The wonderful thing about marketing yourself as an author is that there are virtually limitless ways to market your book, garner media attention, and use social media and other platforms to spread the word about your book. Beyond professional media outreach, there are so many tips, ideas, and even tricks and “insider” tactics. Below you will find many ideas and tips, but we urge you to push the limits, get outside your comfort zone as it relates to promoting your book. Remember, all of these ideas are only a starting point!
Using your Author Website to Sell Books
Yes, you DO need a website for book promotion! They don’t have to be expensive or fancy. A clean, professional, and easy-to-navigate website is all you need. “Bells and whistles” were perhaps popular at some times, but they are a distraction to most visitors.
Just like when pitching media, give visitors what they need in as easy a manner as possible.
Websites remain the easiest way for media, readers and valuable connections to get the information they need.
- Create an author website for your fans if you don’t already have one. If you have a WordPress website, get the WordPress Plug-in called MyBookTable to help you sell more books and earn money through affiliates.
- You’ll want to utilize SEO techniques while building your website to make it as visible as possible. Don’t forget to stick to Google’s guidelines for search engine optimization to avoid penalties for your site.
- Write a professional and interesting author bio.
- Add a ‘Store’ page to your website; essentially a compelling advertisement for your book.
- Make your book available to purchase at your online store.
- Come up with ideas for merchandise related to your book(s).
- Host contests where your fans can submit entries for merchandise designs.
- Have pages on your author’s website for book reviews, FAQs, and testimonials.
- Make a ‘Discussion’ page on your website specifically for questions, comments, visitor-posted ideas, and promotional strategies authors have employed.
- Write an advice column on your website for aspiring authors.
- Add buttons to your website that take viewers straight to your social media sites.
- Keep your website clean and easy to navigate (like we try to do with SmithPublicity.com); bells and whistles can be distracting. This applies whether you’ve written non-fiction or a novel; simpler is almost always better.
General Online Ideas for Publicity
It’s no secret that much of where we work, connect, shop, and even gather socially occurs online; therefore, it’s not surprising that you will want a strong online presence! By maximizing your online footprint and growing your virtual platform, you will make yourself visible in a crowded space. Consider all of the resources and options available to make the absolute most of your marketing efforts.
- Have an online book tour and plan a cost-effective online campaign.
- Write a press release and distribute it to online outlets.
- Create monthly newsletters and ask fans to sign up for them.
- Consider if pay-per-click advertising on Google etc. might be appropriate for your book.
- Submit your website to any related group, company, or organization website that has a website directory.
- Start link building by creating valuable resources and building relationships with site owners that would find those resources to be worth sharing.
- Research your competitors to find out what they’re doing to be successful that you’re not.
Simple rule: Blogging rules! Posting regularly to a blog – which should be easy to find via your website – is a great way for any author to stay connected and active online. Blogs lend an educational component to your platform, as they are an ideal way to share your knowledge with others. They are also imperative for effective SEO, as they increase your search visibility through a variety of key words and phrases related to your expertise.
- Create a blog on your website and update it regularly with new, interesting content. Comment on anything that will interest visitors, and cover diverse topics including developments in the publishing industry. Here’s our blog!
- Respond to comments and questions on your blog promptly, and welcome any type of ideas offered in comments.
- Add keywords to your blog posts and follow a DIY SEO plan.
- Guest blog on other popular blogs as a published author promoting one’s book. This can be particularly effective for novel promotion when you guest blog on special interest genre blogs.
- Allow guest bloggers on your blog as a way to reciprocate your book promotion efforts.
- Create an RSS Feed if you don’t already have one, and burn it on Feedburner.com. This will allow you to obtain statistics about your readers.
- Submit your blog to blog directories related to being an author, your genre, etc.
Convert Your Book into an eBook
eBook promotion is a book marketing tool that should not be overlooked. By running an eBook promo, you are likely to attract more attention to your book… which, of course, means more readers. By offering people an incentive to buy and read your eBook, you are increasing not only your book’s exposure, but the number of reviews, recommendations, and ultimately sales.
- BookBub can be used to create a profile for your eBook promo.
