When it comes to book marketing strategies, things change quickly. A lot of it is because there are so many books being published each day — 4500 to be exact. So, ways to promote your book shift and change.
We all want to know which are the best book marketing strategies to sell more books and all want to be working smarter, and not harder.
So not only do I want to share some insight into marketing in the new year, but I also want to give you tips for long-term success.
And if you’re really serious about taking things up a level, not just knowing what to do but how to do it, I’d love to chat about a collaboration. Contact me and let’s be sure you understand the best approach for your unique author brand.
Now let’s get started with 20 smart book marketing strategies for 2020:
Spend less time on social media.
The reason I say less is because I’m betting that not all of your book marketing time on social media is productive.
And this means you probably aren’t doing all the right things, or maybe you’re just doing too much of something that isn’t leveraging any visibility.
If none of your posts are getting likes, shares, or comments, then maybe it’s time to reassess what you’re posting and where.
Book marketing is about communication and if your posts aren’t driving that, there’s something wrong.
This is a great time to assess your various platforms and see where you really need to be! Being everywhere that matters is more important than being everywhere.
If you’re unsure which platform that is, or you haven’t fully committed to using social media to promote your books yet, take our quick and helpful social media quiz I designed – it’s listed in the Resources section at the end.
Commit to Publishing Consistently.
In order to be successful in publishing (and figuring out the best book marketing strategies) you need to have more than one book.
And your books don’t have to be full length novels but they do need to be published works.
You can do shorter books (eBooks work great for this), novellas, workbooks, journals, and even white papers work if they’re long enough.
How long is long enough? Fifty pages at a minimum and the content needs to be good, entertaining or helpful.
Why do you need more books? Because more books are actually, and surprisingly, easier to sell than just one!
When you market one book (this is especially true for books in a series), you drive attention to all the books in your library, not just one – and this helps you sell more books.
It’s sort of like having multiple storefronts, same theory, only with books.
And if you plan your investment right, you don’t have to spend a ton on each book. Editing yes, excellent cover yes, but none of this has to cost you a fortune. Though remember, publishing is a business and as such, you should plan to make an investment before you see a return on this investment.
Having multiple books will help you reach your book sales and marketing goals much quicker.
Price your books to sell.
Never, ever price your books in such a way that they are no longer competitive with their markets.
If you want to sell more books, price them so the audience will buy.
The easiest way to gauge where you should be, check the bestseller list. Yes, some household names can demand a bit more, but if that’s not you, don’t get ahead of yourself.
Price yourself with the market and you’ll get in more hands.
Make sure your cover is ready to wow.
Genres and topics generally demand a certain “look” and we know this because a thriller cover and a cover for a holiday romance are vastly different.
The same is true for a text-book vs. a self-help book.
Be aware that you need to “match” your genre, otherwise your book will seem like an odd-ball book.
And readers do judge a book by its cover, so having something that mirrors others in the genre is not only helpful, it’s a must if you want to sell more books.
Plus, with the increase in online shopping, you have to remember that your book cover needs to make an impact as a tiny thumbnail on an Amazon search. Wow. That changes things, doesn’t it? A good book cover designer will understand this and help you create something that will convert browsers into buyers.
Plan monthly promotions in advance.
The world keeps getting busier and if you don’t plan, it’s easy to forget that book marketing is a conversation with your reader – one month of no marketing means your conversation has stopped, and also likely your sales.
We have a book marketing planner that lists what you can be doing to promote your book every single month – to help take the guessing out of it.
You should never, ever be sitting around thinking: “What should I do now?”
Always have a few book marketing strategies in the hopper. Sometimes people “take a break’ from book marketing to sort of see what happens with the book when they do. This is always a bad idea because books rarely grow or sell organically!
Here’s what happens when you stop marketing your book: nothing.
As I said earlier, book marketing is a conversation and once that conversation stops, so does the visibility of your book. And when I say “always be promoting” I don’t mean that you have to do big, fancy blog tour every month.
Maybe it’s an eBook promotion, reader outreach, or a fun contest on social media, whatever it is, be consistently out there. Small things can add up to big results.
