Are you in need of marketing guidance? These digital marketing strategies for self-published authors can get you started with your online book marketing.
As you probably know, readers do not come easy if you’re not already an established author. As the book industry gradually migrates to the online environment, self-published authors need to be aware of digital marketing strategies in order to promote their books successfully on the Internet.
Unfortunately for those who wish to make an impression, the Internet is saturated and attention is quite difficult to gain. But while competition is harsh, the democratic nature of the Internet means it is possible for self-published authors to make it to the top… if they know how.
Marketing your book in this competitive sector is essential, and the steps we propose in this article can be implemented even by marketing beginners.
1. Build an author website around you as an author
Your author website should be a focused space that introduces your audience to who you are and the work you have produced. This website will serve not only as a sales pitch for your book, but also as an online business card where people get to know more about you as a person: who you are, what work you do, any interesting background, other books you have written, access to all of your social channels, etc.
It also gives people the opportunity to contact you in a more professional way (instead of, for example, Twitter, where the approach is more casual and limited to 140 characters).
It may appear to be a daunting task, but it really is not that complicated to get your website up and running.
The good news? It can be done for almost no cost.
One option is WordPress, a free platform that provides regular updates, extremely useful add-ons and plug-ins for your site without the need of a developer, and great security. You can also choose a free theme to suit your style from over 2,000 theme choices. Not bad!
Here are the two options when setting up your website via WordPress:
1. Set up a free account and choose a theme that speaks about your project, reflects your personality, and follows the tone to match what your book is about. Even though your domain will have wordpress.com within the URL (the website address), it is a free option and you can always purchase a domain later on.
2. If you can purchase your domain and hosting yourself, you only need to setup your WordPress installation. It is a little more technical than the free option, but if you know someone who can help you, it is worth looking into. If you have available money dedicated to your marketing budget, try the hand of a professional via People Per Hour or Upwork. Costs of domain and hosting go for about $50 to $100 per year, plus paying a professional to set it all up for you. Contact several people so you can compare price and experience. Be sure to read their reviews too, as they’ll help you choose the right person.
SEO is not as complicated as you think!
If you decide to go for option two you can upload plug-ins free from the WordPress repository. A MUST is the WordPress SEO plugin – off the shelf will pretty much do everything for you! And here is a tutorial on how to use it.
The more you familiarize yourself with SEO, the less daunting it will become (and you’ll see how easily you can use it to your advantage!)
The right pages on your menu
Your homepage is the place to showcase your book. Have a small intro about yourself (perhaps a bio in the sidebar), but your book should be the main focus when people land on your site. Save the extended personal profile for a separate page, the home page is all about your latest work! Images are key: be sure to include an eye-catching graphic of your book along with a tagline and summary to intrigue the reader and a button so people can easily purchase it from the sites you are selling it from. Gillian Flynn’s homepage showcases her new book perfectly, and includes a short quote about her in order to briefly introduce her to new readers.
Your personal profile page (usually named “About”) is a great opportunity to tell your audience about yourself. A third person narrative may be a more professional option, but it is worth having a paragraph directly from you to ensure it doesn’t feel cold. For example, tell your visitors about when your passion for writing developed and why you decided to write your first book. Make sure your tone has a certain warmth to it when coming directly from you.
Include a Books page to feature a blurb for the books you’ve written, complete with links to retailers selling your books so visitors can quickly navigate to an online store where they can purchase your works.
An author blog is extremely important in the modern landscape. Be sure to choose the right topics to populate your blog with (it is crucial you show people that you are an authority on your chosen topic). For example, if you have written a cook book, keep adding recipes to your blog so people get a taste of what they will get if they buy it. If your book is fiction, you can write tutorials on how to get started writing your book, discussing your favorite authors, interviewing other authors, etc. Delve into your sector and think about what people with your interests would like to read.
A Contact page is essential. This would typically include your email address, your social media links and perhaps a form for people to contact your directly through the website (just be sure it is linked to an email account you check often).
2. The role of keywords (and how you can master them)
Keywords help search engines (like Google) know what your web page is about. That way, they can offer it to people with matching search terms. In short, people find you through keywords.
Here are some easy and effective way to master the basics of keywords.
Google Autosuggest Tool. Once you’ve decided on the topic you will be blogging about, use the Google Autosuggest Tool to find out what people are searching for within your topic. Just start typing the words related to it and, as the name of the tool implies, Google autosuggests the rest of the sentence.
Remember, these are the phrases people actually use to search on Google, so when you add them to your blog posts, Google will populate the search results with your articles as you gain authority over time.
Tip 1. The longer the sentence on Google Autosuggest, the more chances you have of ranking for it.
Tip 2. Add as many related keywords to your article as you can, as this will enhance your chances of being found when someone searches that word or phrase.
Tip 3. Your chosen sentence should appear in the title of your blog post and again in the first paragraph so Google knows clearly what your article is about.
3. The importance of social media buzz
Social media is an integral part of modern-day marketing, and a tool not to be ignored. Whether you’re Tweeting about your book or sharing snippets of your work on Instagram, social media is the new way to build a following (and hopefully they will be a small hoard of fellow enthusiasts).
Here are a few ways you can spark a social buzz.
Where do authors live? Twitter!
If you have not already set up a Twitter account, set one up as soon as you can. It’s vital to grow a small following and get talking to people in your field. Follow industry experts and keen readers and always engage with any Tweet mentions that come your way. Remember to be professional, this is about marketing yourself as well as your book.
Marketing yourself as a professional on LinkedIn
You might already use LinkedIn to update your professional network on your latest career developments, but had you considered using it as a platform to write informative articles?
Share your insights with other budding writers, offer industry advice and write about any changes you’ve observed on the writing landscape.
Other social ways to promote
When it comes to using social media to promote, you have to think of which platforms are tailor made for your business. For example, if you are writing a cook book, the picture-led Instagram and Pinterest might be more suited for you. If you are writing fiction, you will probably find Facebook is your best option because authors often build communities of readers via Pages and Groups.
See what other successful people in your field are using and consider why it works for them and if it will work for you. Not everything you see will be suitable for you career as an author, but seeing what works for others will give you some ideas to consider, along with a potential starting point.
It’s also important to get talking to people in the same area of work as you. Join the conversation by weighing in on forums or Facebook groups discussing your topic and, when relevant, point people in the direction of your work. Be careful not to over promote as many forums are wary of this, but a lot of Facebook groups will encourage sharing so it is important to know the etiquette where you are posting.
Tweak, rinse and repeat!
You should always be adaptable in the world of digital marketing. One strategy might have considerably better results than another, and sometimes this is difficult to predict.
Consider using the Pareto time management rule. When you see that something is working, dedicate 80% of your time to it; the remaining 20% of your time should be dedicated to trying new things. Ditch what doesn’t work and if it didn’t work straight away, it probably won’t work later on either.
One last thing. It’ll take about one year for you to see substantial results. Google takes its time to trust websites (which is good!) and building a genuine social media following happens gradually.
Persevere, and you will see the results.
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