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26 Thoughts on How To Market Your Novel

Dec 13, 2016
David Jolly
Publishing Trainee

How to market your book?

Not just your book, but also how to market your ebook, because in this day and age, it’s really the same thing. That said, if you are a self-publishing author putting your book on Kindle, take the time to figure out CreateSpace and put it there as well. There are a few reasons for that which will come up further down, but one of the most important is credibility. When people see that they can buy a print copy, it gives the impression of “a real book” – of course then they buy the cheaper ebook anyway, but still.

Before we start, there are a few fundamental basics that I feel should be mentioned. If you’re going to self-publish please take these thoughts into consideration. This isn’t to dissuade you, it’s to inform you about what’s important.

1. A book is absolutely judged by its cover. Save up some money, find a friendly graphic designer or cover artist, and get yourself a really good cover.

2. Spelling mistakes matter and people notice. Now, real professional proofreader can be incredibly expensive, but you’ve got friends. Get as many as you can together to beta-read you book. Which means have them red pen it for you. You want to weed out as many typos as possible.

3. A good editor is worth their price. Plus, they already have your money so they don’t need to be nice to you. If you do happen to find an agent, the general rule of thumb is to take the advice of the editor over the agent when it comes to the content.

Note: An editor and a proofreader aren’t the same thing. Most of the time the editor is just as word blind by the end as you are. Because you know how it should read, that’s how you see it, so you can’t see the little mistakes.

4. Pick a title that people can say, and remember. ‘A Guy, A Girl and A Voodoo Monkey Hand’ is a fun funny title, but it’s a mouthful and most people don’t remember it all. I’ll explain more on this point later.

5. Don’t forget to set up your author central profile on Amazon.

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into the reason you’re here. You have a book…Congratulations! And you’re either about to release it and are not sure how to get it noticed, or your book is already out and it’s not the miracle breakthrough success you were hoping for. I understand this one. In both cases, I have good news for you. Unlike movies or an album, both of which have their success measured on the weekend of release, a book that’s been out for 10 years can be discovered and explode, and you’ll still have made it as a writer. You have time on your side, and time really is your best friend in book marketing.

If you haven’t published yet, you have a slight advantage because you can start building hype for your book before it comes out, and put together a launch campaign, which is actually fun. Lots of work, but fun, and you feel great on the day when your book is finally live and then people start talking about it.

Now how do we do that? I’m sorry to say but, “Please buy my book!” works the same way as, “I’m not CRAZY!”, in that it doesn’t really work at all. It’s super frustrating, but people generally don’t trust your word about your own book. You need to find other people to talk about your book on your behalf. If you want people to talk about you, word of mouth is by far the best marketing tool, and the hardest to achieve. But once you get big enough it doesn’t even matter what they say. Think back to when Fifty Shades was exploding, how many people did you hear talking about it, and then think about how many of them were saying horrible things about it? Most of the people I knew had nothing nice to say about it, but were all talking about it, constantly, for a week. But I digress. How do you get people talking?

Bloggers

6. Take the time to find as many relevant book blogs as physically possible in your genre and write to them. This is another spot when having a printed book comes into play. In my experience, you will receive a much higher positive response rate if you offer people a print copy of your book. It will, of course, cost you to send it to them, but you can ship it straight out of CreateSpace. Depending on the size of the book, and if the reviewer is based in the USA or not, it will come to 9-15USD per book with shipping. Also, give yourself, and them, the time to get the book and read it. If they’ve said yes, don’t be afraid to ask them to have the post ready by a specific date, as long as it’s about 2/3 months in advance, and then remind them closer to the time. Always be polite, but you can send them a message along the lines of ; “My book will be launching in just over a week, and I can’t wait to read your thoughts on it.” If your book is out, you can do something similar, just pick a date and give it a reason. The anniversary of the launch is a prime date for it; I’ve also used my birthday.

7. If the reviewers come back positive, but can’t fit your date, don’t turn them away. Having a slow trickling outside of your desired timeline is still a new review that someone will find. But do try to get them to post around the same time.