Want your very own monthly planner? Grab one by becoming a newsletter subscriber! Already a subscriber? You’ll get one delivered January 1!
Don’t focus on readers – instead build relationships.
Now, more than ever, you need to be connecting with your reader and building that relationship.
Because the goal isn’t to find the next buyer, it’s to create the next reader – because readers come back and when they do, they might bring a friend. And that’s how books sell. We know that 95% of books are sold by word of mouth (DIgital Book World, 2017) and this word of mouth doesn’t happen by accident, it’s an author working to build relationships with their readers.
Connect with them, share insights with them, treat them like they are part of your exclusive tribe because they are and if they aren’t, they should be.
Start a newsletter list if you don’t have one and do consistent outreach to let your reader know they are always in the forefront of your mind!
Relationship building – turning readers into super fans, is a big term you’re going to hear as we begin the new year. And for good reason. The best way to market your book is with an avid reader base. Start building one now, you’ll be glad you did.
Create more video to share.
With sites like TikTok and the surge of Instagram videos we know that video is big – and it’s next-level marketing. The good news, is it’s also easy to do.
Lots of authors have book trailers, and that’s great. But my preference is always a personal video. Maybe a behind the scenes video, something short thanking your readers, Facebook Live events, or whatever you feel compelled to do. Be sure to include video as one of your marketing tools for 2020.
The Resources section has a link to a quick and simple introduction to the whys and hows of creating video content for your book promotion, with explanations for why it’s so critical for competing in today’s market.
PS Don’t forget to do your Amazon Video Shorts. It’s a fun and easy way to connect with your readers! See tip #8!
Maximize Amazon because it’s free.
Amazon has so many great features that help you promote your book, your brand, and show up better in searches.
One of these is Amazon Author Central, which is a fabulous place for you to extend your brand, yet so few authors actually use it. If you haven’t optimized your Author Central page, now is the time.
And what about adding Amazon Video Shorts to your Amazon book page? It’s easy and free (and video is a big thing now as I mentioned in the prior tip)
I have a few programs that cover all the ins and outs so please, please get in touch with me to learn more.
Everything you can do on Amazon is FREE, so don’t leave those opportunities on the table.
Get that eBook created and promoted.
The idea here is to own as much of the Amazon real estate as you can. Even if your book doesn’t have an eBook market per se (like children’s or maybe a coffee table book), you should still have one.
Another reason for doing this, aside from the real estate part of it are the book marketing strategies you can take advantage of using your eBook that aren’t available to you with only a print book.
Even for those of you who say “My readers don’t read eBooks!” Are you sure? And even if you are 100% sure, why would you give up owning another piece of Amazon real estate? Ebooks are easy to create and even easier to upload. And in less than an hour you could own a brand spanking shiny new parcel of Amazon land. Yes, please!
Make sure your Amazon book page is working for you.
When authors tell me their ads aren’t working, or their book isn’t selling I’ll look at a few things. One is the book cover, the other is the book title and topic. If all of these seem great, then I would put money on the fact that the Amazon book page isn’t as tight as it could be.
Your Amazon book page is your landing page for all the things you’re doing – meaning that while we want readers to go to your website, they’ll often default to your Amazon book page. If this page isn’t optimized with a great book description, lots of white space, bulleted benefits (for non-fiction) an awesome, captivating headline, then you’ve probably got some work to do.
As an author, you may not feel like this is a book marketing strategy, but trust me when I say that it is, and possibly one of the most important things you’ll do. Aside from your book cover, book title, topic, etc.
Readers will often decide in a fraction of a second if they want your book or not — whatever time they spend on your Amazon book page, make it count!
Close the open loops.
This may seem like an odd tip, but bear with me. I was on the phone with an author the other day and she had a bunch of books on Amazon, a great website, and a great brand. So you think she’d be selling books, right? Well, turns out, she wasn’t.
She had books with no letter to the readers (see tip #20), then I discovered she hadn’t set up her Amazon Author Central Page (see tip #8), then she had a website that didn’t really have a goal. It was beautifully branded, but there was no call-to-action, no newsletter sign up, no blog (well, there was one but it wasn’t easy to find).
