Congratulations! You’ve made it—you’ve published (or will soon publish) your book. It’s been a long journey, and now you’re about to set off on another voyage: marketing your book.
Marketing in an ongoing commitment all self-published authors must take on to 1) get their book in the hands of readers and 2) keep sales momentum going once the initial surge passes.
For self-published authors, sales are typically highest when the book is first released. (That’s when the people you know and the target audience of your book are buying.) So, the trick is continuing to find creative ways to spread the word.
To help you get started, here’s five marketing ideas geared toward building connections with new readers:
- Connect with local tastemakers. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, especially when those words come from tastemakers—people and organizations who have influence over what is or will become fashionable. In the book world, that includes book bloggers, local radio hosts and news outlets, book clubs, storeowners, librarians, social media influencers … anyone with a connection to your book’s content. When your book is published, research local tastemakers and pitch it to those who will likely be interested. For example, if you’ve published a book on local history, your town’s newspaper, radio station, and historical society will want to know. Find the best way to connect with tastemakers and start sending your pitch—email, call, message over social media. You never know what will lead to an interview, a review, or an event on an influencer’s platform.
- Seek reviews. Speaking of reviews, they are also an extremely powerful marketing tool. According to MarketWatch, 97% of online shoppers say reviews influence their buying decisions. So if your book is listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s website, Goodreads, or another online platform, always encourage readers you meet to leave a review. Also research book bloggers and literary magazines that cover your genre. Discover whether they take submissions. If they do, follow their submission guidelines and send your book in for an honest review. It can be nerve-wracking to ask someone to review your book, but the risk can really pay off. A review from an unbiased source gives you credibility and gets the word about your book in front of a wider audience.
- Partner with local stores and libraries. Is there a bookstore or library in your area? Set up a meeting and see if they’d be interested in partnering with you on an event, like a book signing, a reading, or a sale. They may also buy copies of your book, which is a win. And if the store or library has an active social media presence, they may promote your book on their platform, putting it in front of an even bigger crowd of book lovers. No matter what form the partnership takes, connecting with stores and libraries is a great way to reach new readers. Just remember: Always start with a call or email—don’t just show up at the location, tempting as that is in your enthusiasm to share your book. You’re more likely to be positively received if you give the storeowners or librarians a chance to prepare and set up a meeting that works with their schedule.
- Establish an active online presence. A blog, a website, a podcast, a YouTube channel, social media pages—whether you use one of these platforms or all of them, it’s important to keep them up to date. Sites that are frequently active are more credible to readers and more likely to be found. A good rule of thumb is to blog or post a video once a month (or more often, if your schedule allows), and post to social media a few times a week. And if you don’t have an online presence? You may miss out on connecting with a wide group of readers in our digitized world. Consider dipping your toe in with one of the platforms listed above. If you do take the plunge, be sure to pick something you’ll feel comfortable using and updating.
- Attend author fairs. Author fairs large and small are popping up across the country. These events are like craft shows—authors set up booths, display and sell their books, and talk to patrons and fellow authors. Not only are they a great opportunity to drum up sales, author fairs give you the chance to network with and learn from others who are also trying to market their books. You’ll make friends … and maybe swap some ideas! The best way to learn about author fairs is to research online and keep in touch with any connections you’ve built in the book world. Annual events in Iowa include the Ankeny Authors Fair and Des Moines Book Festival, which both take place in the spring.
Marketing is a long-term commitment, but it can also be fun! These five ideas are just a few of the many creative ways self-published authors have found to get their books in the hands of readers. If you’re interested in getting some help with your marketing campaign, check out the Write Place’s list of book marketing services or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.