Writing a book takes time, commitment, and a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears (though hopefully not too much blood!). With a finished manuscript and a published book on the way, you can kick back and bask in your success, right? Well, not exactly. Even if you sign a deal with a traditional publisher, much of the marketing falls on you, the author. A focused, consistent book marketing plan is key to finding readership. That includes knowing where and how to market a book and how to assemble a book launch team and connect with influencers.
Marketing is no easy task, but it can be done on a budget. Authors can spend as little as $50 to upward of $2,000, depending on how in depth the marketing campaign is. The key is to know where your readers are and how to allocate your resources.
An online presence is crucial for most authors, especially self-published ones. Staying active on social media will help you connect with, and find, a potential reader. To further promote your work, consider book discovery sites like BookBub or Bargain Booksy, which aim to expose readers to new authors.
Offline book communities are just as important in determining how to market your book. Contact your local library or bookstores to see if they host events like signings or literary festivals. Reach out to local news stations, newspapers, or radio shows for an interview or to ask for reviews.
If you’re publishing through a US publishing company, you will have access to US markets. This is great news, given that the United States is one of the largest publishing markets in the world. If you want international exposure, however, you must make your book available for purchase in multiple regions. Consider tailoring your book cover and ad campaigns to appeal to different regions. Because Amazon separates reviews by region, it’s also important to garner book reviews in each country you’re promoting in.
A well-designed cover will pique your reader’s interest. Intriguing back cover text highlights the compelling aspects of your book, making it clear why the reader should buy it. A branded online presence brings it all together, allowing the reader to get to know you and your work before they even click “add to cart.”
Amazon’s algorithm prioritizes books with more reviews, so the more reviews a new book has, the more book sales and the greater the social proof that it’s worth reading. For the reader skimming your book page, reviews offer insight that will help them decide if the book is right for them.
Aside from increasing visibility, reviews are great tools for your marketing campaign. For example, if you share a glowing review on social media, you’ll remind your audience that your book exists and encourage them to add a review of their own.
There are two kinds of reviews: reader reviews and editorial reviews, which come from media outlets, literary establishments, and other figureheads in the industry.
Often, the best way to get something is to simply ask. Leave a call to action in the back of your book (with a link, if it’s an e-book) asking readers to leave a review and thanking them for their time. Ask your social media following and mailing list to take a few minutes and leave a review. Run free book promotions and giveaways in exchange for reviews.
As important as reader reviews are, libraries and booksellers aren’t going to take an Amazon review from bookluver98 seriously. Alternately, endorsements from well-known people and publications add credibility to your book.
To get media reviews, reach out to publications that review similar books and genres. Before publishing, provide reviewers with an advanced reader copy so they can post the review during launch. You can quote these reviews in press releases and use them on front and back cover copy.
Your author website, if used properly, is a powerful tool for staying in touch with your audience and finding new readers. Before book launch, you can use it to create buzz, ask for reviews, and keep people updated on your writing life. Once you launch, you can directly link readers to a page where they can buy your book.
Maintaining an active online presence raises your visibility and helps you rank higher in search engine results pages. An appealing, clean author website has several important elements to it:
Like an author website, social media is a great way to update your audience and build community. Because it’s more immediate than a website, social media has greater potential to help you connect more deeply with readers.
The key to social media success is highly elusive. Here are a few fast tips:
Whether you’re traditionally publishing or self-publishing, book marketing should not be a one-person show. There are many facets to marketing, and it’s okay (and encouraged) to reach out for help.
Depending on your marketing strategy, you may need any of the following:
In addition, you should assemble a team to generate hype during launch week. Reviewers in your launch team will read your book in advance, release an honest review after publication, and promote your work on social media.
When recruiting your team, it’s tempting to turn to friends and family members. One major pitfall of this, however, is that they don’t always fit your ideal reader profile. Worse, personal bias can skew their opinions, and Amazon policy prohibits family members or close friends from submitting customer reviews. And family and friends often don’t know the first thing about how to market a book professionally.
How do you find proper reviewers? Make sure people are committed to launch, vet with an application process, and cast a wide net. Seek out industry professionals, influencers in your genre, and—most importantly—readers who fit your audience profile.
It cannot be overstated how important it is to manage your expectations. Be very clear with your team about what you want them to do and when. Lay out a timeline, and provide detailed guidelines.
What are people supposed to do, and how do they do it? What deadlines do they need to meet? Where do they go? Should they post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, both, or neither? Are there specific talking points you’d like to see mentioned in your review or a specific length?
Next, check in on your team periodically. Don’t ask people to review your book or throw together a trailer just before launch. Give them plenty of time in advance, and stay in touch throughout.
Finally, reward your team. You can offer a free copy of your book, free merch, free copies for people running giveaways, exclusive access to a private Facebook group, bonus content, a Q&A session, and more. If your book focuses on an area of expertise, you can offer free tutorials and learning materials.
Be sure that your rewards align with your book, however. If you wrote a high fantasy romance, it wouldn’t make sense to offer classes on social media promotion.
Speaking of social media promotion, let’s talk influencers.
Influencer marketing is an important tool in your marketing tool kit. Influencers persuade their audience to invest in a particular product.
The word “influencer” may bring to mind the Kardashians, and some celebrities like Oprah and Reese Witherspoon share their book club picks. On the smaller scale, however, book-focused influencers exist in a more approachable manner.
Consider book bloggers, YouTubers, and social media personalities who read and review books in your genre. One note: do not request a review from someone who has expressly asked for no reviews.
When writing to influencers, always be polite, even if they turn you down. Find influencers who are relevant to your audience. Which influencers do your coworkers and followers engage with?
Establish a connection with the influencer, making it clear what’s in it for them. At the end of your message, thank them for their time.
If the influencer decides to review your book, provide them with resources, and be available to answer any questions. Set them up for success so they can help bolster your success in turn.
Publishers offer some marketing resources, but a lot is left up to the author—especially after launch. A publisher may prepare promotional material, like advanced reader copies, marketing copy, a press kit, and printed material like posters, as well as advertising and publicity among industry events, trade catalogs, and the internet.
Unless you’re a big-name author, however, you’re going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting on your own. Resources you may use include the following:
For self-published authors, online publishing services can help with your marketing effort. Services vary, but many online publishers will help with social media promotion, writing website copy, and formatting your book.
Learning how to market your book takes a lot of effort and love. As an author, you know what that’s like—you have the grit to finish a manuscript. Now it’s time to put that grit into action to promote your book and get it the attention it deserves.
Are you looking for professional marketing services but don’t want to break the bank? Elite’s publishing bundle can help you save up to $1,200 by offering professional editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing services in one. Reach out today for a quote!