9 tips for marketing your book

Dan KempBlog, Publishing

So you’ve created an ebook and published it? The next step is marketing and promoting the book. Here are some ideas.

A while ago we published a series of blog posts on how to publish your Book Creator book to the iBooks Store. For a while we’ve been meaning to write another article offering tips and advice on marketing your book.

However, I recently came across this comprehensive guide to publishing your own book by stinkyink.com, a family business from the UK that supplies toner and ink cartridges for every make of printer.

stinkyink.com

With their kind permission, they have let us publish chapter 4 of their guide here (with some minor edits). You can read the full guide at stinkyinkshop.co.uk/book-publishing-guide. The guide also includes chapters on preparing your book, creating and publishing an ebook or physical book, and how to protect your book.

9 tips for marketing your book

Marketing – the hard truth

So, you’ve written an amazing book and now you need to market it! Unfortunately, marketing is really hard work…

Marketing as an unknown author in the highly competitive book-selling environment is even tougher still!

Until you’re a renowned novelist or have the financial backing of a large publisher, it’s going to be a major part of your time. However, all is not lost, and there are numerous methods available to get your book seen by the masses.

We’ve searched far and wide for the best advice and tips for getting your book heard about. Please remember when approaching our comprehensive list below, it is far better to do a few of these book marketing tips well, than do them all moderately.

First things first, who are you marketing to?

Aimless marketing may as well be money down the drain, and it is absolutely crucial to target the right individuals. Here are a few detailed pointers from AuthorHouse to help identify and understand your target audience before the marketing process even begins.

First, let’s look at marketing your book online…

Tip 1: Set up your own author’s website

A website helps people find out about you, what you’ve written, what inspires you and anything else you want to share. In fact, a personal author’s website is such an important marketing tool that publishers actively look for, and encourage, authors to have their own online presence.

WordpressIf you’re a technophobe we’d definitely advise using a blogging solution called WordPress, which has made creating your own blog a cinch (this blog is made with WordPress). WordPress guides you through every stage of the website-creation process to make sure you get everything set up smoothly.

There’s also a large and active community behind WordPress that means if you get stuck at any stage, help won’t be far away.

Other similar options include Weebly, Squarespace, or The Grid.

Screenshot from Squarespace

Activities for your website

Just stop and think for a moment about why people would come to an author’s website…

To learn about the author? To see either newly released books or the rest of your writings? To get in touch about possible event or marketing opportunities? Or simply just to say how much they enjoyed the book?

You need to ensure that your website addresses the needs of the masses, and a great place to start is to visit other authors and see the kind of features they provide. The bare minimum your website should provide is:

  • Regularly checking up on the comments and discussions with your readers.
  • Occasional articles or posts to keep the website fresh. These can be on topics like your existing work, or up and coming features.
  • A ‘library’ of your existing work, with links to where they can be purchased.
  • Contact and social details for those looking to get in touch, such as Twitter accounts, email addresses etc.

Once these basics are in place you can look at expanding the features of your website and really providing some great unique content and options.

Some examples:

Chris Dunst is the author of ‘The Fire Truck and the Moon‘, a book he wrote with his 2-year-old son! He has set up a great portfolio-style blog at y2kemo.com.

Kris Mastracchio has his own website at everythingkris.com, which promotes his music, art and games, and also his book – ‘Ponder the Possum‘.

The authors behind ‘Crazy Coconut Christmas Chronicles’ actually set up a website totally dedicated to the book, and designed it to be an obvious fit with the book design. Check out coconutchristmasbook.com.

Crazy Coconut Christmas Chronicles

Bonus suggestions for your own author blog:

Search Engine Optimisation

We won’t go into the specifics of how to optimise your website, but if you look at pursuing it independently we highly recommend reading up on a topic called “Search Engine Optimisation”, often referred to as SEO. This will help your website rank well in search engines, helping you get visibility and visits for people looking for your author name or book.

 Beginner’s Guide to SEO (moz.com)

Competitions

For example, offering a small number of your ebooks free, or signed editions of a hard copy, are great rewards for fans showing an interest in your website.

If you actually become a bestseller you may want to hold on to even those small things like “the notepad my first book was drafted in”, which can all be valuable assets!

