Just the word ‘marketing’ sends nervous shivers down the backs of many authors. It’s something you know you need to do – something really quite vital to your book’s success – but chances are you’re putting it off. You might be procrastinating because you have no idea where to start, because you don’t think of yourself as a marketing strategist but a creative, because it seems intimidating, or because any number of different reasons, but either way – it’s not getting done, is it?
Don’t worry, we don’t blame you. When you’re new to this writing thing you have so much to think about – How do you publish your book? Do you need an editor? What are beta readers and why does everyone say you need them? – that marketing likely takes a step back. Marketing happens after your book is out, right? Why worry about it before you approve your book on Amazon when there is everything else to do?
I know. I, and every author below (or ever), have been in the same place at one point. But the truth is that marketing happens at just about every stage of your bookish career – certainly after you’ve published your book (*high five!*), but also before you get to that stage.
So what can you do? Where do you start? The eleven authors below are here to help you with just that! Marketing is daunting, and chances are it always will be, but hopefully after reading this post you’ll feel a little more confident, and maybe even see the fun side! (I promise you, it exists if you know where to look.)
My personal recommendation is social media. Create a blog, sign up for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – whichever works best for you – before your book is out, and start mentioning here and there that you’re a writer with a book in the works. I can’t stress how wonderful the writing community is. I know signing up and declaring you’re a writer can be pretty scary, but I promise you we’ll catch you and welcome you with cookies and kittens (and tea/coffee, naturally). You’ll be glad you’ve joined, trust me. The sooner you can do this, the better. Your release day may seem like a long way off when you’ve only just finished your first draft, but that’s precisely why that’s the ideal time to start promoting. Think of it this way – if you wait until your book is out, no one will know it exists on release day. But if you create a blog, post regularly, and have at least a small but intrigued social media following by release day, then those are people who do know about your book! There may not be many if it’s your first book, but a few are better than none.
There’s only one thing you need to be on social media, and that’s yourself. Make sure your posts are genuine, avoid posting nothing but “My book is awesome! You have to read it NOW!”, and you’ll find your people (sometimes refered to as your tribe) in no time!
If you want to catch up with me on social media, glance over to the left-hand side – you’ve got all my links right there 😉
But let’s hear from the other eleven authors, shall we? (My thanks to all of you again for stopping by and sharing your insights <3 )
Nadia L. King, Author of Jenna’s Truth
A surprise that came with becoming a writer is the need for public speaking. When my debut book was published last year, I was most surprised by how much public speaking I needed to undertake. As writers, we often prefer to stay in the worlds we create in our heads. This isn’t always possible. We have to become adept at public speaking. No matter how shy you are, you will have public speaking engagements. The greater the public’s exposure to your book and to you, the more likely readers will ‘buy-in’ to your book. So get ready for radio and TV interviews, library talks, and school visits. You can have the fanciest, most sophisticated author website on the planet, but nothing beats the human touch. If we are truly to connect with our readers, we will need to speak to them and more often than not, this will require us to speak publicly.
Speaking engagements in Australia are paid and minimum rates are set by the Australian Society of Authors. Let schools and public libraries know you are available for talks by personally contacting them and providing details of what you cover in your talks and the audience you target. Remember, exposure is a powerful tool so use it when opportunities arise. So dear friends, get ready, feel the fear and do it anyway. Your book asks it of you.
Anna B. Madrise, Author of The Hatter’s Wife
Book marketing in today’s day and age, has become a business in and of itself. There are whole websites, presentations, and companies, slated towards the “how-to’s” an author should follow to market their book. What they don’t tell you, is whether you are self-pub, tradish, or hybrid, you – the author – are going to be doing a good deal amount of your own marketing, on your own.
My first tip? Start with one social media site and get really good at using it. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (yes there are authors who are doing fabulous on Pinterest!) pick one, and learn EVERYTHING you can about how to use that social media site as a place to market your books.
My second tip? Schedule time each week that you set aside to actually “do” the marketing of your book. Don’t try to pile it on top of writing days or research days, it will only overwhelm and frustrate you. It needs to be treated with the same importance as when you sit down to work on your manuscripts. In some cases, after your book is published, it starts to become more important because finding your audience, that will read your work, is the foundation to your author business.
Finally, enjoy the process. You became a writer/author for a reason. Don’t be afraid to showcase all your hard work to the world. Go in with a positive attitude and you will be rewarded much the same, in return.