8. Don’t work in isolation when it comes to actually writing the pitch/blurb for your book. If you have a friend who reads a lot and you trust, ask them to soundboard for you. Read them the blurb and listen to what they say about it. Remember, it’s just the blurb not the book. It is also better if they’ve read the book. It will help you make the blurb less rambling. This is also true about the note on the back of the book. In fact, it can be the same blurb.

9.  Don’t feel bad about mass e-mailing the first contact e-mail, just don’t continue to mass e-mail the bloggers who say yes. Remember you want to form a relationship with them, so they’ll continue to help promote future books.

10. Make a list of the bloggers who say yes, keep track of them, and thank them when they’ve made a post, regardless of if it’s good or not, thank them for their time. It’ll give you good grace and hopefully they’ll like your next book. Unless they unfairly post a critical rant with no constructive comments. Then say nothing.

11. If any of them say they don’t have time to do a review but will do a spotlight or interview, say yes. Any additional reference that can go live about you is a bonus. When people hear about you they will search for you online and the more there is to find, the more likely they are to convert to a sale.

12. Reviews in all forms are incredibly important, and many of the bloggers will co-post on Amazon and Goodreads.

Set Up A Website/Blog/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads

13. Putting together a little platform where people can find you is important, and it gives you a few additional marketing tools to use. The most important being that you can create a subscribe signup system for your fans. This means you can collect email addresses of people who want to know about your books; people you can tell every time you launch a new book. I’ll speak a bit about how to incentive people signing up further down, but having an ever growing mailing list of fans is far and away the easiest way to generate sales of your book at launch.

14. Use your blog/website to let people get to know you, or feel like they know you. That personal touch where people can connect to you and your work will endear them to you and make them more loyal as fans. They’re more likely to actually convert to sales and, even better, to tell other people about you. First Prize.

15. On the social media side, you can share the blogposts and reviews about you and your books. Use relevant hashtags, but don’t spam. Share a post on your writer’s page/twitter then, a few hours later, share that post on your private account, then wait for the next post. In between times, find a reason to post regularly. Be sure to add that personal touch, share some thoughts, feelings and personal photos. If all you post are shares of other pages, you’re distancing yourself from your fans.

16. Goodreads; great for readers not so great for authors. But you have to be a GoodReads registered author to list giveaways for your books, which can only be done with physical copies. Another reason to do it. Why should you give your books away? I’ll cover that soon. But the other advantage of GoodReads is it links to social media. So you ask your friends to log in with their Facebook accounts and rate your book and it should auto-share on Facebook. They love you, and will forgive you. It is also another credible point when people start looking for you online. Also, use the platform as it’s intended. Put up the books you’re reading, rate some things, review some things. It won’t take long, but an active, genuine account gives another personal touch. Take a moment to look up Patrick Rothfuss on Goodreads.

Give Your Book Away For Free

17. Give away a few copies of your book to people who will read it, hopefully like it, and then tell their friends. I know it sounds counterproductive for sales, but there are over 7 billion people on the earth, roughly, and giving away a few thousand books can lead to a win. If you’re Amazon exclusive (CreateSpace is also Amazon) you can list your book as free for up to 5 days every six months. You can promote this time with Facebook and your blog/website subscribers, twitter, any way possible, because you need people to read your book to…

18. …Get reviews. Amazon recently changed its review policy to say that sellers could no longer give away their products for free or at a discount in order to garner reviews. Except for books. Books you can still totally do that for. They just have to say that it was given to them in exchange for an honest review.

Note: Amazon technically doesn’t allow close friends and family to write reviews because it’s seen as biased and they will delete anything they deem suspect.

19. With your blog/website you can offer a few free chapters of your book to incentivise signups. For those who haven’t published yet, you have an advantage. This also gets people eager to read more if they like the book. Then what you can do is contact these same people and offer them advanced reader copies in exchange for amazon/GoodReads reviews. Tell them you’d love them to have it done around the launch, and how much you value their help. As you write more and more this is also a good place to sauce beta-readers.

20. Goodreads giveaways are fun. As I said you, can only do it with physical copies, so it costs you a bit more, but in order to enter the giveaway people have to add it to their ‘to-read’ list. This again links to Facebook and helps spread the word. You can also run them pre-launch so people will get advanced copies and hopefully they’ll write a review. Some sites will tell you to go through the list of people who sign up and offer them free digital copies in exchange for a review, but GoodReads itself suggests not doing that. It can seem spammy and you want to build positive connections. There are two schools of thought with GoodReads giveaways.