Join a Forum
Forums are often an underappreciated, yet equally important, place to connect with fellow authors, others in your industry, and potential readers. There are many forums to be found online, and joining one – and remaining active in participating in it through comments, answering questions, asking questions, etc. – could mean a valuable new group with which to network. If you can’t find the exact forum you’re looking for… create one!
- Create/join a forum (it doesn’t have to be specifically related to books or publishing) and actively participate in its community.
Yes, Facebook is still relevant and remains an important tool for promoting authors. Having a Facebook page for your author brand is beneficial because it lends legitimacy to your book/yourself as a professional and also serves as another way to promote your book and everything that goes along with it: events, giveaways, future projects, and more. It’s important to remain as authentic as possible on Facebook and to engage with your followers – the more you can interact, the better!
- Create a Facebook page geared toward you as an author – not your personal life. Take a look at our Facebook page here.
- Give fans the option to post their book reviews, testimonials, comments, and questions to your Facebook page.
If you have the time to do it right, Twitter can be your most powerful social media tool.Hashtags, particularly, reign supreme on Twitter and are a great way to find potential readers and others to network with, and also to be found. As with other social media platforms, Twitter helps you connect with your community and lends legitimacy to your brand.
- Create a Twitter account to tweet updates about new books, book tours, book trailers, media coverage of you and your book, etc. For example, here’s our Twitter page.
- Provide fans with a hashtag for promoting your new book.
- Use Twitter hashtags for events, news, promotions, etc.
- Use Tweetables:
- Keep your eyes peeled for offers on my new book. I’m going to try some new tips to market my book from @SmithPublicity. – Click to tweet.
- 101 Marketing Tips that will help you sell more books! – Click to tweet.
- These marketing strategies from @SmithPublicity really helped me as a new author. – Click to tweet.
Create a LinkedIn Author Page
LinkedIn is the largest professional networking tool in the world. You can use LinkedIn to attend offline events, write articles, join groups, post videos and photos, and more.
- Create a LinkedIn page to connect to other authors and professionals in the writing world and related industries. LinkedIn has increasingly become the most popular profession networking platform. Remember that LinkedIn is searchable, so incorporate keywords people might search for on your main page. And, post regularly, more is better, but once a week is fine. View our LinkedIn page here.
Promote Your Book on YouTube
YouTube is one of the most powerful search engines on the Internet, and it’s incredibly easy to create video content. Like your website, your videos don’t need to be slickly produced; today, most smartphones can produce nice looking videos that will work fine. As a general rule, keep your videos short – no more than a few minutes. Obviously, if you’re posting a video of a book event you had or a speech you gave, these much longer videos are fine. Like other platforms, YouTube is keyword driven, so make sure you use the video description section to incorporate keywords that people may use to find an author or book like yours.
- Create a YouTube account. Here’s what our YouTube channel looks like.
- Describe your channel and videos. Also create playlists of your videos so that the algorithm can understand it better.
- Link your YouTube videos on your Facebook and Twitter accounts..
- Compile a series of short videos of you discussing topics related to your book. Make them informational, not promotional, and employ them in all marketing services and activities.
Sell Your Book on Amazon
Love it or hate it, every author needs Amazon! Some authors dislike the way Amazon can discount prices, but remember, people want to buy books from sources they trust. You may not make as much from each book sale on Amazon as compared to directly selling them from your website, but you’ll end up making more money because more people will buy from Amazon, and few will likely buy from your website.
- Go to Amazon and register as an author. Be sure to create a compelling and robust author central page.
- Sell your books on Amazon; follow the wealth of information and advice Amazon offers and incorporate ideas into your plan.
- Try to get fans to post their book reviews and testimonials on Amazon.
- Join Amazon’s affiliate program.
Networking, whether the old-fashioned meet and greets or the cyber type, the principle remains the same – make authentic connections with people – the type of people you want to know about you! Networking can lead to a wide variety of opportunities, beyond just spreading word about your book.
- Attend book publishing events and writers’ conferences and distribute information about your book, business cards, etc.
- Offer to speak to your local chamber of commerce about a topic related to your book.
- Check for meet-up groups that relate to your book topic.