Marketing starts before a book is released. It doesn’t matter how much you are going to spend advertising, if your potential readers aren’t attracted to it, they aren’t going to buy. Period. So, what do you need? First, a well-designed cover. Unless you’re a talented artist, don’t create your own cover. It will look self-published, and in this business, that’s bad. If your budget is limited, spend most of it on a good cover. Also – edit, edit, edit. Spelling, grammar mistakes, or timeline discrepancies give the reader the impression you don’t care. They might buy your first book, but they most likely won’t get the next.
Once it’s released, social media will be your best friend. It’s free, so use it. Try to build your follower base to at least 500 to 1000 before you release. And please, don’t make every post or tweet about your book. Let them see your personality. The more they think you’re someone they could hang out with, the more willing they are to not only read your books, but give you reviews as well. Reviews are what sell your books to the rest of the world. So treat your followers with respect, and be personal. I only post about my book when I have something to share. Updates on new releases, promotions or sales, new cover reveals, etc. I also recommend having a blog and writing about anything but your books. It gives your fans something to read while they wait for the sequel.
Cultivating self-belief is one of the most daunting tasks as an Independent Author, but, inevitably, one of the first to master. Your story, your words, your thoughts are of course personal; therefore marketing your book is also promoting you.
The obvious place to start is with your loyal friends and family, but regards to onward marketing, think local. It’s important in the early stages to establish a readership, a following, a core group of readers who will eagerly ‘read & rave’ about your work. Once your book is in the hands of a reader, it becomes theirs; it now, no longer belongs solely to you. This is your greatest connection and tool.
Create an eye-catching Press Release, you will find numerous templates online. Think punchy and to the point – ‘who, what, when and why’. This is your press tool. Check out your local newspapers & magazines for spotlight features, book reviews and entertainment features. These are invaluable, some may jump at the chance of a local interest editorial, some may ask for an advertorial – you pay for a small advert and they give you a read up, creating a win-win situation.
All forms of media whether traditional print, or online social are a truly valuable source. Once mastered, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram will be your best buddies. But be caution, your time is precious, you are a writer, so make sure you dedicate time for writing.
RK Ride, Author of the Stella series
To be honest, the least favourite part of my publishing journey has to be marketing! But, I quickly realised that if I wanted people to enjoy the story I’d created, I had to get my head around the fact that I needed to let readers know my book was out there. And one way I discovered to accomplish that, was not through ‘selling’ but through ‘connecting’. Connecting with not only potential readers, but with fellow authors too. As authors, we are not in competition with each other. When you consider how many books a voracious reader can devour in a year, compared to how many books one author can write, it makes a whole lot of sense to collaborate with and support other authors.
A common medium to connect with others is through Social Media, and while it is a fabulous medium, it can also be a huge time suck. Early on in my marketing journey, I spent a lot of time on social media, but I found that my time spent was often grossly disproportionate to the amount of sales made. Now I focus my time and attention on growing my email list so that I can connect with my followers on a much more personal, one to one basis via a monthly newsletter, while still support my colleagues by having an Author Interview section in my mail out.
Indie authors are self-reliant on every publishing detail no matter how big or small. One aspect, and one of the most important, is marketing. Getting your book seen and reviewed will take up just as much time as the writing did in the first place.
I was a total newbie to anything self-publishing when I released my first book. I started marketing after publication and have since learnt that I made my life hard. Networking and building up your social media presence is vital, especially before publication. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a website/blog are just some of the key marketing platforms to build up a target audience, open avenues for beta and ARC readers, and to garner a solid group of fans who will support your work, read and review, share, repost, host you on their own blogs etc.
One part of successful marketing are visuals to use on these various social media platforms. You can hire professionals to create your promos, Facebook banners etc. Or you can create your own as and when you need them. Here are some links to websites that allow you to create free promos and/or edit images for this purpose:
www.canva.com (this website has a fantastic array of free tools to make book covers, Instagram posts, Twitter banners, and much more.)
www.picmonkey.com (this website allows you to edit images, add text, change eye colour, hair colour etc. Useful for editing free-stock pictures.)
www.pixabay.com (this website offers numerous images released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.
I hope this has helped writers looking at going down the indie publishing route. It can be a long, tiring slog, but it gets your work out there and under your terms.
Beverley Lee, Author of the Gabriel Davenport Trilogy
Marketing is an unruly beast as there isn’t an established rule book. But what does work may surprise you. It doesn’t involve spending money, just time. Support other writers. Cheer on all of their successes and be there on the bad days. The writing community is tight knit, they will do the same for you, and their readers may become your readers, which, in turn, will open up another new line of readership for you. It’s only by supporting others that we grow stronger as a whole.
