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A while back, I asked my Facebook group for authors, which aspect of being a writer caused the members grey hair. And that’s why this post deals with book marketing. Yes, writing the damn thing took years and cost me all my spare time! But that was nothing compared to the struggle of saying in public: “This is an excellent book, and you should read it.”
Join the Facebook group for discussion and tips: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569574570248527/
Marketing Versus Selling
There’s nothing wrong with selling your book (high five to the top sellers), but in this article, I’ll discuss marketing. What’s the difference, you ask…
“Selling is an action that converts the product into cash, but marketing is the process of meeting and satisfying customer needs.”
Remember that when it comes to marketing, what the customer wants is king. Do you have an ideal reader in mind? If not, now’s the time to picture him & her.
An Ideal Reader
“An ideal reader is the fictional person to which a book would most appeal. Most frequently, they represent a specific age group and interest or experiences, but in some cases, an ideal reader might also represent a certain ethnicity, religious background, sexuality, or other identifying markers.”
Source and more information: https://www.well-storied.com/blog/ideal-reader
- Genre and theme
- Why do they read? For entertainment, romance, or thrill? To escape or to find information?
- Life experiences
Tip: Study what makes an ideal reader for famous authors of the same genre.
Mold your product for the ideal reader:
- Write your next book with your focus group in mind (at least somewhere at the back of your mind)
- Design your pitch (choose what to stress)
- Cath the eye of your ideal reader with your marketing message (plus book cover & title)
- Follow through and modify the message as you go
- Do a bit of industrial espionage (the marketing message of similar authors)
- Know your niche
Social Media Content
Social media is about sharing, and you must establish a connection before you can market, or people will just avoid you. Think about topics that you share with your ideal reader. Those topics can involve hobbies and other non-book-related stuff. Use them to stir conversations and encourage your followers to discuss. Follow other authors’ accounts and learn from them. Exchanging help among peers is advisable because someone has struggled with the same issues.
How do you react to “BUY MY BOOK!” posts? Which ads and messages catch your attention? Make a list of what causes a positive reaction (the cover image, the setting, the information, etc.).
Tips for gathering followers (and marketing your book):
- Connect with your ideal readers (and people who converse with them)
- Share their interests
- Stir up a conversation–discuss the process of writing your book (historical research, a traumatic event or injustice which compelled you to write)
- Find out what your followers and friends want (polls, questions, competitions)
- Support other authors. Give tips and advice–lend your expertise.
- Show them who you are (a selfie wouldn’t hurt now and then, show your pets and non-writing related hobbies)
- Bring your book into life by discussing relatable topics
- Go behind the scenes and show your journey as an author.
- Be a reader
- Take a look at your followers. Activate top follower badges, and thank your loyal supporters.
Source and more information: https://www.mixtusmedia.com/blog/are-you-making-one-of-these-3-book-marketing-mistakes
Giving something for free might sound unnatural when you used a lot of money to get this far. Of course, you want book sales for your troubles. But sometimes the free lure can earn you sales.
Examples of freebies:
- the first chapter of your next book
- a sneak peek of an upcoming book
- a deleted scene
- a free first-in-series title before the launch of the next part
- a free short story or novella
- a free content library (images, blurbs, deleted scenes, character interviews, book cover versions)
Source and more information: https://insights.bookbub.com/how-promote-your-book-free/
Use The Cover of Your Book
I’ve dealt with book cover design before. Here’s the link to a previous blog post: https://rebeckajager.com/2020/04/17/what-authors-should-know-about-the-book-cover-design-process/
If you cannot afford a professional book designer, use time to make a beautiful cover in Canva, for example. Canva offers cover templates which you can browse by genre. Pay for professional photographs. We writers take for granted that readers pay for our book. The photographers need to eat too.
When you have a gorgeous cover (the face of your book), use that eye-catcher in your social media posts.
Remember to create a continuous brand. The same colors, fonts, and related book covers for a series all support your brand, which your customers recognize everywhere. Use consistent account names and steer clear from difficult letter+number combinations.
Build An Author Website
Having your website is a must. How to create one? You’ll find instructions from my previous blog post: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/12/24/1359/
An author’s website should contain the following information:
- Your bio and photo
- Excerpts from your books and book cover images
- A link to buy your book on every platform you offer
- A way to contact you
- Links to find you on social media
- Blog signup form (if you have a blog)
- Newsletter signup form
Tip: Yes, you should have an author newsletter.
