The good and bad news about being a self-published author is that you have complete control over every aspect of publishing your book, including the marketing and promotion. While this will not be of concern to some authors, for others it will be a challenge and very much out of their comfort zone.
Writing a book can be a solitary and lonely experience and marketing will require networking, social media, book reviews and much more in order to generate the sales and exposure you need to succeed.
Even if you are pitching to traditional publishers and agents, you will still need to build your audience platform, especially if you are a new author. Publishers will look with great interest at how you have built your audience, and how you can reach them to promote your book.
Plan for marketing
Marketing is your way of communicating with your target audience the benefits your book will deliver. Developing your marketing plan and audience platform will not happen overnight, so it’s best to start thinking about how you are going to do this well in advance. Ideally, you will commence this process 12 months before publishing, and if possible, start marketing before you have even written your book.
It is essential that you have a marketing plan for your book. This plan should include research on who will buy your book, also known as your target market, and research into what influences your ‘target market’.
Developing this plan will help you concentrate on the key areas and focus your energy where it’s needed. For example, there is no point concentrating your marketing efforts to a Facebook audience of young adults if your book is about retirement.
Re-frame your marketing beliefs
A common marketing myth, especially when marketing ourselves, is that it is tacky and we are forcing ourselves on people. This is simply not true!
As a self-published author, you need to re-frame how you think about marketing. Try thinking of it as sharing something you love and feel passionate about with like-minded people. The trick is finding your target audience – the people who want to read your book.
In essence we are all sales people, whether we are selling the concept of doing homework to our kids, selling ourselves to our boss to get that promotion, pitching our book to agents or publishers as authors, or getting people interested in what we have written.
We’ve put together a brief list of some of our best tips and tricks for promoting your new book, building your audience and being discovered for the great author you are.
Marketing your book when it launches
Reviews can be very helpful in positioning your book online. Send free books to reviewers who work in your genre. Contact Amazon’s best reviewers but ensure that you send your work to people that have reviewed books in your genre. Remember though, not everyone will like your book and not everyone will give a good review, and that’s ok.
Getting coverage in the press can be difficult. Even the local papers are swamped by thousands of emails every week. If you have a non-fiction book, think about a hook that ties it to what’s hot in the news right now, and have a catchy headline.
Being on television, radio or in print does not necessarily guarantee book sales. However, consider how many books you have gone out and bought after you listened to an author speak. The trick to gaining media attention is to target media outlets that align with your theme and topic, and really personalise the message in terms of what their audience will get out of hearing from you.
The book launch is a traditional way to promote your book, but the way we buy books has changed and it is important to have a longer-term view of promotion. Often sales can be better after a few months when your marketing gains traction. But who doesn’t love the idea of a party to celebrate your newly published book!
Self-published authors can access paid advertising on Facebook with a clickable ‘buy link’ that takes people directly to a page to buy their book. Amazon also offers paid promotional packages that can help promote your book.
Building your audience over the longer term
Register your domain name and URL, either under your name if you are building a public profile, or for the title of your book. Depending on your budget, you can set up a free website with WordPress.com or other similar platforms.
List building and email marketing
Use forms on your website to collect people’s email addresses to keep them updated about your book and other promotional content. Some authors also include a sign-up at the back of their book. This gives you a way to inform your readers of future books and you can send out regular newsletters and links to your blogs.
Blogging is a great way to build attention and engage with your audience over time. A blog is a series of informative and interesting posts which relate to your main topics and your book in some way. It can be as diverse as your imagination, combining photographs, videos, art, music and text. Typically a blog would be incorporated into your website, but if you don’t have one you can set up a blog independently through a range of sites, including WordPress.com. You could also look to guest blog on other blogs that have a similar focus and audience to you.
Using a variety of social media channels is a wonderful way to engage with your audience. Depending on your genre you can connect with people on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and many other channels. Just be sure to pick your channel based on your research into your target audience so you can tap into the right networks. One of the biggest mistakes people can make on social media is making it all about themselves. Try to be useful, inspiring or entertaining and only occasionally promote yourself.
Appearing on your own podcast or as a guest of a regular podcaster is a fantastic way to build your profile. Podcasting is experiencing a massive resurgence at the moment and there are a wide variety of podcasts you could join.
Speaking at a conference or networking event is a wonderful way to increase your profile and engage with an audience. Start by finding events in your local area and then branch out from there once you have established some credibility.
Networking with like-minded people is a great way to let people know about your upcoming book and build excitement around your book or launch. Social networking is all about connecting with people, so remember to avoid the hard sell. Focus on building relationships with people, because behind every profile is a person. Over time these people could become great fans of your work, and advocates too.
There are many different ways you can market yourself as a self-published author and promote your book. We’ve touched on just a few here, but there are many more. Time in the market building your author platform and hard work will make all the difference over time. For most authors, marketing is a big step out of their comfort zone but can be well worth the effort.
If you feel that you would benefit from the guidance of a marketing professional to help you develop your author platform and a solid marketing plan to make your book a success, Independent Ink can put you in touch with a range of professional marketers.