If you do decide that advertising in a book promotion newsletter is for you, do your research on which are the best fit for your genre. Find out how many subscribers they have and what their newsletter actually looks like. Is it professional? (Some aren’t!) You will need to schedule well in advance though if you want to tie in your promotion with any others you are running. Some do book up months in advance so you need a marketing plan. Run a few campaigns and log your sales, rebook with the ones that give you the best return. You probably won’t even break even with the cost, but what it will do is to boost your book further up the rankings so that more people will see it. Keeping your book visible is one of the most important things that you can do.
Ellen Read, Author of The Dragon Sleeps
After so many months writing a book, editing and publishing it, I then had to sell it. This is the most difficult of all. I have worked in publicity/marketing in the performing arts, and although I think this was of some help, books are so very different. I researched and read everything I could find on how to go about selling my books. To start with, I had a website built. Then I started building an online presence. I started a writer’s page on Facebook and I joined Instagram and Goodreads. Instagram, in particular, was a revelation. I did not expect to find a book/writer/reader community there. Goodreads is also a great way to communicate with other authors and readers. A blog followed, although at first I wasn’t certain what I wanted to say. If you are selling your books on Amazon, as most Indie authors are, Amazon gives you an author page in US, UK, France and Germany, but not Australia and being Australian, I wish they did. However, there will always be some negatives. The thing is to work with are the positives. Author signings are a good way to get your book out there too. Sometimes I wonder how to fit in writing but it’s necessary to build followers.
G. R. Thomas, Author of The A’vean Chronicles
Visibility. This is the key word to demonstrate best practice book marketing. This is achievable three ways.
Social media. Used regularly, it is an effective platform to promote your book whether it be the cover, reviews or quotes, release dates and special promos.
Interaction. Be available to engage with readers and other authors to build relationships and trust. This promotes interest in your work as well as a sense of feeling like there’s a connection between the author and reader. We all know how exciting it is if we get a like from our favourite authors.
Book signings. There’s nothing like face to face interaction for you to draw a reader in and become memorable to them. Face to face signings have been the single most successful means for me in terms of sales, return customers and increase in social media following.
A. Morgan, Author of The Siblings
As an independent author, it is key to market the story right. Some pay for companies to do this for them, or like me, prefer the cheap and easy route by doing it myself.
For those looking to do it themselves, here is a few things to consider:
– Blog it. If you have a blog, get your story familiar with your followers by posting key information, excerpts, teasers, novel aesthetics or anything else you can think of by shouting loudest.
– Tweet it. Twitter along with its hashtags help many indie authors get their work out in the big bad world. Be it via #BookBoost, #indieauthors or the simple #amwriting, many people get the chance to see it. But be careful, filling up your timeline with nothing but self promotion, it can put a lot off followers off.
– I do not use it myself currently but Instagram seems to be a popular place to leave teasers.
Also, remember what type of readers you are looking to attract. If you’re trying to sell romance to a site popular with hardcore horror readers, you may not get the reaction you desire. The internet is a beautiful place and I know next time around, I will strive to do much more in advance. Leaving things to the last minute is not ideal. Scout hashtag games, bloggers willing to read advance copies and don’t be afraid to give away some for free.
Good luck with your journey and be prepared.
Melinda Devine, Author of Gina’s Diaries
Marketing. If I had to label this word, a sticker reading ‘A necessary evil’ would be slapped upon it.
When I began writing my debut novel Gina’s Diaries, I had no idea about marketing, let alone having to market my own book and myself as an author. I mean, really? Isn’t being an author just sitting and writing and releasing book after book? The answer: no. Especially for an Indie author.
To sell my book and myself, I needed to let everyone know we existed and to do that, I had to accept marketing was just as important as the book itself.
I have found two platforms which I’m comfortable with: Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook has worked for me in letting my friends and family know about my books, where they can purchase them, giving updates on my WIP and if I’m doing any book events or anything locally.
Instagram has been fabulous in reaching a far wider audience but in also allowing me to connect with authors and readers alike. I’ve held a couple of giveaways, placed my book on sale, attempted a few teasers and learnt an abundance of marketing ideas from the ever supportive author/bookstagram community.
I may see marketing as a necessary evil at the moment but that’s only because I’m still learning how to do it. One day it will just be a necessity and then, when I’ve successfully mastered it, marketing will be a breeze!
How do YOU market your books? What works best for you? Grab a cookie, make a tea/coffee, and let’s chat!
Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:
For all of my other musings, click me!
For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.