Writing a book is a tedious endeavor that involves long hours of character and story development, editing, rewriting, and often overcoming writer's block at a crucial junction in the plot. The result of the hard work is a tale that hopefully evokes distinct emotions amongst readers, transporting them to a world seen through the author's eyes.
While readers appreciate the magical aspect of books, writing and publishing stories is also a business. Just like any other industry, it cannot sustain for long unless it's profitable. Aiding the book industry in its attempt to stay afloat is marketing; gone are the days when the author's job was done once they turned in their final draft. Now, irrespective of whether it is a debut novel or one backed by a publishing house, marketing a book is almost as important as writing it.
Here's the thing about book marketing, you simply can't leave it till the end. If you want your "product" to do well, you'll have to stir up a conversation around it long before it is available. As a first-time author, you must plan your marketing campaign while you are still writing your book. Yes, it needs to start that early!
To talk about your book and its concept with potential readers, you need a place where they can visit regularly. A blog or designated author website is thus your first point of contact. It is also the place to post updates on your life, the progress of the book, and interact with fans by answering their questions. At a later stage, you can use the website to release the cover of the book or create interest by hosting competitions and giveaways. The more you engage with fans on the site with the latest happenings, the better it is from a long-term book marketing perspective.
When starting to write, you are more than likely to have a reasonably good idea of your genre. Whether it is a YA novel or a sinister read, with a readership in mind, you can focus on attracting the right audience. This will mainly come in handy when you start approaching bloggers for ARC reviews before publishing the book.
Having a website is a great first move, but don't expect people to visit it all the time. When you are looking at how to market a book, remember that a proactive approach gives the best results. Therefore, start building an emailing list from the first day. Begin by including family and friends and then add a pop-up form on your website. Whenever you come across someone who might be helpful in the future, ask for their email and permission to add them to the list.
An email list is of no use unless you maximize its potential. Send a periodic newsletter, and similar to your website, use it to inform your followers about the book's progress.
Social media is another aspect of book marketing that requires special attention. It is the ideal way to reach a wider audience without having to spend too much money. You do need time and patience, though. Here are various marketing tips for authors who want to increase their reach via social media:
Start with creating a Facebook Page. It works somewhat like a website but is more direct and will pop up on your followers' timeline whenever you update it. Visual content is popular, and to increase interaction post photos and videos as much as possible.
Several Facebook groups cater to authors, readers, and every other part of the publishing business. Join them, read their rules, and use them tactfully to spread awareness of your work. These groups are particularly helpful for exchanging notes with other authors and learning tricks that have helped them increase sales.
Twitter is a social channel where authors and readers are very active. Unfortunately, it takes time to increase your following, especially for new authors. Nevertheless, good book marketing requires that you participate in conversations taking place on Twitter. Hashtags such as #WritersLift, #WritingCommunity, and #AmWriting are all about authors discussing and promoting their books. Then there are book chats such as The Sunday Book Club or #TSBC that are more about general bookish topics and give you a better idea of what readers like or dislike.
Instagram is also an excellent medium through which you can reach several book lovers. It does involve being creative. However, posting photos and short videos regularly and using hashtags such as #bookstagram can build up hype around your book before its release.
An essential part of being on social media is finding the perfect balance and not advertising your book all the time. The idea is to be an active member. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin, or Twitter, talk about all types of books, support other authors using shoutouts, and occasionally use the channels for your own book marketing.
Contrary to popular belief, a lot many people do judge a book by its cover. In fact, an amateur book cover results in an adverse reaction from book promotion services and readers. Therefore, hire an artist and work with them to create a few professional-looking book covers.
Your book marketing strategy doesn't end with merely hiring a cover artist. Use the cover as an excuse to create a buzz amongst your followers. Hold a poll asking which cover they like best. Whether they like the design, the colors, typography, and then go back to the drawing board and fix it based on what the majority tells you. If you have a couple of good covers, use one to re-launch the book later to attract new readers.