– Giveaway 1 book over a week. The argument being that Goodreads predominantly promotes Giveaways that are just starting or about to end. So you get a higher level of exposure.

– Giveaway a few copies of your book over the course of a month or two. Mostly pre-launch to let your book slowly tick up the followers over time, building pre-launch excitement, and also at the end a few people get copies and will hopefully review the book.

21. Amazon Giveaways. There are a few bonuses with this one. You can do it for digital copies of the book, so it’s cheaper, and you can set the enter conditions. The two I’ve found most useful are:

– Amazon Followers. So they have to follow you so will get alerted when you bring out new books.

–Twitter Follows, which can be very helpful. They’re not very valuable followers, but they did enter to get a book, so there is some potential. Also, you can see who’s won and send them a tweet congratulating them.

22. Make the giveaway discoverable by their customers. Amazon has recently added a feature to do this, which can sky rocket entries. There are a few conditions but they’re simple to follow and very worthwhile.

23. Unlike movies and albums, you can’t read while doing something else. A movie in the cinema sure, but you can have a movie on in the background when you buy the dvd, it also doesn’t take effort to enjoy. Music likewise. Also, it only takes up a few hours. A book on the other hand, you have to convince someone to dedicate hours or days, depending on the person, to engage with your story. They have to trust that it’s worth their time, because time is precious. People research books before they buy and there are two key factors here:

24. It takes seven points of reference before someone makes a purchase. Which is why reviews posts, blog posts, Amazon/GoodReads reviews, your personal blog and author Facebook/twitter pages, a print copy being available, are so important. If they look you up and don’t find you, they won’t read you. You want to show the world that you take this seriously, because if you don’t, why should they?

25. There is more competition out there than ever before, so you need to be memorable. Which is why having a title that is catchy helps. Something people aren’t going to be slightly embarrassed to admit to reading.

NoteNot everyone is going to like your book, some people you’ve sent a few e-mails to and connected with will give you 1 star and tell the world what a disappointment your book was. Thank them for their honest thoughts, and move on. Like Shades of Grey, of course you want people saying nice things, and it’s horrible to hear bad things, especially about something as personal as a book, but if it gets people talking it’s still a win.

26. If all else fails, assume a fake name, go find a bar to sit in, and talk to people about this great book you’re reading at the moment. (I don’t actually recommend doing this, but I did do it once and sold a couple books).

Want more ideas about how to market your book? Check out our YouTube Channel. Otherwise, check out the cheatsheet below with a summary of our tips:

1. A book is absolutely judged by its cover

2. Spelling mistakes matter and people notice

3. A good editor is worth their price

4. Pick a title that people can say, and remember

5. Don’t forget to set up your author central profile on Amazon

6. Take the time to find as many relevant book blogs as physically possible in your genre and write to them

7. If the reviewers come back positive, but can’t fit your date, don’t turn them away

8. Don’t work in isolation when it comes to actually writing the pitch/blurb for your book

9. Don’t feel bad about mass e-mailing the first contact e-mail

10. Make a list of the bloggers who say yes

11. If any of them say they don’t have time to do a review but will do a spotlight or interview, say yes

12. Reviews in all forms are incredibly important

13. Putting together a little platform where people can find you is important

14. Use your blog/website to let people get to know you

15. On the social media side, you can share the blogposts and reviews about you and your books

16. Goodreads; great for readers not so great for authors

17. Give away a few copies of your book to people who will read it, hopefully like it, and then tell their friends

18. …Get reviews

19. With your blog/website you can offer a few free chapters of your book to incentivise signups

20. Goodreads giveaways are fun

21. Amazon Giveaways

22. Make the giveaway discoverable by their customers

23. Unlike movies and albums, you can’t read while doing something else

24. It takes seven points of reference before someone makes a purchase

25. There is more competition out there than ever before, so you need to be memorable.

26. If all else fails, assume a fake name, go find a bar to sit in, and talk to people about this great book you’re reading at the moment