feel like you need to be on all of them).
Start a Newsletter: Maybe you don’t have anything to say or have no idea what you’d put in a newsletter – or maybe you simply don’t have a list. All of those reasons are invalid. You need to start building a newsletter, even if you don’t start sending folks emails for a few months. Why? Because you should have an easy and efficient way to contact people who have read your book. In short, a newsletter is a great book marketing tool. Social media isn’t a great way to do that. It’s getting harder and harder to get seen on social, so important messages to your readers often get missed.
If you have a website but no way for anyone to sign up for a newsletter, that’s a good place to start. Add a sign-up button on your website and offer readers something in exchange for their email address. Maybe it’s a few chapters of your yet-to-be-released book, or maybe once a month you randomly pull a name for a chance to win a $5 Amazon or Starbucks gift card. Don’t think people will want a $5 gift card? You’d be surprised. It’s an inexpensive way to drive more readers to sign up for your list.
Whatever you decide to offer readers, as I said earlier: a newsletter is a great book marketing tool and an even better way for you to connect with readers, and build your relationship with them!
Find, or Subscribe to at Least One (but not more than five) Book Marketing Newsletters: It’s good to stay informed but there’s also a stage of overwhelm that comes from getting too much book marketing input. Find a few reliable sources and subscribe to their book promotion newsletters. A good newsletter is heavy on information and light on promotion. If you’re always being sold this or that, click unsubscribe and find another resource. I have a few of my favs in the resources section of this blog!
Don’t Do Ads Unless: When it comes to book marketing it’s tempting to just run a series of Facebook ads and call it a day. But ads for the sake of ads isn’t a great idea. If you do run ads, make sure that you are driving possible readers to something other than your book. I’m not saying *not* to promote your book in your ad, but there should be some special reason that you’re pushing it. A discounted eBook promo is always a good idea, or some other limited time offer. If you don’t incentive these ads, your clicks may be night but your sales will be low – so you wind up spending a lot of money on ads that aren’t actually selling.
The Biggest How to Market Your Book Secret: Do One Thing a Day. Effort adds up, and incremental effort adds up faster than you might think. Do one thing a day to market your book, even if it’s just sending an email, following up with a blogger, or fine-tuning your pitch. You’ll be surprised how quickly these small efforts add up to big results.
A lot of times authors want to carve out half of their weekend and dedicate it to book marketing. That’s great, but it’s also a great way to burn yourself out. So doing this once is fine, maybe even twice, but setting this as a goal will get old very quickly. There’s a link to our book marketing planner in at the bottom of this blog post, it’s a free planner to help you get started!
Set Small, Incremental Goals: This goes hand in hand with the previous book marketing tip – setting small, attainable goals is a great way to keep the momentum moving. And you can have big dreams and big goals, but there are probably a dozen other things that need to happen before you can hit that goal. Breaking big goals down into smaller, snackable pieces is a great way to keep yourself motivated to keep the book marketing wheels turning.
Stay Consistent in your Book Marketing Efforts: Maybe this seems like a crazy thing to add to a blog about how to market your book – but here’s the thing: consistency will change the trajectory of your book marketing efforts. A lot of what I find is lacking in many campaigns is consistency. Whether it’s consistently posting on social media – so creating particular day-themes, like Motivation Monday, Throwback Thursday, etc. or whether it’s consistently writing blog content, pitching bloggers, etc.
A lot of times what happens with authors is they feel like if they’ve done a book marketing effort two or three times without success, they need to move on. Well, maybe you are doing the wrong thing – but there’s also the chance you haven’t done enough of the right thing?
When it comes to how to market your book, and especially when you’re starting out – it’s really more about the tools than the tactics. Yes, it’s important to do the things that matter – which is what I shared in the first paragraph, but it’s also important to have a website, a game plan, and other strategic book marketing pieces in place to help you not only in your book promotion short term, but long term as well. The longer you can stay active with your own author marketing, the bigger your chances are of gaining the kind of success you’ve always dreamed of.
Great (free) Newsletter Resources:
- Jane Friedman’s newsletter – free and paid (I especially love the paid one): https://www.janefriedman.com/
- Amy Collins newsletter is packed full of great information. I devour every issue! https://paper.li/f-1382561671#/technology
- Alliance of Independent Authors has a great newsletter, but also classes and a podcast! https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/
- IBPA they are a paid membership, but they have a bunch of great information on their website, and a fabulous conference: ibpa-online.org
- The BookLife Report is a division of Publisher’s Weekly and offers a great free newsletter and lots of other content! booklife.com
- Bookworks is an association packed with helpful information for new authors, you can sign up for their newsletter here: https://www.bookworks.com/
A Few Other Great Publishing People to Follow on Twitter!
Frances Caballo @CaballoFrances
Mike Sahno @MikeSahno
Maureen Crisp @craicer
Anita Dow @GoAnitaDow
Ruth Harris @RuthHarrisBooks
K.M. Weiland @KMWeiland
Sandra Beckwith @sandrabeckwith
Elizabeth S Craig @elizabethscraig
Anne R Allen @annerallen
Resources and Downloads
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