If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve learned about the “easy” parts of publishing. The hard part is getting people to read your book! This chapter will give you some (very brief) pointers on how to approach marketing and selling your book.
Book Marketing Resources
Once it’s in bookstores, you can market your book in numerous ways.
Here are a few of the strategies self-published authors have employed successfully to promote their books:
- Email marketing
- Author website and/or blog
- Social media strategy
- Search, SEO and metadata
- Reviewers / rankings
- In-person events such as book signings and book fairs; press coverage
- Build a brand blogging
- Pre-sales / pre-marketing / crowdfunding
Build and Communicate With Your Mailing List
You’ll want to build an opt-in list as you build your audience. One way to do this is to give away a free download of one of your books on your website in exchange for capturing email addresses from a potentially interested readership. You can then use an email marketing platform such as MailChimp to keep that audience apprised of upcoming book releases, author events and promotions — in hopes they buy more of your books.
Create and Update Your Author Website
Having a website, preferably one with the ability to blog, will help you build your brand as an author and enable you to market new and future books. Affordable, easy-to-use platforms such as WordPress, Wix and Squarespace allow you to create and maintain a website yourself, without having to hire a developer. Here’s what to include on your author website.
Leverage Social Media
Have you set up your author handle on the most widely used social media platforms? Even before your book is out, you can send out excerpts and teasers to build followers. Once published, use social media to send people to buy the book in stores and post information you think might be useful to your niche audience. Don’t underestimate the power of paid social either to help you connect with the right audience. Low-cost ads on social platforms like Facebook will let you target the exact demographics of readers who would be interested in your book. Or, use Instagram to connect organically with book bloggers.
Optimize Metadata for Search
One of the best ways to market your book is to make sure people find it when they search the bookstores for books on similar topics. To do this, you’ll need to include relevant search terms in your title and subtitle, which are part of your book’s “metadata.” This is what’s known as search engine optimization, which means including terms people would search for to find books in your genre. Also, specify the most appropriate BISAC subject heading for your book so it gets categorized correctly. If people are searching by category, it gives your book more chance of being found in their search. Consider using Amazon’s targeted advertising capabilities to show your book to readers who read similar tomes.
Solicit (Positive) Reviewers and Ratings
Just as best-selling books get more prominent display on bookstore shelves, books with higher sales and more and better reviews are seen by more potential buyers because they rise higher in relevant searches. Grossly simplified, online bookstores determine which books are popular using algorithms that take into account both sales and reviews. So even before you publish, reach out to potential readers who might review and rate your book in hopes of boosting its visibility. Here are some tips on getting reviews prior to launch from book marketing expert Miral Sattar of Bibliocrunch. If you send your book early enough, you can get organic reviews from places such as Foreword. Or, some entities will allow you to pay for reviews before you publish.
Plan a Road Show
Even though your book is now far easier to purchase online with just one click than in decades past, that doesn’t mean you can upload it onto the Internet and expect for it to be found. Don’t neglect the ways authors have long connected with prospective readers in person at book signings, book fairs and more. Plan speaking engagements that will attract potentially interested readers, coordinate book signings at local bookstores or niche events, and attend book fairs and conferences where your book might find a following.
Obtain Media Coverage
Let relevant media outlets know of your book release and events through press releases and advisories that have a local, timely or novel angle. The resulting coverage may help you reach a wider audience.
Build Your Brand Blogging
Blog on your own site to establish yourself as an authority in your book’s subject matter. As you’re building an audience for your own work, reach out to sites that cover similar subjects and offer to be a guest blogger or an expert interviewee for them. That way, you reach an existing audience and broaden your own.
Pre-sell Your Book
Today, it’s easy to pre-sell and pre-market your book. New startups like Unbound and others let you market, crowdfund and take orders for your literary work before you even publish it. Kindle now lets you pre-sell your book too.
Consult the Experts
Don’t limit yourself to these ideas. Check out what a few prolific experts on self-publishing and marketing have to say. These are a few of our favorites:
- Jane Friedman http://janefriedman.com/blog/
- Hugh Howey http://www.hughhowey.com/
- Joanna Penn http://www.thecreativepenn.com/
- Carla King http://selfpubbootcamp.com/
- Chris Brogan http://chrisbrogan.com/
- Emily Craven http://ebookrevolution.com.au/