If you can make any contest amusing then all the better, since people are much more likely to share things they find funny, which increases the reach and benefit of your competition.

Example:

Exploring the options above, you might even want to go as far as the approach Bryan Ballinger, who set up a Kickstarter fundraiser to fund production of his scratch and sniff ‘Animal Gas‘ book, and had lots of great prizes for different levels of donation.

Video / audio features

People turn out in their hundreds to see established authors read passages from their works and there’s no reason you can’t do the same with podcasts or videos on your website.

Something as simple as you reading the first chapter of your book can serve as a taster to prospective readers as well as an interesting discussion piece. Reading a page or two at a time cuts down on the time you’ll spend correcting errors and you can either upload it to your page as small audio segments or use a sound editing program to compile it into one file.

If you really want to spread your influence you can also consider videoing this and posting to your YouTube channel.

Or, you could create a short video trailer for your book, like Michael Foster did for his book ‘Give A Hoot‘.

Tip 2: Start a mailing list

Building your own email list of interested fans is a very good way of keeping information flowing to those that really care about it.

With upcoming releases, book discussions and competitions just a few of the many emailing possibilities out there, the earlier you can start populating your signup list the better.

Thankfully, adding a signup bar to your website is incredibly simple with just a small bit of code or the addition of a widget. There are loads of great email service providers out there that are free, up to a certain level of subscribers, meaning you can start growing your list without any cash investment.

MailchimpLook around for email service providers that you are comfortable using. We suggest you give Mailchimp a try.

It’s free up to 2,000 subscribers in their Forever Free plan, and you barely lose any functionality from the paid options. Overall, a fantastic choice for starting your email activities.

Tip 3: Create a social media presence

The world has become social, and having an online presence that talks, comments and is readily approachable is highly recommended.

Twitter

https://twitter.com

Twitter iconWe recommend at the very least having a Twitter account linked to your author name. Twitter opens up the world of hashtag topics and trends, meaning you can easily bring together any fans who are tweeting about your topic. An account is free and easily monitorable from any web-connected device, so you’ve got no reason not to have one!

These hashtag chats are a great way to get in touch with people who are active in different areas. There is a publicly available list of hashtags here that you can use to find people active in your field.

A couple of tags that we’d recommend following and/or getting involved with are #ePrdctn and #storycraft.

#ePrdctn is a channel for all kinds of discussions about the processes of creating an eBook. #storycraft is a great place for fiction writers to get a bit of assistance with the forging of their worlds. It’s well worth scanning down the list and seeing if there’s a chat set up that may contain at least part of your target audience.

Facebook

www.facebook.com

Facebook iconA Facebook page is another minimum requirement that is free and beneficial. With the introduction of Facebook timeline, your entire author’s life, publishing history and success stories are readily available.

An author’s Facebook page is also a great way to push new releases, with the ability to highlight new events to draw attention to them.

Andy Maitland Facebook page

iPad artist Andy Maitland has created a Facebook page to promote his iPad art ebooks.

Google+

https://plus.google.com

Google+ is another area you might wish to invest time in. As a social network, it’s reach is not as wide as Twitter and Facebook, but it does allow easy sharing of content with friends-of-friends, which allows great content (like your book!) to reach the eyes of people you’d never normally be able to reach.

Cutest Book Ever Google+ page

Social competitions

If you decide to run a competition on your website then don’t forget to let the masses know via your social accounts! Once word of mouth spreads your competition can really take off.

Be aware of the guidelines for posting competitions on Twitter and Facebook as they’ll affect the choices available for you. There’s some nice advice on running a Twitter competition here.

Tip 4: Get social on dedicated websites

The Goodreads website is a fantastic community of avid readers who love books and want to be involved in reading-related activities as much as possible.

Whether you want their reading suggestions or not, head to their website and create a new account (it’s free). Once you’re done, go to the Goodreads Group page.

From here, you can search by category, name, author, discussion group, literally anything the heart desires. On a research level this is perfect, but once your name becomes more established you can set up discussion groups and events based around you as an author, and your works.

