Marketing a book is something most authors dread and will ignore if possible. Still, it has to be done.
Once an author decides to market a book, he or she faces another even more serious problem. How to start? And when to start? To many authors, a marketing effort means sending out an occasional tweet or writing a blog post when they have nothing better to do.
That won’t hack it. Marketing a book requires a more organized approach. In fact, it needs a plan, but that is another huge stumbling block. Many authors don’t know how to develop a marketing plan.
Below are a few marketing plan elements to get you started.
One vital aspect of your marketing plan is to identify your customers because your marketing efforts have to aim at that segment of the population.
Using the shotgun approach of trying to everyone is a waste of time, energy, and possibly money. For instance, telling romance readers about your new spy thriller isn’t going to sell any books; romance readers aren’t interested in spy thrillers.
I’d estimate that as much as 99 percent of the potential readers will not be interested in your book. You have to identify the remaining one percent and pitch your book to that segment. And one percent of a big number is still a large number of potential customers.
Meanwhile, make sure you have a website. This is how people find books in the 21st century. On it, you need a page for your book. Include the book’s cover, the book blurb, a sample chapter for visitors to read, and most importantly, links to booksellers. You should also have a place where interested folks can download your media kit (you do have one, right?). It would help if you also had your bio on a page.
Another important marketing activity is blogging. Write stuff. Post it. Tell people about the book. You don’t have to always write about your book. Tell people about yourself, about your kids and grandkids, about your prison record (just kidding).
Another interesting topic is to interview your characters. Whatever you write about, make sure you send out messages on social media sites to attract visitors to the site where they may also find out about your book. Having a website covers an important task that would be included in any book marketing plan.
Authors who don’t understand the marketing process are in danger of falling prey to the many scammers who swarm around newbie authors. In their haste to do some marketing, these authors are open to considering this “help.” While many legitimate publicists and public relations companies offer author services, there are just as many scammers. Using slick websites, the scammers offer to set up a Facebook account and get hundreds of friends. Or to set up a Twitter account and get hundreds of followers. All this will cost a lot of money.
These “friends” or “followers” are useless and have no interest in you or your book. Other offers I’ve seen include a package that will establish accounts on sites such as Goodreads, LibraryThing, and many others. They promise to recruit large numbers of followers, friends, etc.
By themselves, authors can set up accounts on these sites in less than five minutes each. Friends and followers will come over time, and these folks will be the ones that are interested in your book. These friends will be much more invaluable than the ones recruited by the scammers.
These ideas don’t constitute a complete marketing plan, but they will get an author started in the right direction.
This material came from Hank Quense’s Marketing Plans for Self-published Books.
Good advice, Hank. I feel a wave of nausea just thinking about book promotion. I guess you just have to know the fine line between being professional and obnoxious. I’d add one more tip, if you don’t mind. Authors on Goodreads should consider giving away a copy or two of a new book. I’ve done this twice with good results. People who may never have heard of your book will sign up to win something free. One of the winners of my first book wrote a great review saying he didn’t like flash fiction until he read my book. I’m forever grateful.
Thanks again for a great article.
You’re right, Kristin. Goodreads is an excellent way to gain exposure trough book giveaways. Alas, Goodreads is still in the 20th Century and doesn’t allow giveaways for ebooks. I’ve run several of them and if I get 50% of the winners to write a review, I think it’s successful. In one giveaway (not on Goodreads) I gave away ten copies of a book and got zero reviews out of it. Reviews for freebies is a crap shoot; you never know what you’ll get.