Authors who print and publish for the first time often face another uphill battle; marketing their new book. The internet has drastically changed the ways books are brought to market. Barriers for authors have been greatly reduced and in some cases eliminated. If you’re a new author in need of some tips for getting your book in front of more eyeballs, check out our 7 suggestions below.
Research Your Audience
Before you can reach your audience you have to know something about them. Spend some time researching who they are, what kinds of content they like, how old they are, demographics, etc. There are a lot of very fancy ways to gather market information but for most authors working with a budget of “free”, those methods aren’t practical.
Authors can use social media to try and find out more about their audience. Once you have networks that are up and running and active, pay close attention to what content people are interacting with. What do they share, comment on, like, re-tweet, favorite, re-pin, etc.? Sites like Facebook feed even more detailed demographic information right to you with their Insights analytics platform.
Twitter has a similar tool at analytics.twitter.com.
Over time, authors can start to see data pile up and actually draw conclusions from it. They can use that information to tailor social posts, blog posts, videos and other content they push out about their title.
Use Social Media
You knew this strategy would be in here and for good reason. Billions of people use social media platforms to communicate with one another. Some of the world’s largest and most successful brands use them for marketing. The best part is that a savvy author can use them for free to get exposure for their book.
Authors should try and market their title on as many platforms that they can however they shouldn’t just go to a network because it’s what everyone is doing. As mentioned earlier, make sure your audience is present on the network. Spend some time “listening” on networks to make sure people who will want to buy your book are active there.
You can do this in a variety of ways:
- Use search features on sites like Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and others to find what people are posting about. See if the content is related to what you write about.
- Find authors who do similar work to yours and see if they are having success marketing on a particular platform (obviously that is subjective but if they have a ton of followers and lots of engagement, it’s safe to say you should be on that network too).
- Look for groups that are relevant to your work on social platforms and create profiles there.
Once you know which platforms you will be marketing your book on, create profiles and start coming up with a strategy and content. Posting to social networks is a must and you should make a point to post a certain number of times each week. That will vary based on the audience and the network but in general you’ll be doing it daily.
Posting however is not enough. By definition, social networks are not a one-way street. Authors need to be able to develop thoughtful conversations with their audience. That means prompting conversations, asking questions, engaging with the content of others, sharing the content of others and things like that. Remember too that you should not be completely self-promotional. Follow the 80/20 rule where 80% of the content you post is not self-promotional and the other 20% is promoting your title or yourself as an author.
Build an Email List
Email is a great way to get a personal audience with your market. Getting emails can be tricky though. Fortunately for authors, they already have something built to collect emails; their book. A good way to get relevant members of a target market to give you their email is to offer something for free. Try offering a piece of your book as a free download in exchange for a name and email.
You can do this by using a small monthly investment and a combination of web services.
Aweber is an automated email marketing platform that allows you to create personalized email messages that can be sent to subscribers when they fill out a contact form. It integrates with Leadpages.net (more on this in a moment) and authors can hand-craft a series of email messages. You can start a subscription to Aweber for about 20 bucks a month.
This is a service that allows you to build really great looking landing pages. Some templates are specifically designed to offer ebooks. You can make a PDF out of a few chapters of your book and promote it on a landing page for visitors to download. Once they enter their name and email, they are sent your first Aweber email with a download link to the PDF and voila! You have their name and email that allows you to market to them on a regular basis. A basic Leadpages account is about 37 dollars per month.
Authors can also find other ways to gather emails. It won’t be as easy as using these services but as long as you stay organized (and honest with the people whom you’ve collected emails from), you can successfully market your book to them.
Start an Author Website
If you do nothing else on this list, you should at least start an author website. This allows you to control all the content that people see and provides for a central hub where you can drive traffic. It also allows you to have a platform where you can make transactions.
The internet has changed the way that books are marketed and it has also changed the way that websites are built. That means that you don’t have to be a programming wizard to build a nice website. The following services are perfect for building highly attractive and functional websites for free.
That’s just the short list and there are many other free website builders available. Author should make a website that features their book, an about page, and a blog.
Blog, Blog, Blog
- It provides content that can be shared on social media
- It provides a channel for people to subscribe to and follow
- It will help an author promote their site in search
There is more to that last point. Search engines love fresh content and by adding a blog post on a weekly basis, authors can start having more pages showing up in search results. By crafting posts around specific concepts and keyword phrases, they can start to rank those pages in search. If the content is good enough, other website owners will start building links to the blog and its posts.
Authors can then place calls to action in the side bar of their blog or at the end of posts. These calls to action can be links to download the author’s book.
Marketing your book is just like marketing any other product. You have to hit the bricks, talk with people, make connections and that will lead to more opportunities for exposure. There are lots of places authors can market in person and the internet also makes that process a little faster.
- Attend writers conferences: some people say that conferences that are marketed toward writers aren’t always the best events so do your homework on who will actually be there. Also, sometimes these are paid and sometimes they’re free.
- Attend other literary events: You’ll have to search for events in your local area. Check out the closest major metropolitan city to you for upcoming events.
The key things to remember for getting the most out of these events is to make an impression and meet people. Work on a seven second presentation about your book that you can deliver at a moment’s notice to someone you’ve just met. Make cheap business cards and bring them with you (even if it’s just your name, email and links to social accounts on it – be creative).
Authors can network in the digital space as well and most of that happens on social media. Instead of posting on a regular profile though, seek out groups that you can belong to.
- Join LinkedIn groups for authors
- Google Plus has some communities for authors that are pretty active
- Search Facebook for groups that you can contribute to
- Seek out writer or publisher forums that you can be a part of
A sure fire way to not be successful networking online is to post spam. That means content that is “me” oriented. Authors should start off in a group helping others. Seek out questions that others have and answer them. Over a short period of time, you’ll build credibility with the group and people will pay more attention when you post things that are promotional about your book or yourself as an author. It takes time to build this rapport but the rewards are long-lasting.
Work With Other Authors
Teaming up with other authors is a great way to pool resources and get more reach for your book than you could have on your own. This works even better if you team up with an author who has been through the process before.
- Reach out to other authors on social media or in forums
- Use your own sphere of influence (the people you already know) to find partner
- Find people at networking or publishing events that would be interested in sharing resources
No matter who you team up with, make sure you set expectations. Put your agreement in writing so there is no confusion as to who is contributing what and what you are both getting out of the deal. Nothing kills a business deal faster than when one party feels like they aren’t getting what they were promised.
Are you a new author or a publishing industry veteran? What tips do you have for marketing a book?