Four rounds of great book cover battles during January!
They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book, Unholy Warrior: Post-apocalyptic Spy Thriller, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!
I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! I’d need as much support from you guys. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here:
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.”
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.”
Why do they read? For entertainment, romance, or thrill? To escape or to find information?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Most books evoke a feeling the instant you look at them. In the perfect scenario, the title whips up the intrigue, and the cover has gorgeous artwork. As you read the blurb and author bio, you become convinced that you must buy this book.
The surefire elements to use in a book cover are the Main Character and the setting of your story. Most authors choose this scenario. Some book cover artists have a special gift of creating motion, but a static capture of your hero/heroine in his/her natural habitat works. The aim is to inform the customer about the following facts (within a few second’s decision time):
Look at other author’s choices. If you find a cover that matches all your hopes, find out who the artist is, and hire him/her. Collecting a set of all-time favorites helps you decide on the critical elements. If you hire a professional graphic designer, he will ask what kind of covers you like
Families have secrets. Some secrets are locked, sealed and taken to the grave. Others beg to be told. They ooze through cracks a little at a time. You tease them out until an ugly truth is fully exposed. Ella Perri knows there’s something hidden in the family cottage.
In his last breath, Ella’s grandfather reveals to her a startling secret that hints at something sinister. On behalf of her beloved grandfather, she embarks on a dangerous quest for truth. A World War II diary and the 21st century collide as Ella desperately chases every clue in a faraway and unfamiliar setting where the real story begins. Who can be trusted and who has something to hide?
One secret leads to another. Ella must decide: share the secrets and alter the fates of her loved ones forever or become part of the lie that’s been buried deep for decades.
Buried Secrets is a suspenseful mystery with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the shocking ending.
The matter of website design; it all depends where you’re at. If you just started publishing short stories, a blog would be perfect for you and easy to create. Maybe you have ten best sellers out (congrats, you lucky bastard!). That means your author website must house different sales channels.
This article is only a superficial scratch on the fascinating theme of web page design, but I wrote it to guide you onto the path. Remember that you can always add features and scale your business.
Look At Your Competitors
As with book covers, a bit of industrial espionage pays. Check out your competition and write down the observations.
Visual content. What’s to like? Images, the free white space which lets the central elements rock?
Commercial content and plugins: buying her book was super easy! I loved his blog.
Mechanisms of interaction: I subscribed to her newsletter with one click. I followed his social media accounts in an instant.
Create a header that consists of a headline and a theme image. Canva is great for making graphic elements. It’s free and offers multiple styles. Choose pictures and a theme that goes with your genre.
Add your core pages. I suggest the following: front/home page, landing page (for offers), books for sale or upcoming books (presale marketing). Additional pages to your liking: short stories, author bio, guest authors (swap for publicity), blog, competitions, and whatever you like.
“Authors often make the mistake of thinking that people visit their websites just to read their bio. Are you, the author, important? Sure, but your book is more important. Let people know they’re on an author’s website by making your product the star of the show.”
Tell the potential customers who you are as an author, and advertise your book. Always add a functioning link to Amazon or some other bookstore. Remember that each extra action causes your customers to fall out of the sales funnel. Make buying as easy as possible.
Establishing a PayPal account and using the PayPal button has become rather easy nowadays. Remember to count printing, sending the book, and all other expenses so that you break at least even. If e-commerce becomes too complicated, just use the Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Play Books, etc. links with a buy now- button.
Remember to test. Everything on your page must work before you publish it!
An extra puzzle: what would make people come back to your site?
A plugin is a mini-application that you can incorporate into your site. Most website builders offer a range of free plugins, but extra features demand a small monthly/yearly fee.
Newsletter subscription and a customer database (MailChimp for instance)
Test your site speed with several different browsers and operating systems. Ask friends and family to experiment. Post a poll on social media and allow fans to voice their opinion.
Scalability means that your website theme and the mechanics behind the visual facade adapt to different viewer devices and screen sizes. Open that mobile phone of yours and check your visuals. Ask friends to look at pages and click on the links. Request an honest opinion and have them answer a few questions. The process is similar to the beta reading of your book.
Remember that having no author site is the worst option. Having a 90s feel with everything blinking 100 mph is almost as bad as having no page. Boasting a smooth functioning website is your calling card as a professional writer.
Branding means that you use consistent features throughout your virtual existence. Having the same account name everywhere and using a logo helps people recognize you wherever they stumble upon your content.
A film-noir color scheme on your website? Great! (if you’re a mystery writer). Use the same header on your social media. After you get the hang of branding, a consistent effort soon becomes second nature.
But, a brand is much more than colors and visuals. You know what a writer’s voice is, don’t you? The brand is your voice when it comes to the web: instantly recognizable and consists of a thousand little things.
“Brand is everything people perceive you as. It’s your personality, every word you write, the fonts and colors you use, the way you make people feel when they read your books or visit your website. Many people wrongly equate brand to a logo or website colors and although these are brand elements, a brand is much more than just these graphic aspects.”
Start simple and add complicated elements after you master the basics. Create a landing page if you don’t know what else to do. Many website builders and emailing software offer articles and advice on how to create a simple landing page.
A landing page should:
House your writer bio (short)
Show off your products = books
Engage the customer and keep the conversation going
Offer promo codes and discounts (IMPORTANT!)
Advertise an incentive to a selected group of customers (give them a VIP-feeling)