In today’s publishing landscape, unless you manage to land a huge deal with a publisher, chances are the bulk of marketing your novel is going to fall on your shoulders. Whether traditionally or indie published, marketing has become a must for authors. The downside? Marketing is a full-time job title which requires a lot of time, energy, and has a steep learning curve. The upside?
You don’t have to do it all.
As many methods for marketing your book exist as there are ways to write your book. So sit back, take notes on the must-dos, and then let’s talk about some optional add-ons.
Just because you don’t have to do everything in marketing, it doesn’t mean that you can skip the essentials. Much as many writers wish they could simply sit in their caves and just be left to the task of writing, some marketing tasks are essential. These include:
- Creating a Website: An author’s website is an absolute non-negotiable must-have when it comes to marketing. It is your central command, your way of communicating to readers that cannot be taken away from you, a potential sales tool, and your online business-card. This is where readers can and should be able to reach you—but also where you should have a press package so professionals interested in giving you publicity can reach you as well.
- Social Media: You don’t have to do it all when it comes to social media—but you should pick a platform (or two) and find a way to make a presence. Social media posts can be scheduled in advance, but it’s best to find a platform that you don’t mind spending some time engaging with others—it’s a good way to build community and find potential readers.
- Email List: This goes hand-in-hand with building a newsletter and a website, but how much you choose to communicate with people on your email list is up to you. However, having a ready list of subscribers on an email list is helpful for you to have a direct pathway to readers who have opted-in to hear from you. This is a fantastic way to make announcements about future books and to keep your readers invested in you as an author.
Once you’ve covered the must-haves, everything else you do to promote yourself as an author is up to you. But here’s the key to success: don’t try to do everything at once. It may be to your benefit to try everything that you’re interested in, simply because it will help you learn what works for you, what doesn’t help, and what you’re good at. But each method of marketing should be tried in some degree of isolation, so that you can give it your full attention and have a good handle on whether or not it worked. That said, here are some of the top ways to market your book:
- Ads: Whether it’s Facebook, Bookbub, or Amazon—there are a variety of social media platforms on which you can run ad campaigns to target readers in your niche. These require different levels of ad creation and usually cost per click. It’s easy to run up a bill on ads, though, without necessarily seeing return on your investment. A wise way of working with ads is to create 2-3 test ads, run them until to a certain number of impressions (views), and compare click-thru rates. The ad that has a higher click-thru rate will be a better choice for a larger ad campaign.
- ARC Distribution/Reviews: There are a variety of services that offer authors a means to distribute ARCs (advanced reader copies) to readers who can claim them. Readers are encouraged (though not required) to leave authors honest reviews in exchange, particularly on Amazon and Goodreads. Some of these services include: Netgalley, Booksprout, Booksirens, Hidden Gems, StoryOrigin, and Bookfunnel.
- Reader Magnets and “Permafree” Books: If you’re a prolific writer and you have the material, one of the most encouraged ways to attract readers are to offer them a free book to hook them in. This can be done through your newsletter or sites like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Readers can sign up/download your free book, which then links to other (non-free) books in your book’s backmatter.
- Book Promos: Most writers have heard of book promos through sites like BookBub, Freebooksy, Fussy Librarian, etc—but if you haven’t, here’s a quick summary of what they are about: you apply for a promotion and commit to a discounted price you’ll be offering your book—free and 99 cents tend to be favorites. If you are accepted for a promotion, these websites will blast their huge email lists with your book promotion on the scheduled dates in order to tell them about the deal they can get on your book.
- Influencer Promotion/Book Tours: In today’s social media world, one of the best ways to get to your audience is by word-of-mouth promotion. In book marketing, this can often be helped by putting your book on “virtual tour” through dedicated book tour companies who have book bloggers/bookstagrammers who read and review your book. Usually these book bloggers have thousands of followers who engage with their content in order to specifically get book recommendations. If you opt not to go through a book tour company, you can also try to make contacts within the influencer, book blogger, bookstagrammer world yourself.
Once again, these are only some of the ways you can promote yourself as an author. Whatever you choose, take some time to dedicate yourself to it and give it your all. And if it doesn’t work—there are many other methods to try! Persistence is often the key to success.