The weeks before a book comes out, an author can feel like they’ve been tossed up into a whirling tornado. There’s so much to do, and you can never do it all.
Or at least that’s how I feel as I dive into the launch week for my second print book out July 9, The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting Your Business on a Shoestring (Allworth Press).
When my first print book came out, I didn’t know much about book marketing. I was excited because my publisher had promised to get my business book into all the Hudson News airport outlets! But they didn’t do much else, and it didn’t sell well.
This time around, I’ve learned a lot (partly from publishing two eBooks of my own) and am much more focused on marketing. The good news is, there is a lot of book marketing you can do without leaving your house by using online platforms and email.
Here are my book-marketing MUST-DO’s:
1. Start early with social media. If you can, begin three to five months before publication. Set up a Twitter handle and Facebook page for your book, and begin sharing useful information or asking interesting questions with hashtags on topics that will attract your ideal readers.
For my shoestring-startup book I grabbed the Twitter handle @Startupcheap — you can take a look there to see the mix of tips from the book, notices about book giveaways, and startup news from other trusted outlets that I’ve shared. I’ve also tweeted about the book from my more established @TiceWrites handle to reach more readers. To make your social-media marketing efficient, use a scheduling tool such as HootSuite to program a week or more of posts at once.
2. Have early readers and reviewers. I got permission from my publisher to send out 50 secure PDFs of the book to subscribers to my writing/solopreneur blog. Now I have a group that have already read the book before publication day and can leave first-day Amazon, Barnes & Noble and GoodReads reviews. These have proven key to getting these busy sites to rank your book well and keep it in front of visitors searching for your genre.
3. Create a dedicated book site. I was surprised to discover that my current publisher does not create websites for its books — it’s up to the author. If this happens to you — or if you’re self-publishing — find an affordable webmaster (or use a simple website creation service like HostBaby) and get a site up with a relevant URL for your book. It will be worth the small investment.
I claimed the site ShoestringStartupGuide.com for my new book. Remember, if you use good key words, this site may be able to drive an ongoing stream of sales for years to come. I know authors who want to simply sell the book off their existing author site, such as my caroltice.com one, but that doesn’t give search engines as much help finding your book.
4. Capture emails. Having your own site also allows you to create an email opt-in and offer a bonus. For instance, purchasers of my book get a link to an opt-in page on my book site where after entering their email, they can download a workbook/checklist to help them brainstorm how to apply the book’s money-saving ideas to their own business.
This is a critical activity because when people buy on Amazon, you don’t know who they are and can’t sell them any followup books or courses in future. Try to think of a bonus you could offer readers that would allow you to build your own reader email list.
5. Send ‘personal’ emails on LinkedIn. You can cut and paste a single InMail message and send it to up to 50 of your LinkedIn connections at a time. I’m letting my connections with a business focus know about the book launch, and it’ll just take a few minutes this way. On the recipient’s end, it looks like an individual email. You will need the paid level of LinkedIn to InMail many connections at once. (If you don’t have a large LinkedIn network, start early building more connections in preparation for launch time.)
To send the InMails, go to your Contacts tab, select All, and then click “Send message” on the upper right of your rolodex. From there, the system will prompt you to select up to 50 connections to get the message. Repeat the process until you’ve reached out to all the contacts you want.
6. Do giveaways. My publisher offered 10 free copies for my GoodReads giveaway, and more than 200 people registered to win them in the first week alone of a month-long giveaway. Besides raising awareness, giveaways allow you to market your book in social media without seeming pushy, as you can just share that giveaway link.
[For more information about promoting your book through a GoodReads giveaway, click HERE.]
7. Take a blog tour. Connect with larger audiences than your own by appearing on popular blogs in your niche. On launch week I will have many guest posts going up on blogs for authors, startups, solopreneurs, and small business owners, all relevant audiences for my book. Be flexible about the format of these guest posts — some blogs may want a Q&A interview, audio or video recording, or to review your book, while others might have you write a guest post.
There is always more you can do — I’m planning to set up a Wikipedia page for my book too, for instance — but I think the activities above are the ones that will likely be most productive.
[For more information on booking a blog tour, click HERE.]
What’s your most effective online book-marketing strategy? Leave your ideas in the comments section below and add to my list.
Carol Tice is a longtime business writer and blogs about entrepreneurship and franchising for Forbes. Her new book is The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting Your Business on a Shoestring.
[“Marketing” image from Shutterstock.]