You worked hard writing, editing, and rewriting your book. You’re ready to publish and watch your book fly off the shelves, because a great book should practically sell itself, right?
The truth is that every great book needs a little help, and books that sell well owe their success to effective marketing strategies. You may not like to think about your book as a product you’re selling, but it is.
If you work with a traditional publishing house, your publisher will enact a marketing strategy for your book, but many of the tips below still apply in terms of ways you can help. If you’re self-publishing, on the other hand, your marketing strategy is entirely up to you.
Do You Really Need to Market Your Book?
If you choose not to market your self-published book, your book won’t sell. It’s that simple. No one gets by on word of mouth alone. The internet has become flooded with information and books galore. Your book will never rank online without a carefully planned marketing strategy. It will instead be buried underneath books whose authors took the time to market them.
Sure, maybe a few people will happen across your book, but a large percentage of potential readers will remain unreached.
Yes, you need great marketing to sell your book.
Marketing is hard work, but it pays dividends by growing your fan base and building your connections with fellow writers, editors, bloggers, influencers, and many other great people.
Maybe you’re not interested in fame, but it stands to reason that if only a few people read your book, you’re not going to make any money off of it. If you took the time to invest in professional editing or proofreading and cover design, or even if you count up all the hours you spent working on the book, don’t you want a return on your investment?
Effective Marketing Starts With You
Later on in this post, we break down how you can work with a team to market your book, but for now, let’s focus on what you can do personally, because the primary factor determining how well your book sells is you.
Of course, the quality of the book itself matters, too. Going into the discussion below, we assume you’ve invested in editing and design services to put out a professional product for your readers. If you don’t know where to start, check out our overview of resources for self-publishers.
Once your book is ready to go, here are some key marketing strategies to consider.
1. Price your book effectively.
This discussion refers specifically to Amazon, which is the most popular online book-selling platform, but it can apply to other platforms, as well.
Self-published authors should consider taking advantage of Amazon’s free book promotion program, which involves featuring your book free for readers for up to five days. While you won’t make any profit from this promotion period, it can increase your exposure and potentially earn you some reviews.
When the promotion ends, price your book low to build your customer base until you start to see steady sales. A price of 99¢ is a great place to start. Then you can experiment with raising the price, taking into consideration how your price will affect your royalties. Ideally, you’ll achieve a balance between an attractive price for readers and one that allows you to take advantage of the highest royalty rate offered by your platform.
2. Make an author website.
Setting up a website and blog helps you connect genuinely with your readers while promoting your books. Just like a store has a storefront display, your author website can help people find you and your book. Consider using a paid hosting service, such as Bluehost or GoDaddy, but you can take advantage of free website-building tools such as WordPress to build a simple site yourself.
Using your book website and blog, you can...
Share your book’s Amazon or landing page
Connect with readers and promote your book by blogging
Inform followers about upcoming projects
Use Amazon’s affiliate program and share links to get commissions on book sales
Share blog posts, articles, or videos about your book
Gather email subscribers for your mailing list
3. Send out newsletters and updates over email.
We’ve mentioned above that you can use your website or blog to gather the email addresses of readers interested in hearing from you. Consider leaving a note at the back of your book encouraging readers to join your mailing list, as readers love to feel connected with the author. You can continue to build your mailing list with each book launch.
4. Connect with relevant influencers.
Influencers are online personalities who have gained a niche following. Many are ordinary people who are adept at social media and use it to share their passions with others. As far as promoting your book goes, you’ll want to connect with other writers, book reviewers, podcasters, and book bloggers who can help get the word out about your book.
Reach out and connect with those influencers, and be bold when asking them to help you promote your book:
Send free copies of your book in exchange for reviews.
Offer to appear on their channels or podcasts.
Write guest posts for their blogs.
Just as you need help promoting your book, influencers appreciate help finding great new content to share with their followers. You can support each other!
5. Use social media.
Social media has become a great marketing tool over the past decade or so. You can use your personal account or set up a business account to market your book, and our advice is to focus on using the two or three platforms where your target audience is most active, cross-linking to your personal website and mailing list where possible.
Check out our tips below on how to use each platform effectively:
Post regular, relatable tweets.
Like and respond to others’ tweets.
Use hashtags your target audience is using.
Use relevant hashtags.
Post photos with questions or quotes that encourage followers to engage.
Like and comment on others’ posts.
Create a page specifically for your book.
Post videos related to your book or writing.
Try using Facebook Live to engage personally with your audience
Link your blog and Instagram posts.
Create and link relevant pins to your website.
Repin content related to your book.
Create boards about your book.
Use keywords in your pins.
Explore group boards.
Share useful writing tips and books.
Link to your blog posts and others that are helpful.
Connect with writers, publishers, and colleagues in your genre.
Link to or host your blog on your site.
Create an email sign-up link on each page.
Have one page dedicated to updates on your latest book.
Successful Marketing Is a Team Effort
Below, we break down how you can engage a team to market your book. Your marketing team can help you in a number of ways:
Suggesting promotional ideas
Reading your book and providing insights on how to reach your audience
Sharing your book with others and encouraging them to leave a review
Connecting with followers on social media to promote your book
If you’re just starting out as an author, your team may be small, comprising friends, family, and people you know personally. However, as you build your audience, you can recruit readers, followers, and other members of your network to your team. Your marketing team should scale with your goals as an author.
1. Set up a way to communicate with your team.
People interested in helping you market your book should be able to join a Facebook group or other platform where they can communicate with you and each other.
Consider taking the time to make a short welcome video thanking your team and sharing some behind-the-scenes snippets from your writing life. Your team is providing an invaluable service and should know how grateful you are and how passionate you are about sharing your book with readers.
Make it easy for readers and followers to join your team by providing a page on your website letting readers know how they can contact you and help support your work. If a reader wants to help promote your book, he or she should be able to get in touch with you easily via email to join your team.
2. Form a clear marketing strategy.
You must be able to communicate your marketing goals clearly to your team. Aside from your Facebook group, consider setting up an exclusive mailing list just for communicating with your team members.
Below are some goals you could have for your team:
Sharing quotes from your book on social media
Writing an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or elsewhere
Reviewing your book on their YouTube channels, blogs, or social media
Sharing your book with their friends or followers
Providing feedback about your marketing strategy and success
Your goals should be posted somewhere clearly so team members can act on them and help you achieve them. Consider establishing a hashtag your team will use when posting on social media about your book, too. This will help them connect with each other on other platforms and will help you find the places where your marketing strategy is working.
3. Reward your team members for their hard work.
Your team should know you appreciate them. Here are some ideas for ways to reward your team members for their marketing work:
Follow and interact with team members on social media
Schedule an exclusive Facebook Live session for your team
Offer team members a discount on all your books
Shout out your team in your acknowledgements
Send signed physical copies of your book to members who go above and beyond
Never Stop Writing!
The last and most important step in marketing your book is to keep writing. Publishing another book will build your audience and network and give readers more opportunities to find you.
A reader who discovers you through your second book is likely to be interested in your first book, and vice versa. Keep your website updated with links to all your books, and provide links at the end of your eBooks so readers can easily find your other work.
Demonstrating your commitment to providing more great experiences for your readers will make them eager to see what you come out with next.