How to promote your book
Once you get your baby out into the world, that’s really only the beginning. Now you have to let the world know it exists. Here is some of the marketing wisdom I’ve taken on board:
- Realise it will most likely be up to you, as the author, to drive book sales.
- Have an elevator pitch about your book and yourself. Try to convey what your book is about in a few sentences, and think about how to describe yourself as an author – what you want people to think of when they hear your name.
- The book is the product, the author is the brand. You need to market both and start well ahead of publication date.
- You need both a great story and a good work ethic. Be prepared to take on a number of roles and remember you are now in the book-SELLING business, as well as the book-writing business.
- Brainstorm all the ways you can promote your book, including book trailers, interviews, signings, guest posts, connecting with book clubs, giveaways etc. Work out which ones you are most confident doing. Do those first – and then build up your confidence to do something outside your comfort zone too.
- Keep an eye on other successful authors and be inspired by how they do everything – from their book covers and publicity campaigns to how they communicate with their readers.
- If you are seeking media coverage, remember journalists are not in the book promotion business, they are looking for a newsworthy story. Think of how the story behind your book, its themes or your own life could be of interest to their audience.
- Look for dates on the calendar that tie in with your book. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to promote your sweet romance, or get the word out about your schoolgate comedy for Mother’s Day.
- Do something every day to tell someone about your book.
- In terms of social media, hang out where your target audience hangs out. Familiarise yourself with the do’s and don’t of a particular networking site.
‘The first page sells this book. The last page sells your next book.’ – Mickey Spillane
- Blog tours are a fantastic way to get your name out there. You can either hire a blog tour company or compile your own list of bloggers to send an invitation to. When writing guest posts, pick themes from your book to inspire ideas. Don’t just write a glorified ad for your book. And make sure you fulfil all your requirements on deadline.
- Compile a list of likely reviewers, from bookworm friends to bloggers and top Amazon reviewers. Email them well ahead of the publication date to see if they are interested in a review copy and if so, find out which format – paperback, mobi, epub or PDF – they prefer.
- Don’t be overly pushy with your readers. Some authors will advise you to do whatever you need to to beg, plead and grovel for a review and then encourage that reviewer to share their opinion far and wide. I am not a fan of that approach – from either side of the coin. Just be happy that another person has read your book and hopefully enjoyed the experience. Let them decide what they want to do after they finish your book – no pressure. Your motto should be reviews are appreciated but not required!
- Be grateful for the reviews you do receive, even though you will most probably receive a lot fewer reviews than you think you should have according to your sales figures. A HECK OF A LOT LESS!
- Ensure all aspects of your digital presence are up to date. Fill in your Amazon author profile and check that your book has been added to Goodreads.
- Make your website your central hub, where readers can easily find information about your books, yourself, your events plus links to social media and retail sites. Adding a blog can be a good way to keep readers coming back to your website as you build your community.
- Allow readers to have an easy way to contact you, via an email address, contact form on your website or through social media. Be approachable, not elusive.
- If you are going the merchandising route, pick items that are useful, such as bookmarks, magnets and pens, as they are less likely to be thrown out the second you turn your back.
- Build an email list so you can use it for promotion and to keep in touch with your readers. You can add a link to opt-in to your mailing list at the end of your book and on your website. Add a subscribe tab to your Facebook page. Think about what you can offer as an incentive for people to sign up, such as a free story, competition prizes or discount voucher.
- Consider applying to book promotion sites such as BookBub and running a special discount period if you want to reverse lagging sales.
- Help promote other authors – because you want to support them, not because you expect something in return.
- Stop constantly checking your sales figures and Amazon rankings and go do something productive! NOW!