When writing a second or third book in a series, if you feel that there is noise around certain characters, it is worth looking into merchandising. Not only does it bring about extra income, but it is an excellent marketing tip for authors who want to grow their audience beyond the readers who liked the first book in the series.
Once the book is nearing completion, it is vital to give due importance to the cover's overall look. Besides the design, focus on having a blurb at the back that is succinct and intriguing enough to entice a reader to purchase the book.
Another book marketing tactic is to have quotes by famous people on the cover. Work on it as you write the end of the book, so you can gather a few quotes from celebrity authors and then use them as a selling point.
Once your book is ready, it is time to devote more energy to marketing it. If your budget allows, get a team together to assist you. There is always the possibility of asking friends and family to do the same. Remember, you will need to send countless emails, interact on social media, and partake in events, so do not hesitate to take any support you get.
A critical step near the release of your book is the distribution channel you want to adopt. Whether you pick Amazon KDP, go the traditional publisher way, or self-publish, your marketing technique can differ accordingly. Each of the options come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Spend some time talking to other authors and choose the alternative that works best for you.
When wondering how to market a book before its release, start with making advanced reader's copies available. ARCs work on multiple levels. Firstly, they get the word out in the book community about your new novel. Secondly, it allows you to gather reviews on blogs and Amazon. Most importantly, this is when you can make minor adjustments to the book, be it in terms of fixing typos or changing an element of the story that is not going down well with readers.
A cost-effective way to advertise the availability of ARCs is through your social media. If you don't want to spend too much time, pick a service like NetGalley that does the job for you. You will still have to promote the book, but don't have to worry about the logistics.
A blog tour is another brilliant marketing tip for authors. In this case, you choose a handful of bloggers who agree to review your book and then publish the review on their websites on a particular date. A blog tour allows more in-depth advertising as in addition to a book review, the bloggers are also interested in author interviews and giveaways that typically attract more readers to participate.
Once again, since we are moving towards more visual content, a trailer can be the ideal book marketing method for promotions on YouTube channels. You can also share the same book trailer on other social media outlets for broader coverage. A typical video runs for less than a minute and is enough to encourage a reader to search for the book online. As is the case with book covers, make it professional for maximum impact.
A month or two before the book release is also when you use your mailing lists and social media following to their full capacity. It is now that you must contact book bloggers who can broadcast the release of your upcoming novel through press releases, giveaways, ARC reviews, and author interviews. You can also use BookSirens' book blogger lists to search for genre-specific bloggers and ask them to review your book in advance. Bloggers are the heart of the book world and keep the industry moving, contacting them early gives you a significant book marketing advantage.
An ever-growing community of book lovers and authors, What Should I Read Next is the ideal partner to spread the word about your book. With a regular blog, quotes feature, author interviews, and discussions, the website brings together authors and influential readers in a more intimate manner, allowing for deeper conversations that go beyond the story and characters of the book.
No one else knows about your feelings at the time of a book release better than a fellow author. The book world is a close-knit community, and while there are the occasional scandals, most writers are willing to help each other out. Make the most of this opportunity and collaborate with them. You can exchange and share book information, reviews, and promote work to capitalize on each other's fan following.
So far, we have been looking at unique methods of advertising books. There are obviously direct book marketing techniques that one should apply. These include taking part in book events, going on the radio or popular book podcasts, and holding readings at local bookstores.
Moreover, thanks to Amazon and Facebook advertising, you can now reach your target audience directly. While it does involve spending money, the returns can be quite pleasant.
We're not talking about social celebrities but journalists and book reviewers for prominent publications like the New York Times. Although they get several books for review daily, the right cover, blurb, or theme might make them pick your book up and write about it. It's a gamble, but the returns can be quite monumental and certainly worth the investment of sending around a few physical copies of your book.
Aiming for a successful book marketing strategy, you must shed your inhibitions and learn to work for the crowd. Even famous authors, backed by publishers, have to spend a considerable amount of time promoting their books. Still, it's good practice to endorse your book subtly, instead of constantly asking people to read or review it.