Essentially she had created this highway with her brand with a bunch of offramps for readers to abandon her message.
Now, more than ever, you want to create a tight loop between your books and your brand.
A letter to readers in your book loops readers back to your website, and a website with a strong call-to-action, loops readers who are interested in you, into your message, keeping them on your website – which is something a blog will also do.
In an age where many of us are driven by distraction, I promise you that if you don’t close the loops on all the book marketing strategies you have out there, it’s going to take a lot longer to build your reader tribe and sell books.
Focus on the individual steps to the bestseller list and more sales.
In order to gain momentum for your book, you must focus on and celebrate the smaller successes. This will add up and lead to bigger ones.
Big, splashy media doesn’t typically get the return most authors think it will. So while you might get an article in a well-known magazine, there’s no guarantee any of those readers will go buy the book. But if you focus on smaller steps, like reaching out directly to readers and getting books in hands, you know what you’re getting for your efforts.
Good book marketing happens one step at a time.
Be Selective when Running Ads.
I used to love doing ads for books, but I’m much more selective than I used to be.
Why? Because an ad for the sake of running an ad isn’t a marketing plan.
I talk to a lot of authors who say “I run Facebook ads” when I ask them what book marketing strategies they’ve been using. And in many cases, this isn’t working. The reason it’s not working is that an ad for the sake of an ad doesn’t really produce. An ad has to have a purpose, beyond selling a book.
For example, let’s say you have a discounted eBook promo you’re doing. Great, run some ads to support that. Maybe you’re doing an event in a particular city. Also a good reason to run ads – and you can narrow your Facebook markets by area, which is a great way to drive more attention to a book event.
I’m not anti-ad, but I am in favor of running them to support another strategy. Consumers are ad-weary, we get blasted with thousands of ads each day. So make yours count.
In terms of ad platforms. Well I’m a huge fan of Amazon ads, if used correctly, can really help to drive exposure to your book.
We’ve also run Bookbub ads (not the pricey book deals, but the actual ads) – which also help to drive attention to a book – and if used selectively, won’t cost you a lot of money to do.
Not sure where to start with Bookbub or Amazon ads? I’ve written a lot about this on my blog and I cover a lot of simple, proven strategies in my Master Amazon Video Series – also linked in the Resources section.
Commit to writing for an established market.
It’s becoming increasingly important to pick a genre and cater to it.
By “cater to it” I mean making sure your cover aligns with the genre, that your book speaks to that genre, and that you actually pick the right genre for your book.
A lot of authors I speak to aren’t clear on their genre. You shouldn’t even be considering publishing unless you know, without question, what genre you’re in!
Book sales only happen when your book is in a clearly defined market. Don’t make the reader try to guess what your book is about or where it belongs because the result will be that they simply won’t buy it.
Part of getting a clear picture of your genre also involves getting a really good understanding of your reader and what makes them tick, and more importantly, what makes them buy the books they choose.
Download my free reader profile brainstorm in the Resources section!
Be a fan of your genre.
Stephen King once said that the best writers are readers. What he means by this is read a lot in your genre. Be a fan. Because fans make better authors. So read in your genre, recommend books in your genre, and network with readers and authors in your genre.
You’ll write better books and be inspired with more unique book marketing strategies as a real fan!
Always think about branding.
One thing that often confuses authors is the term “brand” and that’s why it’s worth mentioning here. Your brand is who you are – it’s really that simple, you just need to get comfortable and creative capitalizing on it.
Everything you put out there is your brand. From the posts you share on Facebook, to the font you use on your website. Everything is a brand. If you go to a networking event, how you show up there is also part of your brand.
Your website, social media, book covers, and everything you put “out there” should be consistent with your brand, your personality, and everything that makes you unique – all the things no one can duplicate.
With shrinking attention spans, it’s more important than ever for authors to be consistent in their branding. Be consistent everywhere and with everything you do. Consistency alone, can make a huge difference in your marketing and the traction your book is getting.
Be sure you’re establishing yourself as a resource.
If you write non-fiction this is insanely important. You have to go beyond the book, you need to blog, use social media, and become a thought leader for your topic so people know you’re a sure thing. Anyone can write one book – but someone who continues to put out information on a topic, is someone the world takes seriously.