How to build it? Use a MailChimp plugin, for example. There are numerous other providers. Check out my previous post on the matter: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/11/10/why-every-writer-needs-a-newsletter/
The website establishes your brand as a writer and acts as a base for directing traffic. Remember to take care of your search engine optimization so that your potential readers find your page among millions. From your site, direct readers to retailer sites, invite them to join your mailing list through free downloads. Ask people to follow you on social media.
How to earn those fantastic five-star reviews which you can boast across your existence on the web? First and foremost: write top-notch quality (means pay a professional editor).
Ask people to review:
- Ask for a review at the back of your book and on social media
- Offer an ebook for free
- Ask for comments in your paid ads
- Search for book bloggers and email them
- Swap reviews with other authors
- Once you have subscribers on your newsletter list, ask them
- Offer an advanced readers copy (ARC) and establish an ARC launch team
- Join reader rooms
Source and more information: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2018/08/29/book-marketing-10-ways-to-get-reviews-for-your-book/
An advanced reader’s copy is used for promotional purposes before publication. Offer ARCs to readers who will post endorsements and write reviews. An ARC should be free of charge and offered in exchange for newsletter subscriptions because those email addresses are worth their weight in gold. Market the ARCs through every channel at your disposal and gather a set of names as your ARC launch team.
More information: https://www.1106design.com/2019/11/06/what-is-an-advance-reader-copy/
Did you know you can send book recommendations on several platforms? BookBub and Goodreads are the ones you probably know, but here’s a list of other sites where you can design an author profile: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/10-best-book-recommendation-sites-you-need-know.html
Most big platforms offer paid advertising, but remember than reviewing and recommending other writer’s books is an essential part of building your community.
Ads on Amazon
“In addition to selling your book on Amazon, you can also promote it there, too. If you do decide to buy advertising, choose the sponsored product ads option. This pay-per-click ad allows you to target Amazon users with keywords that are related to your book.”
Source and more information: https://nybookeditors.com/2018/05/9-tips-for-marketing-your-first-book/
Remember that paying for a Facebook ad doesn’t mean you’ll get results as book sales or even clicks on that Amazon link. At the heart of any successful Facebook ad campaign is understanding your marketing goals and thus choosing which action you want the ideal reader to perform. Start by experimenting with a few bucks and register what works. Link your FB ads with the other measures mentioned in this article.
“The first thing to clear up is that there are different types of authors and different goals for your book. And once you are clear on the next step, a reader should take with you, your marketing strategy becomes clearer.”
Source and more information: https://www.andreavahl.com/facebook-advertising/the-4-best-types-of-facebook-ads-for-authors.php
BookBub ads tutorial: https://insights.bookbub.com/tutorial-how-to-use-bookbub-ads-to-promote-any-book/
Plan Your Book Launch!
Now, this is the most important advice I can give you about book marketing. If you just press the publish- button on Amazon and start shouting your marketing message across platforms, you’ve already lost the momentum which you can build beforehand.
More information (with a timetable): https://www.writersdigest.com/publishing-insights/18-ideas-successful-book-launch
You don’t have to throw a lavish launch party in person. You can do it online and record a Youtube video for further use. Even if the idea of an actual event doesn’t get you all excited (because you have to turn up in person and talk about your book in front of people), planning a launch means setting dates for all the marketing operations pre-and post-publication. It requires knowledge and action based upon your ideal readers.
- Take care of your SEO and write a list of suitable hashtags according to the genre.
- Do a cover reveal
- Build hype before ARCs, ebook and print publications
- Create merchandise and plan how to distribute it
- Build your community (make a list of people who can spread the message)
- Ask family and friends for help (yes, this includes your author friends)
- Contact book bloggers
- Contact possible reviewers
- Devise social media posts and send them to your supporters via email:
- Tell them when to post and where: a call to action
- Design a post for FB, Twitter, Instagram, and so on, complete with images and hashtags. Remember allowed text length in different media.
- Make posting easy
- Join Facebook groups and ask the admins if you can post about your launch
And remember to have fun. We don’t become writers unless we have a dream.
Other marketing tips: