The Ultimate Book Marketing Guide

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May 6, 2015

Marketing is a scary endeavor at times. Can you imagine doing what an entire company does by yourself? Well, if you can, that’s great. You’ve crossed the line and have become an authorpreneur. But for many self-published authors, marketing is downright nerve-racking. Where do you even start? How do you make Facebook Likes jump from 25 to 500? How do you influence thousands to buy your book?

The immediate answer is to stop trying to market and just do it. Begin with something small and ramp up your marketing efforts. The problem with this is that not all marketing tactics work for all books. Some authors have followed most of the advice from experts, yet manage to make only a little difference.

This guide will help you get started with book marketing. It discusses a variety of marketing options so you can explore effective tactics proven to deliver remarkable results.

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What are Your Goals?

This is your starting point. If you don’t know your goals, you will have no roadmap and no destination. If you want to create the best marketing plan, identify what you want to achieve first. Create a list of short-term and long-term objectives.

Some authors publish for personal satisfaction; others write for their friends and family; and many others hope to make writing a source of income. If you want to amass hundreds of readers, a different approach has to be used than if you were to distribute to your friends only.

You goals may change as you go along. Once you have clearly defined goals, it will be easier to figure out what to do to achieve them.

Identify Your Target Audience

Don’t start your marketing campaign unless you clearly identify your target audience. This way, you won’t be targeting people who aren’t interested in your book. Many authors make the mistake of thinking everyone will want to read their book. Sadly, that’s not true.

If you’ve already published, you have the advantage of studying data about your customers, fans, and followers. Go to your sales channels (e.g. Amazon) and social media channels. Know who your readers are, their buying habits, their age, what websites they most frequent, and what channels they use to purchase books. Use your findings to shape your marketing campaign.

If you haven’t published your book yet, gather data on books that are similar to yours.

Produce a High-Quality Product

It’s a generally accepted fact that a great book will sell. But guess what? Bad books also sell. That’s no excuse to distribute a poorly written and edited book, however. Your book will be market-ready once it’s the best version of itself.

  • Before you even start writing, gather writing advice from authors and literary authorities about writing a great book. The smorgasbord of blog posts and writing guides out there can leave you dizzy. As a rule of thumb, stick to just one or two writing guides.
  • If you’re writing fiction, after or while writing, partner with a developmental editor who will catch weaknesses in your manuscript. They will help you with poor character development, plot inconsistencies, dialogue problems, pacing issues and sentence structure among others.
  • Have your book professionally proofread. Proofreading should come after developmental editing, because at this point you should have a manuscript that’s ready to be turned into a book. A proofreader will catch all the spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes that you miss. Even if you qualify as an editor, you need a second set of eyes because authors tend to be too connected to their manuscript to be critical.
  • Hire a professional cover designer, because you’re not one. People do judge books by the cover. Make sure the cover reflects the book’s story, tone and intended audience. A qualified artist will be able to do this for they have mastered the principles and elements of design.

Building an Author Platform

First off, what is an author platform? Why is having one an advantage if you want to be traditionally published? How does it affect book sales?

This term is loosely defined, but basically, when you have a platform, you have established yourself as a credible author and can reach an audience that you can engage with. A platform transforms you from published author to accomplished author.

To build a platform, you have to start marketing your book and author brand well before the book launch.

  • Before writing your book, participate in Facebook and Goodreads forums, as well as groups and community pages related to writing, reading, and publishing. Actively join discussions and network with other members.
  • Before the book launch join social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter. Beef up your pages by uploading attractive and clean profile pictures and header photos. Be consistent with profile photos across all social media sites so that your image stays on people’s minds.
  • Keep a bunch of pre-written posts about topics that might interest your targeted fans and other authors. You can post writing-related tips, quotes from your book, quotes from famous books, relevant and interesting images, publishing tips and book marketing tips. You can also post flash fiction and poetry that aligns with the book you’re marketing. Schedule these posts so that your page can be active even if you’re away. Apps like Buffer and Hootsuite lets you schedule pre-written posts.
  • Invite people to like your page. Invite your friends, fans, readers, and members of your reader and author communities.
  • A little before the book launch post teasers and create a Facebook and Google+ event for the launch. The event can be held either at a physical place or it can be an online party. There are advantages to using either option. With a book launch at a physical location, you can have interact with people live, while with an online book launch, you can engage with people who otherwise won’t be able to travel to the party venue due to distance constraints.
  • During or right after the launch, hold contests and giveaways. Ask for entries and give a copy of your book or merchandise to the winner. A few contest ideas:
    • Merchandise design contest
    • Name submission where you choose a random contestant
    • Ask for topic suggestions for your next flash fiction
    • Useful tips related to your non-fiction book
    • Illustration of a character or scene in your book
  • After the book launch, continue updating your social media pages. Make this a continuous marketing campaign. A successful marketing program requires consistency and dedication.
  • Network with other authors. It may seem like authors are competing with each other out there, but most would be more than happy to support other authors and writers. Support them as well to enjoy reciprocity.
  • Facilitate more contests to gain continued traction.

Why Isn’t Your Book Selling?

You’ve completed the publishing process, promoted your book with reckless abandon, and sold it on every online bookstore imaginable. But still you’re not selling enough. Why is that?

Here are ideas to improve your book’s performance and sell more books.

  1. Improve your online sales page. Every part of your book’s sales page will contribute to the book’s appeal. Improve purchase decisions by filling out the book description, author bio and editorial review sections. Make these bits of information compelling. The book description serves as a back cover blurb. Many descriptions have little to do with a book’s sales potential, but the right description will make your book take off.
  2. Price it reasonably. There was a point when authors would price eBooks at $2.99 or lower because it’s what readers were looking for, but readers have since learned that low prices don’t always translate to good quality, and there’s a lot of value in higher priced books. But consider a reasonable price tag so your book is still within pocket’s reach.
  3. A great book cover will do wonders. It will catch anyone’s eye, and that can be the first step to draw attention to your book. Contrary to the popular saying, people do judge books by their cover. The cover sets the book’s tone and gives a glimpse of what’s in store for the reader. Hire a professional artist to design the cover, and if you’re on a budget, consider a premade cover. There are lots of them online.
  4. Reviews and endorsements work like magic. Good reviews from celebrities, reputable book reviewers and even random readers are lucrative marketing tools. Even bad reviews and bad publicity will attract attention. There are plenty of ways to get reviews, and they don’t have to be expensive.
  • Scour the Internet for book reviewers. Many of these sites provide free reviews. Send out emails asking them to consider your book.
  • Do giveaways on Goodreads and social media. In exchange for a review, give away a free copy of your book.
  • Paid book reviews are a good investment. Consider this option for even greater exposure.

5. Join book clubs. This is a good way to advertise via word of mouth. Tell members about your book, and they will hopefully tell their friends and their friends’ friends.

There is a lot to be done if you want to be a successful author. This post is a curated guide and I hope it has helped you gain new ideas to fire up your marketing campaign.



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