Updated: Mar 6
Many published authors struggle with this stage of publishing, but we mustn’t ignore the power of a quality marketing campaign for a book. Your marketing will separate you from the others in the already saturated market. Of course, this article will address the self-published authors.
If you’re accepted by a publishing house, they will likely do your marketing, but it doesn’t hurt to do some on your own too.
Promoting a book, no matter if printed or an e-book, can be divided into 2 phases:
Before your book officially comes out
Once your book is out
There are also two basic ways to reach the market, as you probably know:
Promotional channels for both e-books and printed editions overlap, but I will accentuate where it differs.
What you’ll need:
It would be good to have a book cover ready. Have in mind the promotional materials, so you'll potentially need it in a 3D mockup too, like this:
The book cover is very important because it can make you or break you. I’ve spent days in selecting the cover for my printed edition.
You don’t have to know Photoshop to do a high-quality book cover. I’ll explain the book cover making process in one of my following articles.
ALSO READ: 5 Writing Problems and How to Solve Them
You’ll also want to avoid the use of copyrighted images both on your cover and on your promo posters.
Another important thing is the headline. Think of it as the shortest pitch you can give to a future reader. Even if you already have some established base of followers, you should always work on attracting new ones, so the best fitting headline should be your focus.
You can think of this one even before your book comes out. It’s a description, possibly with quotes that do not contain spoilers but helps the reader understand what the book is about. Parts of book blurb can be used for promotional posters and it’s always good to have a few selected quotes ready for different purposes. These quotes should be a hook from the book, like some dialogue that is memorable.
Make or have someone make you book promotional videos. These are short videos of about 20 seconds that can be published almost anywhere on your social media (and used for free or paid advertisement). They will contain your 3D book cover, your photo, and the book blurb/quotes. Promotional video in this phase has the “Coming Soon” feel.
See how I made mine for an already published book: (note how I added my blog logo. Branding!)
Other promotional materials include:
Posters (digital and printed)
Social media posts
Marketing time – pre-launch phase!
Remember the Coming Soon feel!
The first step applies to both printed books and e-books. Or better yet – applies to the news about your book.
It involves both paid and non-paid advertisements.
In this step, you should focus on starting to spread the word out about your book launch date. Think of it in a way that you put your future readers into a “fear of missing out” state of mind. The most important thing is that you’re 100% certain that your launch date won’t change. This builds trust from the get-go.
If you’re uncertain in your book launch date, it’s good enough to say the month in which the book will come out, and then a week before the official launch announce the date.
It’s never too early to start the book pre-launch phase of marketing. If you’re printing your book, start the moment your manuscript goes to printing.
If you’re publishing via an online platform, start at the moment you’re finishing the editing of your book.
ALSO READ: Law of Attraction in Service of Writers
The simplest non-paid advertisement method and the most effective one is word of mouth. Your friends and family can help you with this.
Have in mind the marketing platforms that you will use for your book but also the way your promotional material is done. You won’t advertise a horror book with a pink background and heart emojis.
Think of the message you want to convey in your readers’ minds. People spend not only money but also their free time when they buy your book. Think about helping them enjoy their free time with it. This will later bring you great reviews!
You are also looking down to narrow your audience. Why? Because a wide audience might cause bad reviews. Your horror novel won’t be liked by people who read romance. Don’t try to overkill the pitch and sell it to everyone. If you do so, people might buy it, but the result might not appeal to you.
Narrowing down your audience to your genre will result in more word of mouth. And it also saves your time and potentially money.
The platforms you will use for promoting the news about your coming soon book vary and overlap for printed editions and e-books.
Both can be advertised through:
Blogs that can promote you and blogs where you can post a comment or a guest post
Facebook – author’s page and groups
Reposting a 5-star review – if you’ve already published a book
If you’re willing to have paid and non-paid advertisements, some of these social networks give you the options.
֍ Upcoming e-books can further be advertised through Kindle options.
֍ Upcoming printed editions can be advertised through newspaper ads and press releases (paid).
֍ Goodreads giveaways work for printed books – once they’re done printing and you have a physical product.
֍ Don’t forget that Amazon offers the print on demand option too.
‘Cause sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down and talking to your readers live while holding your printed book.
Blogs are one of the best ways to advertise your books. If you don’t have your own blog, you can find a high-quality literature blog and you can contact them and ask them to write a blog post about your book.
Like I did for Ronald's book Eating the Forbidden Fruit.
(Have in mind that paid book reviews are illegal in some jurisdictions. Where I live, we pay for book reviews and later include them in the manuscript. The more influential author we find to do our review, the more expensive it is but results in more sales.)
How to approach a blogger? The best way is to send them an email that they listed as a contact on their website. They do read comments, but this way you will look more professional and gain more attention.
If they don’t charge, great! If they do, try to negotiate the price.
BUT have in mind that many bloggers will cover their traffic numbers and try to oversell you their services. Check their domain age, and see their Alexa ranking.
If you’re okay with the price ask the most important thing – is the blog post permanent?
I doubt people delete blog posts, but who knows.
It’s all about building trust.
There is a real mutual benefit of this kind of promo. Bloggers pay for traffic, so they’ll basically pay for your traffic too, which can result in sales. On the other side – you just gave a blogger one article idea! Bloggers often struggle with ideas for their articles, so writing about your book might come in handy for them!
