Don’t fall into the same old pattern
When it comes to book promotions, everyone relies on the same old tools: a sudden burst of social media activity, sending out ARCs (advance reader copies) in hopes of good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and a book launch or even a book tour.
While the tools themselves aren’t the problem, it’s how they’re utilized that matter. Often, writers and even publishers don’t bother to go beyond the minimum of what should be done, which means that the social media activity ends up getting a little attention but no actual sales engagement, the ARCs don’t result in meaningful reviews, and book-related events are sparsely attended and don’t provide the needed boost to book sales.
What you’ll find here are tips on rethinking standard book promotional tools and how you can truly maximize them to help you with your book marketing.
A quick caveat: before you start promoting your new book, you should spend some time working on a marketing strategy. And before you start planning your book marketing strategy, you should spend an equal amount of time working on your personal brand. For a quick rundown on what a personal brand is, you can click here to read some useful information and download our free personal branding guide.
Find the right audiences
I’ve found that some writers get defensive when they’re asked to think about who their audience is. “I don’t write with an audience in mind.” Or “I write for myself.” Good for you, but that’s not what we’re talking about. An audience is simply the group of people who are likely to appreciate (and most importantly buy) your book. If you’re reading this article, then you must want people to buy your book, thus, you need an audience.
A lot of writers take the easy route and only try to promote their books to book bloggers and communities. While book lovers are definitely a group of people you should hit up, writers need to be more specific about targeting the microgroups in these communities. Within these communities, which people will connect your book the most?
Aside from book readers, look for other groups and communities that might enjoy your book. If you’ve written a contemporary teen romance based on Pride and Prejudice, your first instinct would probably be to reach out to romance readers. But aside from that, you might also get a lot of sales from schools who might want to use your book to teach Jane Austen. The important thing is to sit down and really think about who might find a use for your book, even if they’re not regular book readers.
Let people access your content for free
I don’t mean giving away your book–although some people have done this successfully with promos that bundle an old book for free with a new book that they’ve written. I mean that this is what marketers say when they say you need to have a platform. You need to have things out there that say something about you and the kind of writing that you do, whether you’re writing on your own blog or for publications.
What better way to advertise your book than with your other writing? If you have a book that centers on cooking, offer recipes or food-related stories. Contribute to other blogs or publications even before your book comes out so that you can establish a presence and a connection to a community that is organic and sincere.
Make your events matter
Any events you participate in are opportunities not just to sell your book but to get to know people and let them get to know you. That’s always been one of my biggest pet peeves with typical book launches and readings, where a poor author is forced to read passages out from their book. Who wants to attend these unless they’re family or friends?
If you’re planning a reading, make it fun! Hire actors, get audience members to participate, book musicians. If you’ve written a thriller, instead of reading from the book, why not host a conversation between yourself and a private detective?
You want the people attending these events to enjoy themselves so much that they will buy your book so that they can continue the feeling that they had at the event, like it’s a souvenir.
Also, invite people who will want to be there. Build anticipation for your event. Instead of sheepish invitations asking for support, treat this like a once-in-a-lifetime experience that people all want to attend. Get people excited before they go–people who are looking forward to something create a contagious, anticipatory energy, just like when you’re at a concert. This is the kind of event that sells books.
I’ll be posting about building marketing strategies later, but if you’ve got any comments or questions, feel free to comment below and we’ll do our best to reply!
If you have private questions about promotions, branding or marketing strategy, we offer a free 15-minute consultation so contact us now!