If you write fiction this goes back to being a fan of your genre, making book recommendations and networking with other authors is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader for your genre.
Collaborate with other authors and thought leaders.
Collaborations are key because the goal is for all parties to benefit from each other’s networks and fans and social reach.
Fiction authors should share each other’s promotions and recommend and review each other’s books.
Non-fiction authors should welcome guest posts and do interviews with other individuals in their industry because those kinds of collaborations and endorsements add a lot of value to your brand as well – and ideally they’ll reciprocate.
Create more bonus content.
Bonus content and materials that allow readers and fans to further immerse themselves in your brand are really important because it’s unique to you.
They also help keep people on your website longer, they keep readers coming back for more, and it’s a super strategic way for you to be present in their lives when they’re not reading your book.
Character interviews, deleted scenes, free downloads, quizzes, recipes, travel guides, the options are endless and the only requirement is that it relates to your book or your topic, aside from that – the sky is the limit when it comes to working in these book marketing strategies!
And don’t forget a lot of us can pull bonus content and materials from the cutting room floor and repurpose them to get us started – no sense in wasting all those good ideas and creativity.
Grab more easy and fun bonus content ideas through the link in Resources!
Refine that letter in the back of your book.
A few years ago, Goodreads did a study and found that the #1 thing readers want to do at the end of the book is to connect with the reader. Do you have a letter to readers at the end of your book?
I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard me talk about this – and it’s not a one-time strategy. If you have one, great, update it. If you don’t have one, get started.
The letter you put in the back of your book to give readers continued access to your brand, your background, your mailing list, fun promotions, where to find you on social, and unique features about your website is really key to bridging the gap between having that one reader and creating a return buyer. Remember, close the loop. Make sure your readers have a way to get back in touch with you once they’ve finished your book!
Cheers to Smarter Book Marketing Strategies in 2020
I wish you all the very best in the coming year and hope we get to chat at some point. Whether you’re a seasoned author or a first timer, a return client or just starting with us, there’s so much knowledge I’d love to share with you!
Resources and Free Downloads
Which Social Media Platform is Right for You?
Subscribe to Our Newsletter and Get Your Free Planner
How to Amp Up Your Success with Video Content
Master Amazon and Sell More Books Video Series
Download my Reader Profile Brainstorm
Irresistible Bonus Content Ideas and Giveaways
Please use the social share buttons below if you learned something from this post-your shares really help educate other authors, which raises the bar for publishing and gets more books in readers hands!
Just A Note To Say…
…I find that your “20 Smart Book-Marketing Strategies for 2020” reflect both my values and my methods…
…and that this happens so rarely I feel impelled to mention how refreshing it is to see so many sensible suggestions all in one place!
01. Spend less time on social media.
02. Commit to Publishing Consistently.
03. Price your books to sell.
04. Make sure your cover is ready to wow.
05. Plan monthly promotions in advance.
06. Don’t focus on readers; instead, build relationships.
07. Create more video to share.
08. Maximize Amazon because it’s free.
09. Get that eBook created and promoted.
10. Make sure your Amazon book page is working for you.
11. Close the open loops.
12. Focus on the individual steps to the bestseller list and more sales.
13. Be Selective when Running Ads.
14. Commit to writing for an established market.
15. Be a fan of your genre.
16. Always think about branding.
17. Be sure you’re establishing yourself as a resource.
18. Collaborate with other authors and thought leaders.
19. Create more bonus content.
20. Refine that letter in the back of your book.
Elizabeth Adams 🙂
Thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad you found it helpful.
You’re very welcome, Penny.
There’s just one thing you said in ¶20 that
makes me wonder if it might be a misprint:
“A few years ago, Goodreads did a study and found that the #1 thing readers want to do at the end of the book is to connect with the *reader*. Do you have a letter to readers at the end of your book?”
My mind automagically substituted the word *writer* as I was reading it simply because the #1 thing *I* want to do at the end of a book, myself, is connect with the writer!
Elizabeth Adams 🙂
Thanks for your efforts.
Great information. Thank you for sharing.