- Go to local and regional general networking groups – most areas have professional networking events for a wide variety of businesses, interests, hobbies, etc.
- Check for local activity clubs. You might be surprised how many there are, and these can be great places to potentially offer to speak to the group on a topic related to your group.
Get on Goodreads
Goodreads boasts the world’s largest community of book lovers – so of course, you’ll want to be a part of it! Users of Goodreads can generate reading lists, review books, keep track of the books they’ve read, and more. By having your book available on Goodreads, you will reach a larger audience of book lovers. Think of Goodreads as the virtual “word of mouth” for books; if one user reads and recommends your book, word can spread like wildfire.
- Go to Goodreads and register as an author.
- Develop your profile page by adding a photo and bio.
- Add the Goodreads Author widget to your website.
- Publicize events.
- Promote your books.
- Posts videos.
- Do even more with Goodreads.
Offline Marketing Tips
The Internet is everywhere and affects everything, but believe it or not, there is life outside of the Web! In person connections and conversations are still high valued, and there are many ways you can make the most of face-to-face time and other marketing collateral in the “real world.” Just as there’s no replacement for a turning the pages of a physical book, offline marketing opportunities are not to be underestimated.
- Organize a team for your book launch.
- Contact a local bookstore or other venues about hosting a book release party.
- Go on a book tour.
- Design merchandise for your books and consider a targeted advertisement.
- Make business cards with your photo and addresses to your author’s website and social media profile pages.
- Speak at book clubs about writing in your genre – book genre marketing can be a surprisingly effective addition to your promotional campaign.
- Have book readings for your new book. Some possible venues:
- Retirement homes
- Elementary, junior high, or high schools depending on your target age group
- Coffee shops
- Community colleges
- Nearby universities
- Locally owned bookstores
- Rehab centers
- Google+ Hangout
- The setting (town, city) of your book.
- Community events (i.e. fairs, picnics, festivals)
- Have book signings for your new book.
- Contact your local paper and ask them if they’d be interested in interviewing you.
- Contact the local paper of the town your book is set in about interviewing you.
- Contact your local radio station and ask them if they’d be interested in having you on their show. (These radio interview tips can help if you get on the air.)
- Contact the local radio station of the town your book is set in about having you on their show.
- Create an affiliate program.
- Join an affiliate program.
- Partner with organizations, clubs, and other groups that support a cause similar to the one that your book addresses.
Book Publicity for the Fans – Ideas and Strategies
Fans can be your evangelists … spreading the word about your book far and wide! You want to create authentic relationships and cater to your fanbase, because they are the most important asset you have.
- Offer your devoted fans sneak previews of your new book.
- Offer your devoted fans advance copies of your new book.
- Have a page on your website for short stories, and add a new one every week or month depending on your schedule.
- Promote each weekly short story on Facebook and Twitter.
- Host a contest for topic suggestions for your weekly short story.
- Host a contest for the best short story where the winner will have his/her story featured on your website.
- Link to the winner’s story on your social media pages.
- Have free book give-away contests for your fans and website visitors.
- Celebrate your fans by featuring a Fan of the Month on your website and social media profiles.
- Host a contest for the best illustration of a scene from one of your books where the winner will have his/her illustration featured on your website.
- Link to the winner’s illustration on your social media pages.
- Host a contest for the best book trailer where the winner will have his/her trailer featured on your website.
- Link to the winner’s book trailer on your social media pages.
- Host a contest where your fans can submit a movie of them acting their favorite scene in one of your books and feature the winner on your website.
- Link to the winner’s movie on your social media pages.
- Host a costume contest around Halloween for the best costume of one of your major characters where the winner will be featured on your website.
- Link to the winner’s picture of him/her in the costume on your social profiles.
- Create fan pages for the main characters in your book.
- Ask fans to post pictures of them reading your book.
- Get to know your fans even better by polling them on their likes, dislikes, and opinions on your ideas for books or promotions.
- Write a book specifically for your fans.
- Write a book that your fans can customize by picking what happens next.
Go the Extra Mile
Marketing a book is more a marathon than a sprint; it takes time, persistent effort, and dedication. Even if you hire a professional book publicist, you still need to be involved and helping promotion with your own activities. Sustained, well-planned and diverse book promotion will almost always lead to positive things.
