To be very clear, I have no previous experience with marketing other than a couple of classes I took in college more years ago than anyone needs to know. However, I”m getting that experience now – slowly but surely. Some I’ve learned the right way and some not so much. Either way, I want to share some ideas that may or may not work for you, advice I’ve read or received, and maybe provide a launching pad that can be helpful to other writers.
Have your marketing plan in place before you debut your book. Great advice, right? I knew this and had what I would now refer to as a “partial” plan (mostly because I didn’t do all I should have). I believe the 3 most important parts to your plan should be the following:
- Create a platform – this basically consists of a blog, twitter, facebook page, etc. Everyone will tell you to create an online presence to build up momentum for your book. Following advice, I did start a blog and facebook page 9 months in advance of publication. I’m glad I did but not for the reasons that I thought. Mostly I find the blog a great way to build friendships with other writers and LEARN. Without the knowledge I’ve gained from other writers, the process of publication would have been much harder. Did having an online presence create momentum? Only in small ways but more importantly, it did create a support system that is outside of sales and therefore, more sustainable. However, I will caution that creating a presence is not about constant self-promotion. Be considerate.
- Market Your Book Everyday – This is harder than it sounds unless you count every single tweet as a marketing tool. I think it’s important not to beat yourself up if you don’t do something every day. First of all, some things you do will have a multiple day effect (i.e. running blog ads) and others will probably only have a minimal day impact. Also, many writers run into difficulty with how much to spend on marketing. Book Launch? Blog Ads? Print Ads? If funding a marketing campaign is difficult, there are other things you can do (see below).
- Get Reviews – I have to admit I didn’t send advance copies and have not yet sent my book to anyone for reviews. However, I am planning to and believe that this was a mistake on my part. Still, I have been fortunate to receive some reader reviews that have been posted to Amazon and a few other sites. Those reader reviews are important in attracting new readers but a review from a credible source (Kirkus, another author, etc.) may be even better. In the next few weeks, I plan to reach out for reviews and will be sure to do some advance work for my second novel.
Most of this is the standard advice we all know about. There is even more to learn from authors’ forums, tweets, and blogs. More specific ideas include the following:
- Post chapters of your book on sites such as Wattpad or Authors Den. Readers who like what they’ve read will go your Amazon page. Although I haven’t done this yet, I have read that some authors find this more beneficial than running ads (and it costs you nothing).
- Find blogads that let you target readers of your genre. There are many, many blogs and sites devoted to books and a range of prices. Some are less expensive (based mostly on number of views) but those that are expensive may cost more than you will make in sales. This method of marketing depends on your goals.
- Guest Post or set up a blog tour if possible. One guest post can lead to another and sometimes to a feature in a printed publication. Think about where you guest though. If you write romance, it makes no sense for you to post on a site that is devoted to nonfiction or one that promotes horror. Target your audience so you can use your time more efficiently.
- Host a giveaway. Goodreads allows you to schedule one prior to the release or up to six months after your release date. While it may not translate into substantial sales, you may get reviews from those who have won your book. There are also many book blogs that will host a giveaway for you. Of course, the costs will fall on you but they are usually minimal if you limit the number of books you include in your giveaway.
- Start local. I have many friends in book clubs around the state. Last year, 6 book clubs chose my book as their “read of the month” and I had the honor and pleasure of being their guest. Who wouldn’t love answering questions about their book? I am already scheduling more for 2013. I will not pretend these are big numbers but may create some word of mouth and get you some new readers.
- Create a Press Release for your book and send to anyone you can think of. This can result in free publicity. The local paper may not review your book, but they may list it on a “new releases” page. Other sources that have worked are alumni publications and community membership groups. Many have monthly magazines or newsletters. Finally, if you are a freelance writer as I am and have a relationship with a magazine or two, they may be willing to feature your book.
- Check into Google Ads. I was given this advice by someone who is part of a successful advertising firm and I think this could work for the right book. Although I played around with it briefly, I found the cost not to be worth it for my book. Depending on your keywords, the price can be prohibitive, depending on your royalty agreement.
- Schedule a book launch. If your book is in e-book form only, then try to build up a launch through your platform. If your book is also in hardback or paperback, it can be very rewarding to meet readers and sign books. If you’re self-published and your local bookstores are not an option, you can still host a book launch or signing party at another venue. You can still invite your local press, friends, family, and anyone else who might be interested. Be sure to have books to sell and sign. Another great idea is to partner with another writer and hold a simultaneous launch, thereby doubling your guests and splitting the costs.
- Join groups but…I must caution you not to overextend yourself. Don’t be a member in more groups than you can keep up with. This only takes time away from your writing.
Are there more ideas I haven’t yet discovered or tried? Oh, yes! (Feel free to share if you’d like). The most important thing about book marketing is to learn what works for you (without taking too much time away from actual writing) and your book. Marketing, like publishing, is a learning process. Read, experiment, and LEARN. Here we go!