You can even do viral book tours on blogs.
Pinterest is more of a search engine than a social network and that’s how it should be treated. Put more focus on keywords and your book description, and less on hashtags. Make your account a business one and create bright pins with your website/link on them.
Don’t overdo it though. Pinterest takes time to pick up, so patience is the key here. But once it does, you’ll feel the difference.
Join group boards focused on literature to advertise your book. Chances are your pins will get saved by other authors and that will help with your exposure.
Facebook – author’s page and groups:
Make your page as soon as you’re done with your novel and decided to publish it! If you already have a page, even better.
Facebook paid advertisements can bridge the waiting gap and help you gain traction.
I’ve seen a lot of complaints from people who share their links in groups about Facebook banning their pages because they didn’t pay for the ads, so if you wish to share your book links all over, maybe it’s best to pay some small amount and play it safe. (This is not confirmed, I’m just stating what I’ve seen happen and throwing in a little Facebook conspiracy theory. I think what really happens is that those users get reported for spam.)
If you’re okay to wait for the people to notice your page, you don’t have to pay. Instead, you could join multiple book advertising groups and share your links there.
Pay attention to the timezone of your targeted readers. You’ll want your post to be noticed!
The thing I’ve noticed about Twitter is that it “loves the activity”. Follow bloggers and authors, like people’s posts and share them. Use hashtags to gain traction, but make sure you do this daily.
Use Google Ads and set your author's page as the landing link.
You can also promote your book via a video on YouTube or ask an established YouTuber to promote it for you. YouTube can be on the expensive side, but the exposure is huge!
Some marketers have success with Instagram, but I personally avoid it. To me, Instagram is preferably for photographers and fashionistas than authors. But by all means, if you have an Instagram following, utilize it!
Let’s observe the bigger picture now!
You got your cover and promo materials.
You set up social media.
You started your book marketing campaigns in pre-launch.
You start building your presence as an author. You are branding yourself now.
The best way to observe branding is to realize what emotion you cause in people when they see you. Think in terms of people thinking “Oh, that’s right, her X book will come out soon.”
Remember that we’re still in the Coming Soon phase and we’re focused on getting the news out.
They’ve seen you a certain number of times to recall who you are. Now it’s time to drive them to action.
Answer comments, yours and other people. Offer a helping hand and support similar authors like yourself. Engage yourself and you will have an engaged audience while building your brand.
Now the time comes when your book will be officially out. You’ve prepped everyone around you for this big day. Organize a book launch!
Book launch time!
Congratulations! You’ve reached your goal.
It’s time to sell now!
(Again, this is the mix of free and paid options.)
You’ve already announced the date and time for it, now it’s time to show up.
If you’re publishing online, organize a live YouTube session or a Facebook event on a day your book is out. Offer something to a certain amount of people or organize a giveaway for those who decide to buy your e-book. Make a raffle of some sort.
Don’t forget the most important thing – gratitude. Have a digital card prepared with your name on it, and send it over to people who left any type of contact and bought your book!
If you’re publishing a printed book edition, organize a live party and promotion. These are the best way to meet your readers and have a talk.
Prepare small gifts for those who buy your book. On my book promotions, I’ve given away bookmarks. These can be personalized or not.
· Don’t forget book fairs! This is a great way to promote your book.
Your book launch is done. You’ve sold some copies and things are just now starting to heat up.
Advice No.1 – chill for a few days
Because everything that you’ve done so far you will do even more.
Advice No.2 – rinse and repeat
Only now you change your promo materials to the “In Sale” mode.
Treat yourself as an established author. People will perceive you the way you perceive yourself. You’ve reached your goal of book publishing, it’s time to reap the benefits and engage your audience to give you feedback and reviews. More feedback and reviews equal more sales.
ALSO READ: Letting People Read What You Wrote
Speak about your book in public events if you get the chance. Connect with other authors and organize a promotion together.
Continue commenting on people’s posts and Facebook pages. Engage and join, but also invite others to join your platforms.
Have fun with your readers and don’t forget to ask them questions. They will appreciate that you want to hear their opinion.
A few months into your book selling, you can organize an Ask Me Anything session live (can be applied to online book launch too). Be ready, people will ask you anything though!
Follow a general marketing rule – people must see you 7 times to remember you and/or your product.
Don’t ignore libraries. These are the places readers will find you. Check if you can leave a few copies of your book with your closest few libraries. That way you’ll get more exposure.
Update your email signature and if you’re a member of any forum, update your signature there too. Post links to your books and websites.
Organize book contests, online or live.
Ask your readers to send you a photo of them reading your book and share it on social media. People love seeing that you have readers who enjoy your work.
Publish one more book. I noticed that some authors complain about how their book sales stopped or slowed down, but when they published another book, people bought both. Don’t forget to link to your first book from other books.
Charity fundraisers can be great, whether you published online or printed editions. Get involved with schools or local volunteers or even churches. They might help you get the space for free if you donate a percentage of your sales.
Fiverr promotions are another go-to. Fiverr is one of the cheapest places where you can get legit freelancers to advertise whatever you need.
ARCs can help you get early reviews.
It could be said that this is book marketing in a nutshell. Did you find it confusing? What’s the hardest thing for you to apply? For me, it’s definitely Instagram. I can’t wrap my head around its algorithms.
If this helped you, please leave a comment. If you think I missed something, make sure you let me know.
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