It may seem like marketing your book is an uphill battle, especially for new authors, but if you stick with it and have an organized plan, you can gain momentum — and ideally, more book sales!
When well-known authors publish new books, they generally have the resources and support from their publishers to build out a comprehensive marketing plan. But it’s a whole different story for self-published authors.
As a new author, you have to think outside the box for unique and cost-effective ways to promote your work and your author brand. While it can be challenging to get started, especially if you’re new to marketing, there are simple tactics you can use to be successful — and sell more books.
1. Post on social media, but avoid making a sales pitch
Social media is an effective tool to reach your audience, but you need to be careful how you approach your posts. Social media interactions should be a conversation. While there is room for direct promotion, your audience often isn’t interested in a sales pitch.
Instead, focus on organically creating or adding to a conversation or discussion with unique viewpoints and content. This helps you do two things:
- Build a brand. Your brand is all about your perspective and point of view and less about the products you sell, i.e. your book.
- Drive followers. Followers need content that spurs them to engage. This type of post needs to elicit an emotional response and a product photo or link to your Amazon page doesn’t do that.
Luckily, there are many free tools and engaging features now available to you. For example, Facebook Live or IGTV can be used to hold a live Q&A session based on comments from your readers. If your book is nonfiction, you can use social media to share tips from your book.
It’s also important to build your network of peers, friends and family who want to help spread your message. Ashley Pagano, author of the Never Fear the Reaper series, says she’s had success self-promoting with social media because of her network. “Having a good support system of fellow authors, bloggers, family, and friends helps the most, because just about everyone I know will share my posts from time to time.”
2. Use printed items to promote yourself at conferences and speaking engagements
Conferences and speaking engagements are a great way to promote yourself and your book. You’ll stay connected with contacts and prospects through digital channels, but to make the most of your face-to-face interactions at the event, leave people with something tangible to take with them — like printed promotional items.
Business cards are important, but there’s more you can do. Maybe a postcard or a printed brochure. These items allows for plenty of text and images that you couldn’t include on a business card. Plus, postcards and brochures are small enough to toss into a swag bag and command more attention than a business card will.
- Don’t clutter your design, leave room to breathe and highlight your most important message.
- Add a custom web URL or QR code to drive people to specific sites and track engagement from the event while driving book sales and web traffic.
- Call out your social media channels to encourage followers.
You don’t even need to get a booth to hand out brochures — keep them in a book bag and hand them out as you walk around. Staple a business card to each brochure to make sure the people you meet can easily carry both.
3. Reach out to book bloggers
Another way to gain exposure is by asking bloggers to promote you. You will likely have to offer a free copy of your book, but in return, you get potential positive reviews that will help you broaden your audience and drive book sales.
This process is simple enough to manage, even if you’ve never done it before. Use the following steps to get started.
- Manually search for bloggers using a simple Internet or social media search.
- Get bloggers’ contact information from their websites and take note of any pages about collaboration or advertising.
- Create an outreach template that includes one sentence about who you are, another one-to-two sentences about the book, and your request. Keep it short — if they’re interested, they’ll ask for more information.
- Follow up seven days after sending your initial email. Often, the first one gets lost. Not to mention, a second shows you’re serious about your pitch.
If you’re new to this outreach process, I’ve published a guide, “How to Build Thought Leadership With Guest Posting,” to get you more familiar.
4. Give fans a chance to read for free
In addition to offering complimentary books to bloggers and influencers, consider giving your potential fans an opportunity to read your book for free. Donate copies of your book to local libraries and ask them if you can leave flyers or brochures behind as well. If you have a large following, you can even do a giveaway contest.
You can also consider publishing an eBook. As of 2017, 35 percent of eBooks downloaded through Amazon were from independent self-publishers. You can encourage readers to check out your book for free or at a discounted price by running promotions through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service.
5. Ask friends to submit reviews on Amazon
Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the best ways to encourage new readers to purchase your book. A study from BrightLocal found that more than 90 percent of millennials will trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Friends and family want to see you succeed, so asking them to review your book on Amazon is an easy way to drive excitement around your book by showing potential buyers that other people loved it. Ask them to post honest and authentic recommendations and if you’re still looking for reviews, take advantage of services like Booklife, which offers free reviews for independent authors.
Marketing can be simple
It may seem like marketing your book is an uphill battle, especially for new authors. While success won’t come overnight, if you stick with it and focus on what you can do, you’ll start to see momentum — and ideally, some more book sales!
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