 Start your Goodreads account

Screenshot from the Goodreads website

Tip 5: You have your own blog, now user other blogs

A great way to build a name for yourself in the blogosphere is to write guest posts for other websites.

These posts can be anything you’re comfortable writing about that another blog would be interested in, and focusing on your strengths and experience as a “soon-to-be best selling author” is a great place to start. For example, writing tips, or even previous experiences (if you’re already published), is content which writing blogs will always love.

Finding these opportunities is pretty effortless at first. A quick and effective method is a Google search for “your genre” blogs which will return numerous blogs that Google feel are relevant to your genre.

Couple this with any contacts or active social accounts you find on Twitter or Facebook (more of that below) and you’ll have plenty of people to get involved with.

Popular sites StumbleUpon and Technorati can help you find related blogs, though they are slightly more long-winded methods than just searching Google intelligently.

All of the features you provide on your own website, such as podcasts, video interviews etc, can be taken and applied to the content other websites want. Once you’ve got a few out there, you’ll find enquiries come in and certain websites actually make requests of you, which can only be good for your book.

Examples – Book Creator blog

There have been numerous guest posts written by published authors on this blog. Here are some:

Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm on Blurb

Tip 6: Internet advertising

Our previously discussed methods of marketing can give you word of mouth and awareness similar to advertising, and are all but free once you allow for the time it takes. Advertising is not, but it does allow you to get your product in front of people instantly.

As such, this is one of the riskier options and should only be undertaken by either an author with cash to burn that can afford an external company, or someone with the experience and knowhow to do it individually.

Internet advertising has made targeting an incredibly powerful tool. If you want to get your message in front of people viewing certain websites, or searching Google for specific keywords, you can!

If you’re new to the world of internet advertising we highly recommend you employ a Pay Per Click (PPC) company to do this for you as, going solo, one simple mistake may cost you thousands. Anything from an incorrectly set budget, to poor negative keywords, can be catastrophic for your bank account, and we’d advise you either start studying popular advertising platforms such as Google Adwords and Google Adsense or look for recommended companies to do it for you.

Google Ads screenshot

Now let’s look at marketing your book in the real world (offline).

It’s important to remember that, while the internet provides important outreach opportunities, sometimes going out and meeting real people will generate much needed interest in your work.

We’ve made a list of some of the activities you might consider for your “real world” marketing. Remember these are just a few ideas; there are hundreds of opportunities that will be specific to your combination of subject matter, location and the nature of your publication.

Tip 7: Traditional advertising

Unless you’re signing with a major publisher we would suggest avoiding traditional advertising. Out of your own pocket it will be exorbitantly expensive with likely minimal returns.

Your time (and money) will be far better spent advertising yourself in the following ways, or investing in the online methods we’ve previously discussed.

Tip 8: Get out and about

Research local events, then find and attend wherever possible reading groups and book clubs. If you’re confident enough in the quality of your book you can even go as far as providing free copies of your books to these groups and inviting / encouraging feedback.

Take this a stage further and try to create your own group, possibly at a local library or somewhere topical, such as a local youth club if your book is targeted towards this demographic.

Once your book is out, try your best to arrange book signings or readings wherever possible. Agents and/or publishers will likely be able to assist getting you into the major outlets, but smaller, dedicated book stores and websites are easy enough to contact and there’s no shame in pitching yourself.

Signing a book

Tip 9: Your job is never done…

Even with everything in this guide, you’re going to need more! As a wise businessman once said, “you have to keep running to stand still in this fast paced world”.

Here are some other useful links to more ideas, if you want further reading.

  • AuthorHouse Guide to Book Marketing
    A must read for those serious about marketing their book. An amazing resource with creative thoughts and approaches to nigh on any form of marketing or advice for your book.
  • Self Publishing a book: 25 things to know
    This article has some all round advice that is great for those new to the area of publishing. There’s some fascinating marketing comments in point 18 that are well worth considering.
  • iUniverse Book Marketing Guide
    A nice little hub of information to give you some key pointers and tips on marketing your new book.

So, was that useful? Do you have any other marketing tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and start the discussion.

Dan Kemp is Red Jumper's Community Manager. He spends his time spreading the word about Book Creator and supporting people who use it.

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