- Make a book trailer, or hire a professional to make one.
- Offer to write articles for a magazine related to your genre.
- Host a seminar for aspiring writers.
- Host a webinar.
- Advertise on a low-cost billboard.
- Become a featured content writer for some websites related to your genre, being an author, writing your first book, etc.
- Donate your books to places where your target audience is located:
- Elementary, junior high, or high schools
- Daycare centers
- Libraries in the town where your book is set in
- Community centers
- Senior centers
- Retirement communities
- Homeless shelters
- Local colleges
- Colleges in the town where your book is set in
- Children’s hospitals
- Utilize publicity services like Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
Podcasts are booming in popularity! They represent a great opportunity for authors because they allow for long-form, uninterrupted interviews and casual conversation. They are also becoming a popular tool for authors who create their own podcasts.
- Do some basic Google searches to find podcasts that pertain to your book, then reach out and offer yourself as a guest. Keep in mind that popular podcasts book guests months in advance, so contact them early.
- Listen to educational podcasts that will help you learn about books and marketing, such as “All Things Book Marketing”
- Check out authors in your genre who have podcasts.
- Start your own podcast! It’s not as hard as you think. For an example of this, check out our Spreaker podcast.
- Invest in some low-cost editing software for podcasts such as Wavepad.
Some Tricks of the Trade
As professional book publicists,the experts at Smith Publicity have developed many creative ways to get attention for a book. Remember to think outside the box and expand your comfort level.
- Send your book to a producer or editor via Fed Ex or UPS – it is much more likely to be opened.
- If you’re pitching to be on a radio or TV show and your book is fiction, lead with why you’d be a great interview, and don’t announce that you’ve written a novel. Broadcasts outlets are more inclined to interview non-fiction authors, so make them love your pitch and not focus on the kind of book you’ve written.
- When sending a book to a media contact, print or write “requested material” on the envelope
- Leave a copy of your book on a train or bus, and put a sticker on it that says “Free book, please pass along when done.”
- Listen to talk radio, watch TV interview shows, read magazines and newspapers, review online news sites … and see how other authors are being featured!
Literary Marketing Facts
Your mind is now hopefully opened to alternative, unique and fun ways to promote your book. You can take any of the above ideas and use them as starting points on how to sell more copies of your book and develop even more. Successful indie authors don’t rely on one way to market themselves. They don’t rely on just the traditional; they explore, innovate, and most importantly, take chances and have fun in the process.
Above are seven facts we offer on book publicity and marketing that come from our 25+ years of experience working on more than 4,000 books since our founding in 1997.
- First, we know authors can sometimes become hung up on the size of a media audience, and believe national media is always the best way to sell books. But for many nonfiction books, a small, niche outlet that covers the topic of a book can have a huge impact on sales.
- Second, the media need authors as much as authors need media. For example, as much as 50-percent of a newspaper article often comes from a press release. The releases come from PR people and authors — without them, many print outlets wouldn’t exist.
- Third, book promotion is more a marathon than a sprint. It takes time to fully promote a book. Whether on your own or with a professional publicist, expect to be promoting your book in some way for at least four months.
- Fourth, podcasts are becoming a staple of book publicity campaigns because their audiences are exploding and they focus on specific topics. The long-form, free-flowing interviews on podcasts are excellent for authors.
- Fifth, authors and publishers have choices for book promotion. Publicity firms come in various sizes and offer different pricing options. Thoroughly investigate all of your options and take your time deciding what’s right for you.
- Sixth, except for book publicity services based on specific numbers of media placements, be wary if you hear a guarantee from a prospective publicist. The reality is there are very few guarantees in book publicity. Don’t be scared away — but be aware.
- Seventh, publicists need authors too. During publicity campaigns, authors need to be involved, available, and accessible.
No two books and authors are alike and everyone needs to follow a unique approach to publicity and promotion. But with the vast number of potential campaign tactics, you can find success marketing yourself as an author. Creativity and pro-activeness are best. Always push your limits and go beyond your comfort zone to successfully market your book.